For A Long Time I Believed In ‘Father’ But Even The Devil Believes In God… What I’ve Never Had Is Faith

“Atheists demand evidence of God through the five senses with the caveat no one can use as proof the world or the universe or a butterfly’s wing.”
Just an observation I made watching a documentary.

God wants friendship
God wants fame
God wants credit
God wants blame
God wants poverty
God wants wealth
God wants insurance
God wants to cover himself
What God wants God gets

“What God Wants Pt. 2”; ‘Amused To Death’, Roger Waters (1992)

I’ve never had any faith. There were a few days scattered over two summers when I had some belief but even the Devil believes in God… I’ve always liked that line. When I was a kid I spent a few summers at an Evangelical Summer Camp, I even counselled there for a summer when I was seventeen. After the divorce my grandmother paid for my brother and I to head down to the Eastern Townships of Quebec, to a really nice camp on a lake with Vermont on the other side. We went as campers four times. Having been raised in a Maoist training camp run by my father my first year at camp, at nine-years old, was my first introduction into Religion.

The first year I was just stunned to be around so many people, I don’t remember actually listening to anything anyone was saying. Plus, I was a bit of a mess. My running shoes fell apart the second day so I had to wear knee-high rubber boots for eleven days. I was also wetting the bed almost every night, by the end of the first week the cabin stank but the counsellor was cool and had everyone air their mattress out. Not just me. But then, in the second week, there was a massive stench which no one could figure out. Ended up one of the kids had caught some fish and put them under the cabin for safekeeping. On the twelve-hour trip home I remember asking my mother who Jesus Christ was… actually I told her who He was… “there’s this Jesus guy and he can turn stuff into other stuff and walk through walls and I’m pretty sure he can fly.”

It was the second year I was at Camp, I think when I was twelve, when I started listening to what the Chaplin was saying. He was a stocky old-school prison Chaplin, the kind of Bible Talking Dude with blue-ink tats and lots of stories he could relate the Bible to us with. A twelve-stepper who looked like John Goodman after he lost some of the weight. I’m pretty sure he converted all the fatherless boys that year. We had an open-air campfire every night, where each cabin had one night to put on a skit and there was singing, then a couple of testimonials and a final prayer. Then, as we were all standing up and leaving Chaplin Dude would remind us that if anyone felt ready to accept the Word of God and take something with Jesus into something and someone over there with something, we could approach him at anytime.

Very few kids actually would, they were all from the same Montreal-based Evangelical church which ran the camp. Other than my brother and myself there were a handful of non-Church related kids. So towards the end of camp — they were two weeks long — I walked up to Chaplin Dude and said I was interested in this accepting process. Thing was, he wasn’t just a one night routine, he was always around playing sports with us, he had two Bible study half-hours a day with Everyone plus one 45-minute ‘in cabin’ thing with just our counsellor and fellow cabin-kids, and Chaplin Dude would show up and speak for a few minutes. And Dude had stories. Drugs, gang banging, stealing, running with Satan’s Choice, assault and prison where he found God and started his recovery. I mean, Holy Fuck.

.

So we sat on the stairs to the Recreation Hall, looking out over the lake, and he told me about the process — little prayer, a couple of confessions and Blah-daa, I was absolved and Born Again. Thing is, I didn’t believe and I had no faith. Not really. Not in God or Jesus. I was just looking for a father and, for two weeks, this guy had showed up at my door more often than my real father ever had. When I was a child — younger than a year — my father got so jealous of my mother spending a night with her friends that, when she got home, he held me out a fifth-storey window and threatened to drop me. I didn’t know this, of course, when Chaplin Dude put his hand on my hand, shut his eyes tight and prayed for God to accept me… and he really meant it, this Dude was not fucking around. He was saving my Soul. This is not something you do randomly. No snide clergy / child-fucking jokes but it was a very intimate process.

He prayed for a good long time, I opened my eyes at one point and he was right there beside me, this huge Dude, with his eyes tightly shut and his eyebrows crushing down, and one huge hand on his Bible. He talked to God about what a good kid I was, how I helped the counsellors and what a good sportsman I was, and about how I had suffered through not having had a real and honest father… and he used my name, like he was introducing me to God.

I don’t remember how long the feeling lasted. I know I lost whatever God Stuff he had given me almost the day I got home. I know, the next summer I went to camp, he was there and I asked to be Born Again Again. The first time I remember hearing the name ‘Jesus Christ’ was when I was six or seven, during a late night ‘debate’ between my father and the rest of his Maoist Brigade. I was hiding at the top of the stairs and I heard my father say “they can believe in Santa or they can believe in Christ, but they can’t have both.”

I don’t remember my father holding me five storeys over concrete, but his attitude towards me hardly changed over the eight years we were mostly kind of living in the same place. I was a tool he used to keep my mother on his side. He had nothing to do with raising me. Some random member of The Maoist Appreciation Society he ran taught me to tie my shoes. The older kid down the street taught me to ride a two-wheeler. My aunt tucked me in at night and made breakfast in the morning. My father, apparently an avid soccer player, never kicked a ball around with my brother or myself… I know this because in gym class I sucked at soccer. My father would play with me on the floor in the TV room, then get angry when I wouldn’t play with him in the way he thought we should be playing. He would sulk and yell at me as though I were an adult instead of a six-year old child. We were rough-housing one night and I hit him relatively hard and, with other Members looking on, he hit me as hard as he could and knocked me across the room.

…this was going to be a lot funnier when I started. I still haven’t dealt with any of this. Three or four years ago, as I was falling apart from living fourteen years with untreated manic depression, I interviewed several members of the Cult he ran during the seventies for The Book… the manic depression breakdown I was already going through was compounded with eighty hours of venting by the people who had abandoned me, the people who let the psychological and emotional abuse done to me and my brother happen without complaint. As an adult I stared them all in the face and lied, I told each one of them I was doing just fine so they’d open their faucet and pour their shit all over me.

I told someone recently that taking the Lithium, getting their manic depression under control, would set their clinical depressions loose for the first time. But to be careful, because the clinical ones are actually harder, because they’re real. The manic depressions are an illusion, they’re forced on us by our broken brains. But having to find your ideal of a Father’s love in the closed eyes of a Chaplin… that’s real. That’s insane. It’s unconscionable… it’s fucking evil.

.

.

About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Punk. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to For A Long Time I Believed In ‘Father’ But Even The Devil Believes In God… What I’ve Never Had Is Faith

  1. exactscience says:

    Every now and again I run across a blog post that seems to be talking directly to me. Of course it isn’t I just happen to be in a place where that post fills in some gaps in my thoughts and wraps me up in a warm html blanket and leaves me to it.

    This post ran up to smacked me across the head then started laying on hands for me. . . and you know what you are right: it is fucking evil

  2. nursemyra says:

    shit I don’t know what to say. that bit about your father holding you out a window….. fuck!

    hope writing it out helps

    (cheering for you from australia)

  3. markps2 says:

    Roger Waters is an idiot.

  4. justinmohareb says:

    On the twelve-hour trip home I remember asking my mother who Jesus Christ was… actually I told her who He was… “there’s this Jesus guy and he can turn stuff into other stuff and walk through walls and I’m pretty sure he can fly.”

    I think you may have confused him with J’onn J’onz, the Martian Manhunter.

    Good piece. I think I need a drink now.

  5. Gabriel... says:

    Don’t be a spaz Mohareb, J’onn could read minds, Jesus couldn’t read minds. And I’m pretty sure Jesus never wore a cape, J’onn had a cape… plus Jesus got his flying ability from his armbands and I’m not sure the origins of J’onn’s flying ability were ever revealed. Hey, I know, maybe instead of drinking yourself into a stupor every night you could start a big boy blog.

    Thanks Nurse Myra and ExSci. Writing it out is my second stage of dealing with stuff like this, after letting it bounce around in my brain for a long, long time. I’ve only been able to coherently write about the clinical depressions for a few months, but it has only been about a month or so since I actually started. I’m still not even sure if I want to use Salted as a place to put them.

    Mark, if you’re commenting on his leaving Pink Floyd then I totally agree.

  6. thordora says:

    i wish I could make it better for you.

    I never had any faith either. I tried so hard after my mother died to find it. I begged and pleaded and waited like a good catholic. Nothing. I wanted faith but it didn’t want me.

  7. Pingback: Reaching The One Hundred Post Mark And Looking Back At My Recovery So Far « …salted lithium.

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