Faith: The Rough Patch

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I don’t know how to start this post so I’m just going to dive right in.

Today was the first day in a LONG time that my spirit felt moved to talk about God. It’s been a while since I’ve truly desired to pray, worship or anything else pertaining to my faith.

You see my faith is complicated. My beliefs are complicated. I don’t like labels but if you tried to put one on me I’m not even sure you could call me a christian though technically I am. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to even connect myself with the title and I still struggle with that.

You see a few years ago I was struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks (and sometimes still do.) I won’t say my faith in God struggled, I’d say my faith in myself and others did and as a result my relationship with God suffered.

What that means is because of the amount of hurt I felt due to family circumstances and overall disgust for myself, my faith in everything suffered. I mean everything and everyone. I never stopped believing in God but I stop seeking a connection with him.

How it began 

When I lost my big brother at the end of 2013 my relationship with God completely diminished. At that point in my life I was suffering internally quite a bit, the only person who knew was my husband and it affected our relationship tremendously.

When my brother died suddenly in a car accident it was like the straw that broke the camel’s back but in this case it felt more like a brick being thrown at my head.

The negative thoughts I already had came at me full swing and at the time I blamed God. I stopped praying, I stopped going to church and I stopped seeking connections with other believers.

    The silent period

For me my faith and my relationship with God had always thrived on me hearing His voice. Call me crazy but I always felt that I could hear His voice. I’m sure you’re thinking “well if you’re hearing voices in your head you have bigger issues” but I’m fairly positive if you listen, I mean really listen… a very deep meditative practice I’m talking about here… then you can hear the voice of God. Yet since late 2013 I’ve rarely experienced this.

It’s given me a very empty feeling.

It’s hard to explain but for years I’ve felt a general disinterest for most everything and I no longer seek relationships with others… there is really only one relationship I’m interested in and that is one with God… yet I make no steps to have that connection. I don’t try, I don’t even have the willpower to try.

       My issue with “Christians”

I think one huge reason why I won’t try to repair my relationship with God is my thoughts and feelings toward most evangelicals. The past few years have shown me just how hateful and judgmental many of those who claim to be “God’s people” truly are.

I never try to generalize an entire group of people (trust me as a black woman I know how terrible that is.) but sadly I’ve been disappointed time and time again by evangelicals and it’s hard for me to desire to visit any church, in fact I’m very uncomfortable with the idea at this point in my life.

I’ve watched many people I once admired spew hate towards anyone who is different than they are. In my head all I can think is “Well if they feel like that then what do they REALLY think about me.” It’s hard for me to believe that many of the southern evangelicals I’m surrounded by could view me as a “sister in christ” when every other Facebook post are clear signs they think otherwise.

I’ll also add that I have tried visiting many churches here and none made me feel at home. I felt uncomfortable and unwelcome at every church I’ve been to despite promises that I would love it.

 The lonely burden

Needless to say it’s been a lonely struggle. Yet one of my biggest issues is with myself, I’m not happy that I let my feelings about other believers impact my relationship with God because I truly believe God is good and I do not believe many evangelicals truly represent the goodness of God.

Though I can’t blame evangelicals completely … this brings me to my next point.

Grief

If there is one BIG thing I’ve learned this semester (I attend a Christian University) it’s been that grief presents itself differently for different people and one impact for me personally is that I distance myself. I distance myself in every way possible to prevent myself from further hurt or disappointment.

I’ve experienced a lot of hurt and disappointment and a lot of loss in one way or another. I’ve subconsciously build walls, walls so big that I’ve even pushed God out. I don’t let anyone in… I rarely let my vulnerabilities show.

The pain is there but I push it back and distract myself with work and projects and even blogging. It’s all a big distraction because I know God is there waiting for me to let it all out but I avoid Him.

Now this may seem a bit poetic and I tend to get a bit deep when discussing my spirituality but for me God is like the father I never had… He is like the brother I lost.. the mother who was actually there for me… the sister who was never murdered… the grandmother who was never sick… for me God was and still is everything that I never had.

Admitting that though is hard because it requires me to accept all of the loss I’ve experienced and that. is. hard.

I know that things have happened that have truly hurt my soul but I haven’t let that truly sink in. I know that connecting with God after it all will be taking that last step in the grief cycle and I’m not ready to do that.

 One last thing

Deep inside I really do desire to rebuild my relationship with God. I just don’t know how to let myself let go of all the things I’m holding onto that is standing in the way of that.

Also this may be the most confusing, conflicting post I’ve written but I’m leaving it that way because it’s a perfect example of how this feels for me.

I know I may not be the only believer struggling with this and I hope for my sake and yours that it passes.

Feel free to comment if you can relate to this, it’s both reassuring and comforting for me to know I’m not alone and thanks for reading!

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Post Election Blues: It’s over for you but not for me.

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I’ve tried to avoid this topic since learning the results. I’ve experienced a combination of terrible emotions since election day but today I’ve just accepted that this is an honest depiction of what America represents from my perspective today.

Allow me to elaborate. As a black female born in raised in the deep south I’ve become accustomed to ignorance, intolerance and bigotry. Christianity was pushed down my throat by the same people who made it very clear that my skin color was an issue and made me inferior in their eyes. I’ve received disapproving stares, threats, insults all because of the skin I was born with and yet my experiences are still minimized by those who’ve never lived any of this.

For me this election was proof of what I already knew.

America prides itself on being a nation of immigrants a melting pot but lets be clear. America was never great… at least never for people like me. You see, when my grandmother was my age it was illegal for her to marry a white man like I did, in fact she could not even attend school with white children nor could she even use the same bathroom. That was not very long ago. We like to pretend we are all afforded to same opportunities and that we are all treated the same but we are not.

I could go into detail explaining my experiences as a female and minority or tell the stories of other marginalized groups who have suffered in this country but this election has also shown me that people don’t want to understand simply because it doesn’t affect them and never will.

I will stop focusing on those who are unwilling to change and focus my attention on those who are willing to learn about and love those who are different. The only way we can truly make a difference is if we begin to take time to understand one another.

Some of us have very real anxieties and fears. If you won’t take the time to listen and understand them know that someday there will come a time when things change for you too. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, good or bad.

I have little faith in humans but I know there is something greater than all of us. We can waste time fighting each other over minor differences but we will have wasted what little time we have on this earth and that is truly sad.

I hope that one day we can come together but sadly that isn’t what I see.

The elections are over now and we have little control over what happens next but what we do have control over is how we treat each other. I’ve been attacked and I have attacked others with my words out of frustration, fear and anxiety. I’ve watched people spew their hate back and forth and I’m tired. It’s completely pointless.

We may be different complexions, genders, religions… we may even be attracted to different types of people but we all bleed the same. We all have dreams, fears and concerns. We are all born and we will all die. So lets make the time we have worthwhile and stop fighting one another.

Understand that some of us are very scared and that’s okay. We each have reasons for why we feel the way we do based on our personal experiences. There comes a time when we have to look at the grand scheme of things and realize how small we are in this universe and how many things we aren’t accomplishing because of our divisions.

I hope this country can be great one day but right now I do not see that.

The Halloween Blues

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I felt it necessary to be honest about how I’m REALLY feeling today. I LOVE Halloween it’s my favorite Holiday but today I don’t feel excited or happy. I honestly just feel “BLEH” that’s the only word I could find to accurately describe how I’m feeling.

Poor mental health never takes a break. Overwhelming feelings of sadness or just general disinterest are an everyday thing for me and many others and it doesn’t take a break just because the Holiday’s arrive.

I think it’s important to address this right now because a lot of people tend to get even more frustrated with people like me around the Holiday season. You typically hear things like …

“So what are your plans”

“Why the long face”

“It’s *Insert Holiday here* Be happy!”

“What’s going on, why are you upset?”

I wanted to be honest about what I would most likely spend my Halloween doing.

It’ll go a little something like this…

Take care of my son, while simultaneously being frustrated that I can’t dress him up and take him out to trick or treat because it’s too hot where I live, my husband has to work, and my son has learned how to say “NO” and run away from me every chance he gets.

So I’ll most likely end up at home watching cartoons… alone. I’ll feed my son, bathe him and put him to sleep like usual.

Then I’ll probably snuggle up on the couch put on a scary movie on while I scroll through Instagram looking at everyones Halloween pictures from the weekend. Tweet “Happy Halloween” to everyone and go to bed.

It won’t be fun and sadly I won’t enjoy it.

I know it’s not fun to read posts like these but I feel like the internet is so curated to make it seem like everyone is having so much fun. People like me see that and wish there was someone we could relate to that shared what they REALLY feel. That’s why I wrote this.

I realize not everyone out there is a mom or wife, but I do know there are other people out there who have few friends, distant relatives, little money or just a general disinterest in being around other people and today like every other Holiday won’t be as great for those people.

I just want other who are dealing with anxiety or depression to know they are not alone. I know how it feels to always be trapped inside of your mind and I understand that even on days you really want to let loose and have fun it’s extremely difficult.

So if you find yourself on your couch, numb watching Netflix tonight alone. Just know I’ll be doing the same exact thing.

You’re not alone.

 For the rest of you.

Happy Halloween!

5 Perfect Movies for Halloween!

Halloween is on a Monday but we all know everyone will be celebrating this weekend. If you’re like me and will most likely be on your couch (even if you love Halloween as much as I do) here are some great movies perfect for the occasion.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

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A Halloween classic I’d say. This movie is family friendly and can be a great one to watch with friends or family who scare easily. I mean who doesn’t love Jack Skellington?

The Conjuring 2

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Okay so this one is not for the faint of heart. I’m a true horror movie fanatic and this one caught me off guard a couple of times. You’ve probably all heard of the first one but I’d say this one is just as scary. So if you’re looking for a movie to watch with a group of people I’d definitely suggest this one but be prepared.

Coraline

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This is one of my favorite movies in general but I think it’s perfect for Halloween because it just sets a creepy aura (especially with the music). This one is perfect for those who want to get into the Halloween spirit but don’t want to be scared to death. I’d say its one you could watch with the family as well.

Insidious 2

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YES! Okay I just had to add this one. The first one was great if you haven’t seen it you should but this one is incredible. I’ve never enjoyed a second movie more than the first one until I saw this movie. This movie scared me and I’m usually not the type to get freaked out by Ghost. I’d suggest watching this one with friends if you scare easily. I’d also suggest that you watch the first one beforehand to get a better understanding of the plot but the storyline is amazing and this actress (pictured above) did a great job of freaking me out!

Corpse Bride

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I just LOVE this movie. I wouldn’t say its super scary but it’s definitely creepy and it’s family friendly so if you have little ones like I do it’s perfect for a Halloween slumber party. I also really like the music, so many Halloween feels!

So there you have it! If you haven’t seen the movies listed above watch one and let me know how you like it?

Also comment with some of your Halloween favorites!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

What it’s like to be a young parent

This is a topic that is always on the forefront of my mind and in my opinion should be shared.

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I had my son when I was 22. At 14 I thought that was the perfect age and it wasn’t until I was actually 22 that I realized how young I really was. I had yet to finish college and most people felt I was too young to be married let alone pregnant. I could agree now that may have been true but if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that life happens and the choices you make when challenges arise are what’s most important.

I’ve touched on this topic before but not in great detail. I do want to address how difficult it has been for me being a young parent but also the stigmas centered around parenting at a young age.

People tend to believe you are incapable. 

I’m not sure if anything bothers me more which is why I made sure to place this at the top of my list. I understand that a lot of growth and maturity comes with age but also from experiences and a lot of the experiences I’ve had are quite different than a typical 23 year old.

By the time I was 22 I was more than capable of understanding what it meant and what it took to take care of myself. Yes I was lucky enough to find someone to share these responsibilities with and it makes a HUGE difference but many people assume that 23 year olds are all immature teenagers. It’s not safe to assume everyone in the early 20’s still get financial support from their family or that they even have a family.

There are many who have had to learn to take care of themselves from young ages. It’s also problematic to assume everyone grows at the same rate as you do.

Many people tend to compare their mentality and experiences to others. I get that “No way I could have had a kid at 22” type of comment often and I always think “Well that’s just it, I’m not you.”

Assumptions that it was a mistake

I’ve noticed when referring to young parents some people unintentionally refer to it as an incident or something unwanted. May I add there is a difference between unplanned and unwanted. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mother but no I did not sit down and plan it out.

Even though I was married I did notice very little excitement, though my husband and I were extremely happy, I got a sense that others did not share that joy. Whether people admit it or not it’s lonely to be excited and not have people willing to sincerely celebrate with you.

I think it comes from the idea that you need to “have it all together” before having children. For some people that never happens and some people have half a dozen children before they are “successful.” Either way it’s important to pay attention to the tone you have when addressing young parents.

You have to deal with proving you are a responsible parent

I believe all parents deal with this to a certain extent but I feel young parents have to work twice as hard to show people they have it under control. You may be thinking what others feel about your parenting choices is not important oh but it is.

If we go to a doctor or a preschool it matters if they believe we are doing our jobs as parents adequately because the last thing we want are people believing someone else should have custody of our children.

I’ll admit this is a fear I’ve had since having my son. I know the stigmas surrounding young parents being immature and irresponsible and I have to be conscious of every move I make. I take those “So you’ve learned to change a diaper” type comments to heart because I’ve made it my biggest priority to be a good mother for my son and there is nothing worse than someone assuming I’m a irresponsible young mom.

This issue hits me hardest when I’m out in public especially if my son is having a hard time and is a bit fussy. Nothing is worse than those judgmental glares.

It’s difficult enough being a young parent without feeling scrutinized.

It’s hard but it’s worth it

It has been difficult learning to care for another human being and learning to balance achieving my goals with having a family. Being a mother has taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I have never been more motivated.

I will admit it’s not the case for all young parents and yes there are some who avoid their responsibilities as parents and put them off on someone else while they do the things they want to do. However, that is not all of us. Some of us have had to sacrifice some of the things we enjoy and put that energy into helping our little ones grow and in the meantime some of us grow because of it.

I never imagined a couple years ago I would be able to work, make good grades in college and raise a son but here I am. It can be done. Being a young parent can be one of the greatest things to happen to some people in terms of growth and I hope others consider this the next time they come across a young parent.

 

 

 

Breaking Destructive Cycles

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So many of us walk around everyday carrying so much hurt without even realizing it. Sometimes this can subconsciously affect how we interact with those around us, especially those closest to us.

Recently I found myself lashing out on my husband, and after really stopping to look at why I say and do the things I do to those I love, I came to realize I was holding on to pain.

There are many things I’ve held inside for years, things from my childhood, past disappointments and let downs that have held great power over me for so long.

I first had my heart broken by my parents. My dad left when I was a baby and my mother and I never had a loving relationship. She was both verbally and physically abusive to me throughout my adolescence and I often ran away as a result.

As a parent I know how important that bond between parents and children are. This is the first relationship we seek as humans, and this was never something I was ever able to have. I never knew how it felt to have a loving relationship with parents. I’d always felt like I was a burden and the constant verbal abuse and criticism I received growing up left me with lasting negative feelings about who I am and my capacity to be loved. I felt hated by those I’d been taught were created to love me. I never felt good enough.

For a long time I stopped thinking about it. I’d suppressed the painful memories and I thought those things didn’t affect me. I was wrong.

I became an impulsive young adult, and frequently had emotional outbursts. I sought attention from guys for a long time, never having a healthy relationship because I’d unknowingly take my inner frustrations out on whoever was closest to me. I HATED being left. I was always the one being dumped and I never handled it well. I never realized that being dumped was a trigger as it reminded me of the repressed memory of being left as a baby.

When I got married, and I married young, I was able to start to realize just how bad things were. I didn’t understand myself or why I had certain behaviors. I’d go from being overwhelmingly depressed to being overly anxious to suddenly being extremely mellow.

I’d completely lash out on my husband on numerous occasions over things that now seem so trivial. I’d pushed everyone who attempted to get close to me away. I never kept friends, I’d always end up losing contact and distancing myself from everyone. I often had suicidal and harmful thoughts. I was often sad or angry. I just never knew why.

I began seeing a counselor for a small period of time hoping I would get an idea. I was finally able to really take a look at the feelings I held inside on the daily basis and where they stemmed from. ALL of my negative feelings stemmed from past hurt involving family, namely my parents.

Many repressed painful memories resurfaced during this time. This gave me a lot of clarity but as a parent this concerned me. Cycles within the family often repeat themselves.

My mom was not awful to me for no reason, I believe it was because like me, she was broken. In different ways, by different people from different experiences but nevertheless broken.

The one thing I never want to do is hurt my child because I am hurting. I have to consciously think about every negative feeling I experience and where that emotion is coming from.

My biggest goal is to take the pain from my past and let that make me a better person, a better wife and mother. Letting go of hurt is hard. Forgiving those who hurt you is even harder. I work every day to focus all my love and energy on my family, and it’s difficult. Many time I fail. Many times I get frustrated and angry, I exclude myself and become detached but I continue to try.

There are many like me, still struggling with the pains of their past. Every day I have to make a conscious effort not to let those things define me and shape me into a bitter woman, but instead, allow me to grow.

My past is a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me.

 

Welcome to my corner of the web!

Hi and welcome.

My name is Raneisha Stassin, Rere for short, I am a public relations professional in training, a blogger and aspiring social media queen. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the web where I share my journey, experiences, opinions, and work with you all.

I hope you enjoy my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Thank you for visiting

-JustRere