I have something to tell you. I don’t know why I’m telling you but I share everything on my blog, from my mental breakdowns to my fashion faux pas and pretty much anything I’m thinking about, I just verbally throw it up on here.
But there is something I sensor.
Something I struggle to come to terms with and something I worry if I talk openly about, will turn people against me.
I’m at ease with being mentally unstable (it’s almost fashionable now), I’m cool with you knowing about my ethnicity, my family and my insecurities.
From squirting breast milk to discussing my pelvic floor – you’ve seen and heard it all from me.
Well not quite.
There is something that most people around me, most people close to me don’t know.
Until recently when I’ve started to question why I’m hiding ‘it.’
I am worried it will turn you off.
The thing I’m hiding (and will probably not talk much about other than this post) is that I am now Christian.
Argh it feels so scary and big to write that. But it’s been a long time coming and I’ve had a long journey with it.
I was always a staunch atheist – I loved RE at school because I could see the holes in every argument, I studied philosophy of religion and ethics at a-level and I was always the strongest of atheists.
“What fools” I would think. “Who actually falls for religion?!”
I even studied Philosophy and Italian at University – the more facts (and Bertrand Russell) I read, the stronger an atheist I became.
But then it struck me.
When I was in a deep and dark place, I would wish to die.
I couldn’t deal with my life, I couldn’t deal with my memories and I couldn’t see a reason to live.
I was trying to help others but I couldn’t help myself.
A funny look, a negative word, anything, could send me spiralling into self-destruct.
But somehow a circle of people guided me in to church. They didn’t have to look after me, they didn’t have to believe in me, but they did.
I still couldn’t understand scripture or some of the historical facts but that’s when I started to realise that I could have faith without understanding everything or knowing anything.
Eventually I was baptised, kind of secretly just with church people, and it was amazing.
But I still didn’t feel clean enough for church.
I struggled desperately with my eating disorder and the repercussions that brought.
Why couldn’t God just change me?
I still self-harmed. I was like a sad child living in a young woman’s body.
I hated every part of me physically and internally.
Yes, I have been diagnosed with OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression… the list goes on.
But whilst these labels help to try and medicate me, they do little to change your future (obviously good care does help to an extent).
And then came another change in my life, and I hate saying this (as his head will get bigger), but my now husband Chris came along.
A sarcastic, food loving, sociable and genuinely super confident person. And as two opposites we fitted together straight away. He really did change my life with his frustratingly logical approach, his simple background and his perfect family – it really was the cast of Shameless (me) hooking up with Chris and The Waltons.
I didn’t believe that a person could just be happy and not have issues.
The worst thing that had ever happened to Chris was that he got a D at Spanish GCSE!
I won’t go into my answer to the same question… that’s for a later date.
Anyway the rest is history, I got up the duff within weeks and moved from Sheffield to Wakefield to live with Chris and The Waltons.
It was here that I was introduced to a lovely church.
But it took me a good few years before joining in with some of the groups and family activities.
I’d feared that an unmarried mum-of-two in sports wear and with copious shopping bags always hung around the buggy, would be shunned.
But far from it. It was the warmest and most welcomed I’d felt in a long while.
And it was full of people like me -faithful but doubtful.
Fast track 18 months…
And I’ve been attending the Alpha course at church, an introduction to Christianity. I’ve always steered clear of the Alpha course for fear that it’s just about agreeing to the Bible when actually a lot of it doesn’t make sense to me.
But thankfully my Aunty Lynette in Malaysia persuaded me otherwise.
It reminded me of my philosophy seminars where we would discuss and debate lots of Christian teachings and what they meant, especially for broken people like me.
Our group has now developed into Christian’s Against Poverty’s Release Course to help people like me with addictions or life controlling issues.
Why is it uncool to be Christian?
I am far from Bible-bashing and I welcome all faiths or no faith – I see it as a means to be kinder and it is something innate that comes from inside me.
It may not be “in vogue” to be Christian but I don’t care as it helps others and I, to lead better lives, which can only be good for the other people we meet.
So on finishing Alpha, I decided to join my course mates in being confirmed. I was unsure at first as I felt I had to have spent decades in the church but Alpha made me realise that I wasn’t alone in not feeling “enough.”
And I have to have faith in God as well as myself even though I’m far from perfect.
Here’s some of my confirmation story:
It’s easy to look back on your life as a series of negatives: Bullying, abuse, self-harm, eating disorders and mental breakdowns.
At first I would wallow in my misfortune, crying: “Why me?”
But now I am completing the toughest test which is to forgive the wrongs of my past and to turn terror into love.
To turn blame into giving.
With my new faith-found eyes I can see how amazing my life has been and what I have overcome.
I now talk openly about self-harm and eating disorders in the hope of helping others.
And whilst life isn’t perfect, my mental health is more stable with the help of church, my own little family and my safe home.
There has always been some inner strength that has guided me through. I grew up without religion, I was bitter and I thought to be a Christian you had to be ‘perfect’ -going to church in your Sunday best – when all I wanted to do was drink myself into oblivion.
Christianity wasn’t for broken, sports-clothes-wearing, damaged goods like me.
Now I realise though that it is for people like me and you.
And my faith has grown since becoming part of my local church attending a breakfast club, Family activities and now the Alpha course.
I am so thankful for my life, my faith and my family today.
I have found my calling too which is here to share my story through speaking out, blogging and film-making.