Are you fascinated by what frightens you?

I think I’ve asked this question before but for some reason, this topic seems to blow my mind. I’m just so fascinated with how our brains and emotions work – especially in tense situations. I have put in so much effort over the years to learn how to cope with anxiety. It’s really been a lifelong battle and the solutions are often unique to each individual suffering. Anxiety definitely serves a purpose, even though sometimes it seems irrational or at the very least inflated. Does learning about what scares us ease anxiety? Maybe. It’s just so interesting where our minds take us.

I’m terrified of tornadoes. We’re in tornado season right now and from what I see on the news, it’s been a rough one. I live in Middle America so severe weather is unavoidable.

Here in Ohio, tornado season starts in April. To amplify my fear, I had knee surgery on April 2nd and am unable to get to the basement. Well, at least not quickly. My plan when I hear the sirens is to try and get in the bathtub. Luckily, my neighborhood hasn’t had any tornado warnings yet this year. I was happy to have surgery in April so that I would recover by summer, but the ability to get to the basement was always in the back of my mind.

Despite the fear, I am so fascinated with tornadoes! A few years ago, I signed up to take the SkyWarn Storm Spotter training, but I got strep throat and couldn’t go. I was so upset! I haven’t seen it offered locally since.

I think what’s so frightening as well as fascinating about tornadoes is that they are still so unpredictable. Yes, you can see rotation on radar, but we still rely on sightings from the ground, too. When you hear the siren, you could have ten minutes to take cover or thirty seconds. You just don’t know. A lot of the time you’re lucky – tornado warnings are lifted and nothing happened, but at the same time, one minute your house can be standing and the next minute everything you know can be gone. You just never know. Tornadoes happen every year and there’s no escape. You never know when it’s your turn to feel Mother Nature’s wrath. I love living in the Midwest but you can’t help but feel vulnerable. 

No one can predict the future, so I guess this applies to a lot of things in life. (Yes, this is my struggle with anxiety.) 

I’m just curious, are you fascinated with things that frighten you?

Last year on April 5th, I wrote a poem about tornadoes. It’s been a while since our area was hit by a big one, and we’re due. The news had been warning us about severe weather for a few days. Everyone was saying this was going to be bad. I was at the office and around lunchtime, everyone just left. We all went home to hunker down for what was supposed to be a very stormy afternoon.

Nothing happened. There was a collective sigh of relief. But here’s the poem:

 

Twisted Storm

 

Unavoidable risk
of uncertain danger –
there’s nowhere to run
but do your best to hide.
My life dangles in time.
The forecast tells us
to prepare for something
you truly can’t prepare for.
An afternoon of mental chaos
and impending disaster –
the day was unsettling
from the start.
Wake up to seventy degrees
on the fifth day of April –
for once the warmth
is unwelcome.
Fear comes
from an unforgiving sky.
Scattered brain.
Scattered home.
What will the world
look like tomorrow?
Dreams broken.
Goodbyes unspoken.
Until next time –
please pass over me.

 

So, is everyone outside of America (or the Midwest and South) wondering why I live here now? The truth is I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I grew up here and storms are just a part of life. I just think it’s so interesting that I’m fascinated by something I’ve been scared of my whole life. I get excited every time it storms – both good and bad excitement. I kind of love storms in a way. The nervous energy can be such a rush! I can’t exactly explain why I feel this way. Have you ever experienced something like that?

Belief vs. Culture

How many true believers are in the world?

It’s true; your geographical location usually decides your religion, but how many people truly believe, and how many just follow along because it’s part of their culture?

I think it’s human nature to question. Don’t you? I think at some point everyone goes through a little “soul searching”, whether they admit it or not. For me, questioning my beliefs just felt like part of growing up. Maybe for some, it strengthens their belief, but questioning led me to abandon faith altogether. I bet a lot of people are in the same boat, again, whether they admit it or not.

I grew up in a Christian culture (coloring Easter eggs, giving Christmas presents, etc. minus going to church) but I’ve never considered myself a Christian. Honestly, it would be so easy to hide and call myself a Christian. No one would ever know the difference, but morally I just can’t do it. I have to stay true to myself. In my personal life, I don’t just offer up my atheist views, but when questioned, I’m honest. 

Is everyone being honest? I kind of doubt it. How many people are just following the motions? I bet the number of true believers is smaller than we think.

Deep down I think everyone must have a little bit of doubt. It would be strange if they didn’t, right? I mean, nothing in life is 100 percent. We learn that pretty early on so why wouldn’t it apply to religion?

So many people at my work are vocal Christians. Do they really truly believe? Is any of that peer pressure? I don’t know. If they ever questioned, would they admit it?

I’m just curious; when you look at the people around you who define themselves as part of a religion, do you think they truly believe? Do you think they secretly have doubts? Do you think they just see religion as part of their culture and nothing more? Are they just following the motions because that’s what they know? Or maybe because they’re afraid not to? 

You never know what’s going on deep inside a person’s head, but I’d like to think I’m not alone in my feelings. Am I really that different from the people around me?

So many questions…

Botanicals Art Exhibition

One of my flower drawings was accepted into Botanicals 24 with Artist Space Gallery. You can check out the online exhibition here. I forgot that I entered the contest and I don’t remember getting an acceptance notification so you can imagine my surprise when I saw my work on the website today!

Thank you guys for your support!

I only have one week left on crutches and it’s changed the way I view things.

I am so excited to be getting rid of these crutches soon! I am no longer in pain and I am so glad I had the surgery. No more feeling helpless. No more sitting around the house all day.

My experience with having a knee injury and recovering from surgery has changed the way I view things. I have spent so much time lying around on the couch. I’m so excited that warmer weather is finally here and I’m going to be able to get out more. Having my surgery at the beginning of April was really good timing! I will be recovered by summer. I want to walk to the park with my daughter and go for bike rides. I haven’t been able to do those things in almost a year and I just don’t want to take my mobility for granted. I feel so fortunate to not be in pain. I’m not getting any younger and now I want to be active for as long as I can. 

This has also made me view disabilities differently. Using crutches has been so much work. I’m slow and I’m tired. Everything I do is more complicated. It’s very frustrating and there have been so many tears. I’m constantly asking for help and now I really know the importance of handicapped parking spaces. I avoid going out. My husband does all the grocery shopping. 

Another reason I don’t like going out is that the crutches and brace attract attention. I already have social anxiety, and it’s overwhelming when complete strangers are asking me what happened. I get very annoyed. I just say “I had surgery” and leave it at that. I think people can sense that I’m uncomfortable and I shut down the conversation pretty quickly. It’s not like what happened to me was embarrassing, but it’s really none of their business. 

Things have indeed gotten easier as time has gone on, but it’s still a lot of work. I am so excited to be walking on two feet soon, but it has been in the back of my mind what this would be like if I were on crutches longer or even disabled for life. It’s just something I’ve never thought of before. This was an eye-opening experience. 

I just want to get back to normal. One night I broke down sobbing because as I was lying on the couch I was watching my husband doing the dishes, cleaning the house, and taking care of our daughter and I just couldn’t help him. I felt so guilty.

I can’t wait to drive again. Freedom! I can’t wait to go back to work. My first day back is the 22nd. Now that I’m almost off of crutches I am looking for a second job. A new arts and crafts store is opening nearby this summer, and I’d really like to work there! (I also hope there’s an employee discount!) 

I can’t wait to finally get rid of the crutches, but at the same time, it’s a lot to think about. It’s been such a difficult experience, but also it was only six weeks of my life. 

I hope the optimism and enthusiasm I’m feeling right now lasts.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Do your partner’s religious beliefs differ from yours? (Plus “Smile” and “Cock and Petals”)

I have a Cardi B song stuck in my head. I like the song, but it just won’t leave me alone. Maybe some writing will distract me…

Do your partner’s religious beliefs differ from yours? I’m an atheist – pretty straightforward. My husband doesn’t believe in god but believes in a higher power. It’s really just a slight difference and I can see where he’s coming from. Definitely not enough to make us incompatible.

When I was younger, I dated men from all different backgrounds. I was an equal-opportunity girlfriend and I think it’s kinda funny that I married someone so similar to me. 

But when it comes to religion, I don’t think I could settle down with someone if they were really different from me.

I was once in a long-term relationship with a Jewish man. We lived together in Los Angeles. When I was with him I took classes on Judaism (that his parents paid for) and his family expected me to eventually convert. 

While I’m not a Christian, I grew up in a Christian culture. My family colored Easter eggs and gave Christmas gifts. He wanted nothing to do with it. It became a touchy topic and made me really uncomfortable. Why was I the one expected to change?

There was a lot I didn’t understand (and probably still don’t). His Jewish family and friends often talked about being oppressed, but at the same time, these were the wealthiest people I had ever been around. I know their grandparents were oppressed, but I just didn’t see them as oppressed; I saw them as extremely privileged. Unfortunately, it kind of affected how I viewed Jewish people in America, but logically I know one family does not represent all Jews. It’s been years and I think I’m still processing it all.

Eventually, I left him and moved back in with my family in Ohio. It was at this time I finally got the help I needed for my mental health. Dating in recovery gave me a little more confidence, and I met some really interesting people.

After a year back in Ohio, I went back to school and dated an Indian man. We were both students at the same college. One day, we drove all the way to Pittsburgh to visit a Hindu temple. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember all the details, but it was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before. There were so many people there and it was definitely eye-opening. He never pushed his religion on me and I was very grateful to have experienced his culture without the pressure to change myself.

Then there was the conservative Christian (and virgin). We also met in college. He was dead-set on converting me and I didn’t budge. Had I converted just to please him, it would have been a lie. You can’t force someone to believe in something, and I’m not willing to fake it like so many people do. Obviously, it didn’t last very long. I really liked riding around in his truck though.

Lesson learned: if your partner wants to fundamentally change you, it’s probably not going to work out.

Soon after I met my husband and the rest was history. I was only twenty-four when I met my husband online. He always made me feel so comfortable. I can tell him anything and he doesn’t judge me. He’s easygoing, we have so much in common, and I always feel accepted. Sometimes we have really interesting discussions about religion and spirituality. I enjoy them. My husband and I believe similar things, but if we were exactly the same, maybe the discussions wouldn’t be as interesting.

If you are dating or when you were dating, how and when did religion come up? Have your partners’ views differed from yours? Did you avoid the topic, agree to disagree, or were you comfortable discussing it?

Religion always came up early for me as atheism has been an important part of my recovery.

How important is it to you for your partner to be similar or different from you? Did you settle down with someone with different views and how do you deal with that?

 

Also, can someone name a different song to get stuck in my head?

 

Now enjoy some weirdo art!