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I have a bit of mental illness in my genes. Brooding introverts, fit-throwing intellectuals, amazing and melancholy musicians and artists. I feel the intensity my ancestors have given me sometimes… the blackness surrounds me, I am unreachable. It happens less and less, but there are times when the world seems bleak, everyone’s life is better than mine, and I don’t know what to do.

This is unreasonable, I think to myself. It isn’t logical. Why are you feeling this way? Why don’t you just BE NORMAL.

And I try… I am better at getting myself out of that funk, the blackness. I have an arsenal of things to try, things that have worked for me in the past. From music to talking to my mom or sister, maybe splurging on a lunch date with my boys to brewing a cup of coffee or having a drink. It isn’t always immediate relief, but I have the crutches that help me feel normal.

As biologically grounded as I am in the dark and deep, the cynical and sarcastic, I have found – over time – that I am for the most part an optimist, and it doesn’t set well with me to be a victim. I like to think happy thoughts, I like to believe in an order in the Universe, a connectedness. I like the cheesiest of quotes and sayings. I like to cry at the fragility and beauty of life.

I imagine that the way I seek peace is similar to the Christian who seeks refuge in biblical verse. I wanted for the longest time for that to be the road for me. I still sometimes want it. I love the idea of tradition and fellowship. I like the idea of belonging to something greater than me with a common purpose. How easy to just pick up a Bible and pretend I am one of them. How much easier would my life me if I used, as my crutch, the church?

But I can’t. My heart doesn’t feel it. I know it isn’t for me. When I try it on, I feel hypocritical, in uncomfortable clothes. As hard as it is to feel isolated, as hard as it is to consistently turn down offers to attend church services, I just can’t. I feel at peace with this decision in almost all ways, in the ways of the soul. My heart is contented with the ideas and thoughts that surround me now involving the Universe, love, unknowing and connectedness. But my mind still wanders – What if I could say β€œHe is Risen!” with the conviction of my peers. What if I could believe that LITERALLY there was a man, the son of God, who died on the cross for humankind?

I am in a sea of Christians. There are tiny islands of Mormons, Jews and a Muslim or two. For all of those, I am grateful. I actually relish the idea that non-Christians can flourish in this city, in this state. I know many are persecuted, and for that, I am very sad. I can even understand the passion and conviction of the cornerstone of religion, of wanting answers, of wanting to give something a name. I am jealous of the simplicity of that sometimes. It is hard to take the path less chosen, especially in the middle of the Bible Belt… but that is my path. While everyone wants to put a label on something, this path is the one without a label.

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