Surviving Giving up.I was 21 in 1969. In June of that year my girlfriend came to visit me from Michigan where she was a junior at a university there. She was 20. While we were walking in Griffith Park after we both got off of work late in June I asked her whether we would have a sexual relationship after we were married. This was an important question as we had been celibate for the 2 years we had gone together. She said,being a very religious person, that she wanted to remain celibate after marriage. Being from the Los Angeles area, I knew this just wasn't going to work for me. I thought about it a couple of days and said to her, "I think we should break up because I want to have children and we won't have children if we are celibate." She was very hurt by this revelation and went away to a church camp in northern California where both our families attended most summers for 1 or 2 weeks.
I felt in shock knowing I had made the right decision. However, living with the emotional consequences of giving up a woman and a life I had planned around her for the next (at least) 20 years of my life collapsed me emotionally into a very strange place.
At the time I knew I was doing the right thing. I still think it was the right thing to do. However, emotionally it took me to the beginnings of a suicidal self destructive reality. At first, I didn't see it quite that way. I was just a little scared. Then my parents moved from Glendale where we all still lived together to San Diego. Then things started to get stranger for me. I lived temporarily with my Aunt in the Hollywood Hills in a great house with a pool on a hill. Eventually, I decided it was too weird living with my Aunt after a couple of months and decided to move to Santa Monica. I wound up in Venice on the beach which at that time was a lot like the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco was in 1969. This put me through many changes as I had been living a very different kind of life than that before. This life was much more experimental in every way. By early November 1969 I was getting sort of confused and decided to move to San Diego with my parents as people in Venice were taking drugs and jumping out of windows and dying and various other crazy things. I just decided that it was way to crazy a place for me to survive at that time in my life.
By late November I had been excommunicated from the church I had grown up with my parents in. At this point I wasn't just scared about the changes in my life I was formally suicidal. I guess I was formally suicidal for about 2 years. For me, this didn't mean that I was going to formally kill myself. It just meant that everything I had grown up to value in life had died including me. Now you might think this was bad. However, out of it came the rest of my life.
After I had hit the suicidal wall for about 2 years these were my thoughts."IF IAM GOING TO CHOOSE TO LIVE AT ALL IT WILL BE COMPLETELY ON MY TERMS. NO ONE ELSE, NO RELIGION, NO PERSON, NO IDEALOGY HAS ANY HOLD AT ALL ON ANY OF MY DECISIONS. EVERYTHING IS NOW COMPLETELY ON MY TERMS AND NO ONE ELSES."
Like I said, I had died psychologically and realized that I was my father, my mother, my creator and my destroyer. I was completely in charge of whether I lived or died and of any thought, feeling, spoken word, or action I would take.
This gave me a freedom that no one else I knew even realized they had. Most of my peers were so busy getting degrees, getting married, breaking up, dying, going crazy in various ways that they seemed incredibly immature to me at that point in my life.
I found I couldn't really live for myself. I found I had to reach out in ways I never had before for others that I could relate to. Instead of looking for a girl to marry, I looked for girls who could get me through the night, the day, the week, the year. My life became in the moment because it was the only way I knew to survive my inner torment of all the changes in my life.
This time in my life started me to turn against organized religion because I had been so badly burned. I saw religions as both a source of life to some but as a source of suicide for me. However, being religious and being spiritual I defined as being two completely different things. I defined organized religion and going to church as DEATH for me and my friends. I defined spirituality or having ones own unique experiences with God ongoing on a daily basis. I defined being religious and going regularly to church as being a social action like going to a country club which in reality had absolutely nothing to do with REAL experiences with God. It might or might not be a source of God to any one person. It might be for some people just a place to pick up someone to get laid. Pardon my cynicism but I'm being very real here and not being fake.
I began to see organized religion and going to church regularly much like people view heroin. It is a drug and when people are on that drug they are completely vulnerable to the people who attend those churches who are not on the church drug who take advantage of everyone else, psychologically, sexually and monetarily.
So for me, surviving giving up was a very good thing. It completely defines who I became as an adult. I still view organized religion like Heroin and feel sorry for those who don't realize the dangers therein many times until it is too late for them to survive it.
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