*This is a continuation of prior posts. If you would like to read this meaty story from the beginning, please click on the following links below*
4. The Three Amigos
The months of July, and August would be one of the most mentally overwhelming months of my life. Even with this outside consolation I was getting, my head was like a war zone. I would constantly think myself into the same circle. I mentioned a pattern that I experienced every single day during the first 40 days of the relationship. I’d get anxious, I wonder why I’m anxious, I then think that I’m anxious because I’m making the wrong decision, I psyche myself out, get even more nervous about seeing her because I’m so psyched out, I see her, I’m perfectly fine, I enjoy every moment with her, I leave with high hopes, I go to bed at peace, I wake up anxious again, rinse and repeat.
I felt extremely discouraged during those early days because I couldn’t understand why I felt so anxious. It was emotionally exhausting, and at times I felt really down. I wondered if I was doing us both a disservice by trucking on. It was tough, because I was truly happy when I was with her. All my anxieties melted away when I was with her, though there were days when some of that anxiety made its way in. Most of my anxiety was always in the morning when I woke up, and it would linger through the day. I felt at a loss, but I was always afraid of talking to people about what I was going through because I thought people would think that there was something wrong with me.
Two blog posts ago, I mentioned how Catholicism had what we called vocations. Those vocations are marriage, the priesthood, religious life (nuns, brothers), and consecrated single life (you live in society, but you vow to be single, and celibate for life). For the longest time, I wanted to get married. It was a talk at a men’s conference a few months back that made me wonder if I was truly doing what God asked of me. I had been single for so long that I wondered, what if I had a calling to the priesthood that I was running from. What if I was using this relationship as an excuse to run from that. The truth of the matter was that I never wanted to be a priest. It was the last thing I ever thought of being in life.
The way I heard of vocations, my literal Autistic mind would interpret religious vocations as something that dragged you into them kicking, and screaming. I always thought the priesthood was this thing that sneaks up on you, and snatches you away from anything you planned on doing; Because sadly, that’s how I felt when it came to God redirecting my life. I had my heart set on something, he’d have a drastically different plan, and he’d shut doors right in my face. It’s like being on a road trip to one location, and God puts you on a detour that puts you way off from where you were traveling to in the first place. My original goal in life was to be a composer in the game industry, and now I’m in the field of assistive technology. I planned on going to WPI for college, I ended up at Becker College.
I spent so much of my life trying to carve my own path only to get severely derailed each time. April of 2017 was the first time in my life that I asked God what he wanted me to do, and I was always afraid of the answer. I was in this new relationship, and I had this deep rooted fear that out of nowhere, God was going to snatch me away, or end it drastically in order to force me in another direction. It felt like such a dumb anxiety, so I never told anyone what I was going through. I thought people would think there was something wrong with me. I thought people would freak out over the fact that I had this awesome relationship with an amazing woman, and that I felt uncertain in where I was at. I carried the anxiety, and pain with me alone that summer, or so I thought.
I mentioned towards the end of the last post that God had a plan to keep me on track, and to prevent me from making a really dumb decision driven by distress. The same thing that happened to me that moment in front of The Blessed Sacrament would repeat itself, and that always included an encounter with a trio that has been keeping it real thus far. Every time my anxieties brought me to my lowest point, I would encounter St Joseph, The Holy Family in some form during my travels. I started taking pictures of each encounter in order to track the trend. I have about 40 of these, including the first two from the last blog post.
This encounter happened at house I frequent. This was the morning after we made the relationship official. I was super anxious while completing a training. This tag has been there for several months, but this was the first time I noticed it. I was pretty comforting, as would the rest of these encounters.
This encounter happened on the way home from a client’s house the following day.
This next encounter happened at a monthly spaghetti dinner that I attend at the Harvard Catholic Center. I was feeling really anxious about everything on my mind while chatting with others. I turned to re position myself when I saw this statue. It still remains at the center today, and I secretly hope someone give this statue to me.
One morning before I left to visit an appointment, I was feeling pretty down. I had woken up anxious, so I sat in prayer with my anxiety. When got to my appointment, I realized it was across the street from this Carmelite Monetary that housed these statues.
While browsing facebook, this popped into my newsfeed that same day.
I was at another appointment feeling anxious when I encountered this.
Not gonna lie, I forgot we had a copy of The Nativity until I felt anxious one day while looking at our DVD collection.
When in the parking lot of a church I went to for adoration, I was feeling pretty anxious when I turned around, and ran into this statue.
This encounter is pretty wild, because I caught it in the cabinet of a character in a show I watch during the summers. Those who watch the show Power know how violent, and sexually graphic it can get. This particular day, I was extremely anxious; it was to the point that the anxiety wore me down. I felt as if I was dragging myself through the day. I felt kind of hopeless, and wondered if there was an end to this. I was adamant I wouldn’t run into The Holy Family that day. Boy was I wrong. It was pretty mind blowing to know all the places God could reach me in my times of need. Turns out a violent TV show just happens to be one of them.
This is an interesting encounter. While at an appointment, I’m typing when I start getting really anxious. While squirming/fidgeting, I knock a pillow off of the couch. I go behind the couch to retrieve the pillow when I see this statue.
I took a look at a calendar in the kitchen when I was feeling a bit anxious. This calendar had a different saint for each month. I flip to March (my birth month), and what do ya know? Here he is.
I was walking our newly acquired dog one day. I was feeling pretty anxious before we left. During that walk, I felt even more anxious. While walking, I found this outside of a house.
While browsing the internet, I found this while scrolling through facebook.
I found this while leaving an apartment building where I also felt anxious.
I changed my calendar to September, and was greeted by this. As you can tell by the others, I was pretty anxious until I saw this.
I was feeling pretty anxious that day until I started scrolling through r/Catholicism, and saw this. Don’t mind the random stranger’s baby in this shot.
I was feeling anxious when my internet cookies remembered I was looking at St Joseph/Holy Family Statues.
xli (The guy with the Holy Family shirt)?
There’s this other wild encounter that happens much earlier in this timeline. I was feeling very anxious while at a party. Some dude joined a conversation I was in. This guy had a t-shirt with the Holy Family on it; it was wild. Sadly, I felt weird about asking to take a picture of his shirt. Just know that it did actually happen.
They say in Christianity that when something happens 40 times, or more, it bears great significance. I could’ve only had one encounter with the Holy Family, and that would’ve been the end of it. My mind was such a mess that summer that God felt the need to drive it home more than 40 times that marriage, and family was my calling. I eventually told my now fiancee what I was going through. She was pretty understanding, and it eventually brought much comfort knowing I wasn’t going through this alone. I would soon learn with time that my anxieties stemmed from old wounds I forgot still existed.
5. Show Me Your Wounds, and I’ll Show You Mine!
Battle scars are an inevitable part of life, and are bound to linger with us until the day we die. Most of these scars kind of fade with time, but some wounds stay fresh because we don’t properly treat them. It took a bit of time for me to realize that the sometimes crippling anxiety I felt that summer was the result of two lingering problems.
1. My own dad instilled a lack of trust in my own judgement growing up. It makes it hard for me to make really difficult decisions. I sometimes fear that if I choose wrong, I’ll fuck everything up.
2. I never truly made peace with the way my last relationship ended.
The second one is pretty important, because it was the root of a cycle that caused much distress during the summer. The waking up anxious the morning after leaving her the night prior was the key to actually solving this. It was this moment that always began the cycle that starts with me panic, followed by me psyching myself out, followed by my feelings subsiding. I never understood why I woke up anxious after being with her. I would learn later that I suffered from some form of separation anxiety. This anxiety increased in intensity if the date prior was a really good one which there were plenty of. At this point, you’re probably wondering how something as simple as a really good date could cause so much anxiety. To answer this, we need to go back to how my prior relationship ended.
The last time my ex and I ever hung out with each other in person was on Memorial day of 2015. It was a pretty sunny, warm day with dope weather. We had a picnic in the park, played cards, got ice cream, and walked around the park for a few hours. It was one of the best days of my life at the time. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much she was suffering on the inside. She was never able to adequately communicate her lack of attraction to me because she herself didn’t truly understand at the time what was going on. A lot of warning signs flew over my head because they never seemed like warning signs. They were presented as issues that were simply a product of having never been in a serious relationship; issues that would work themselves out over time. At the time, the solution was to be patient.
It was never brought up again, but some subtle warning signs manifested that didn’t seem like warning signs. We had planned to hang out at my place, but at the last minute she changed up the date so that it was one that didn’t involve being at my place. This would happen a few times, and looking back, I realize that avoiding my place meant avoiding places where we could be intimate (not sex, but cuddling, kissing, anything nonsexual where we got psychically close). The week after that Memorial day meeting, we didn’t see each other because of her work schedule. The following week was where things started to seem funky.
She stopped saying “I love you” which was the first major red flag. She also became super dodgy, and barely responded to my texts. Getting in touch with her became super difficult. She finally said that we would chat on skype towards the end of the week. I knew something was up, but I told myself I was overreacting. I thought that I would get to the end of the week, and we’d be laughing on skype like we usually do. I thought that I would be laughing at myself like I usually do when I overreact about something dumb. Unfortunately, my fears were realized when she popped on to skype crying. She ended the relationship, and I felt so blindsided. I missed many subtle warning signs, so this felt so sudden. The very first relationship I was in slowly fell apart over the course of a month and a half. We fought a lot, stopped talking to each other for a few weeks at one point, and fought some more. When it was time to break up, it was much needed. This one hurt because I had what I thought was one of the best days ever followed by this two weeks later.
I didn’t realize until later how much she had been hurting towards the latter portion of the relationship. Having to end things must’ve hurt her more than I realized. I hated her a little bit at my lowest points, but after a while, I felt sad for her. Still, the fact that something could end just like that messed with me, even all the way into this new relationship. I feared a drastic end to the relationship. I feared that things would get really good; that I would feel safe, and that the carpet would be ripped from under me. I feared that God was going to jump in, and find some way to get the last laugh. I know God doesn’t work like this, and that he wants nothing more than for me to be happy. I was understandably scared. That second relationship ending with what felt like no warning was pretty traumatic as dumb as it sounds.
I’m thankful The Holy Family came through the way they did during times of great anxiety. I wonder about all the dumb decisions I would’ve made I had I not had such powerful encounters. As I grew more comfortable in the relationship, the prospect of marriage became a thing. Everything was lining up as it should. I had a potential ring; I just needed to get the parental blessings, and find a way to propose. I chickened out a few times when I had openings to ask her parents. I also wanted to get her nana’s blessings since I saw her as the matriarch of the family. At this point, she wasn’t living at my fiancee’s place due to health issues. Asking her got harder, and soon, it was about to be a race against the clock. God’s timing is perfect timing, but that doesn’t mean I’m always fond of it. Time was about to be against us in the worse way possible, and it would be the end of an era that would kick my ass into gear.
To be continued….