Religion is an invention of control. It controls those who believe it, subjecting them to rulers in ways they wouldn’t allow if not for their religion. While at the same time, it gives people the false sense of control over their lives through the belief that if they just live a certain way their lives will be blessed, if not here, when they are dead.
People seem to have the need to control others and to control events around them. So most of the polled inform us that they find peace in their religion. Of course, even those answers are controlled by the fact that if they admit dissatisfaction, their religious deity will punish them. So, who is really controlled in religion? The masses believe the promise of the leaders that they will have control over their lives, but the masses are themselves completely controlled by the religion which is controlled by the leaders.
It’s easier that way, however. So much easier to live life in a satisfying delusion of control rather than look at the storm around you and think, “Damn, we’re f*cked.”
The truth, of course, is that no one has control of much of anything. Even for the leaders who think they have control, there will always be people like me who come to their senses, throw off the shackles of psychological enslavement, and walk away.
The Truth, of course, is that we have little to no control over 90% of our lives. We are simply not capable of controlling what the weather will be like. We cannot control the traffic. We cannot truly control what other people around us do, and we certainly have no control over what people do on the other side of the world that ends up affecting us.
We do not control our children, any attempt to will lead to a horrible destruction of our relationship with them that is simply not worth it. We can teach them, we can try to lead them, but they are their own persons who think their own thoughts and to stifle that is to destroy them, often in the way our parents destroyed us. It’s just not worth it.
When the school term started, I knew all this. I knew that, though the first two weeks went well, aside from an unfortunate hair-dye incident, that things would get rough. And they did. Starting the third week of school. I had no control over it. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it. It had nothing to do with me. The best I could do immediately was to try to contain it. That was all that was within my power.
When that was finally over after nearly a month, I did think I’d at least have a little time to breathe and try to get re-organized. But, through no fault of my own, I have been sick and in excruciating pain ever since. Now I am behind in school and have to play catch-up.
Which brings me to another thing that we have no real control over, mental illness. Just as we can wash our hands and keep clean and get our flu shot and still end up sick, we can do all those “things” that people tell us will help our mental health, there are many things associated with mental illness that we can do nothing about.
My particular issue is caused by having PTSD, which was caused by having abusive parents and an abusive spouse and being told everyday of my life that God will punish me if I do anything he doesn’t like. Most of these things, people do not have control over, especially since all societies force people to remain in our birth families and marriage and religion or become outcasts.
If you think that’s not true, talk to abused women who’ve left. The vast majority lost everything they’d had before. Most religions side with the abuser, especially when it’s a man. Most religions teach that we should simply submit ourselves to our ruler and spouse and the abuse that is given. The Bible demands this, the Tao te Ching demands this.
Now, after a month-plus, of stress, the depression is becoming unmanageable again. Part of this has to do with my illness. My ears ache and listening to anything electronic–TV, music, etc—is painful. My first defense against my depression seems to be listening to certain types of music. Unfortunately, I have not learned yet what my second defense is.
I can see, sitting here and thinking through how overwhelming my life is, that the lie of control through prayer and through submission to some unseen and unknowable being is tempting. I can see why people fall for it so easily. Because instead of falling back on false beliefs that some thing might come to rescue me, I have to do the hard work of figuring out how to rescue myself. I have to work through my thoughts, I have to find meaning, I have to figure it out.
If I would just give my mind over to the ease of prayer and meditation, I could simply let go and ignore it all and pretend, for a moment, that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to happen.
Of course, that’s all bullsh*t. There is no one way things are supposed to happen. Fatalism is as useless as controlling things. Because we do have control over a few things in our lives.
Whether I like it or not, I get up each day and get my kids to school. I get myself to school and work. I don’t want to. I really want to stay and bed and I am sometimes jealous of those who do. I guess I think that if I could I might recover more quickly.
But, mostly, the thing we can do is to keep working on it, keep trying to figure things out. What works for us–music, in my case. What doesn’t work for us–religion and meditation make things far worse for me.
The work to recover, the work to go on when you don’t want to is hard, sh*tty work. There is nothing pleasant about it, nothing glamorous. Hell, likely we will never even be thanked nor our struggle acknowledged. It sucks. It’s painful. It bleeds.
But that is what life is. It sucks, it’s painful, and it bleeds. Yes, there are good things that can happen, but that is not the overarching picture for most people. The majority of people alive in this world right now are suffering in horrible and excruciating ways. That is our world. A world drenched in religion and self-help ideas that have, throughout the existence of humanity, done nothing to help alleviate this suffering.
This is reality.
I’ve written several times about how seeing reality as it is helps us to overcome the difficult things in life. And in my current case, which is so very bad right now, it is good to remember what I can do and what I have done.
So, think on how far you’ve come. I know exactly how hopeless it can seem. I am not one who can unsee the evil things I’ve seen. When the depression hits, those things are all I can think of. But how far I’ve come is a pretty damned impressive thing. Most abused women never do what I’ve done because they cannot bear to lose the support of their family and friends the way I did. They would rather stay in the same horror than risk it all for freedom.
If you are reading this, you most definitely have come far. I mean, you are here to read this, that’s pretty impressive, all things considered. Don’t you think?.