I haven't been doing very well lately.
Things have been a struggle in most aspects of my life. With my job, with my family, with my crippling lack of a social life...although I guess financially I'm doing okay, which is something to be grateful for. And I'm still healthy, which is fantastic. But the point is that, overall, 2016 has been my worst year, hands down, since the year I came to the slow realization that the religion I'd built my whole life around was a lie.
It's been fun.
But what's different about being miserable this time around is that I feel infinitely better equipped to change my circumstances and adjust my attitude. As comforting as it used to be to say a prayer at night asking for everything to work out okay, I think that habit fed my sense of helplessness. I'm sure it wasn't the same for everyone, but when I was in high school and everything was awful (at least it was in my eyes) and it was too exhausting to try to fix things on my own, it was a relief to feel like I was allowed to push that responsibility off onto a benevolent deity rather than hunker down on my own. I think being a religious person enabled my natural tendency to resign myself to my fate. It's a tendency I still fight, but I think I'm far, far better at it these days.
What I struggle with the most right now is the fact that I have very little to call a safety net. I mean, my parents are good people—if I totally crashed and burned, they would let me move back in with them. But that would be indescribably uncomfortable. My family is more of a last resort than a safety net. They're the metaphorical equivalent of dialing 911 while you're lying on the ground with two broken legs because there was no safety net. Perhaps it's childish and prideful, but I despise the thought of accepting any support from them, whether it's emotional, professional, financial, or whatever. So I feel like I'm pretty much on my own, which makes me terrified and anxious, but it also makes me prouder of my small victories.
One of the positive aspects of the church is absolutely the community. The built-in safety net. I mean, I could argue all day about the ineffectiveness of priesthood blessings, the insincerity of assigned home teachers, and the I-made-this-underprivileged-family-in-the-ward-a-casserole humblebragging and all the cultural snarls that come with it, but in Mormonism, the safety net is there. It may come at a price and it may be frustrating, but it's there. It would be nice to have that again.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not going back. I don't want that kind of safety net. But it's certainly daunting to face a variety of problems without feeling like any person or any organization, no matter how flawed, has your back.
And I guess I don't know what to do about that, but I know I can do something. I don't know how to walk the rope without the net, but there is a certain twisted thrill in learning by making it all up as you go. Life by trial and error is much more exhilarating than life by rote. And at least I know they're my trials and my errors instead of someone else's treasure map to eternal salvation.
So I guess I'll see how this whole life thing works.