Private Joker, do you believe in the Virgin Mary?

Been thinking today about something the priest was saying at mass this weekend.  The mass I went to was said for my dad, so I think that made me pay extra attention.  It’s sort of strange.  My mom is a really devout catholic, and she raised me to be catholic, too.  But dad was never a religious person.  Toward the very end of his life, he was baptized.  I don’t know if he really wanted it, or he was just scared and covering his bases.  But whatever the case, when he died he was catholic and that at least brought mom some peace.  I guess they say that praying for people in purgatory or saying a mass for them helps to get them to heaven. I don’t know where my dad is other than in the ground, but hopefully the masses and prayers get him one step closer to the pearly gates if he is lingering around in limbo somewhere.  I hope he is content.  I hope he has found some peace.

Religion has always played a big part in my life.  When I was at my craziest and couldn’t sleep I spent my mornings at daily mass and was at church as soon as they opened the doors.  Hyper religiosity was a part of the psychosis.  So in a way sometimes I am cautious to be too religious as it is a kind of door way into the supernatural and the semi insane.  At least the rituals and routine always have felt like home to me.  And of course there is always some doubt in the back of my mind.  What does all of this mean? But what is faith without doubt?

But anyway, back to what the priest was saying.  He was talking about how all sin or weakness or vice boils down to three tenants of the human condition— a need for bodily pleasure, a need for attention, and a need for control.  Thinking about how right he was.  I think about food.  When I’m stressed, I eat. When I’m happy, I eat. When I am sad, I eat. I had been getting better about it.  Before dad died.  Finding more healthy ways to deal with emotions. Stress and joy and sadness and angst and anxiety…eating or drinking or eating and drinking don’t work…sex, only a temporary fix.  Pain, tattoos, piercings, there is only so much one can do without drawing too much attention. I don’t know there’s always something to fill the hole, to fill the void.

According to him, everyone has one of these vices, but I’m fairly certain I have all three.  A need for bodily pleasure, a need for attention, a need for control.  Attention is a weird one.  Most of my life, I have dodged the spotlight.  I’ve been shy.  I’ve been self-depreciating.  I don’t like myself and don’t expect that others do either. But I’m pretty sure there is a part of all of us that demands attention.  That finds pleasure in being acknowledged.  That feels fulfilled when validated by others.

The need for control.  Isn’t that the truth?  It is so hard to believe that something is out of my control.  I demand instant gratification, instant answers, instant satisfaction, and everything in my environment is under my perview.  The driving obsession with control is definitely a constant source of stress but also comfort so deep down.

It makes me look at all of my vices, all of my little flaws, all of my self-loathing, all of the good things and the bad things that make me who I am.  Who am I anyway?  At my core I am a pleaser. All I ever want to do is to do good and make people happy.  I am a self-sacrificer. I don’t know if that is a good trait or a bad trait.  Making everyone else happy will at some point cause hurt feelings for not making everyone happy all at once and leaves me in a place where I am never quite happy with myself.

I am smart, I am kind, I am loving, I am empathetic, I am giving, I am strong, I am powerful. I am a mom, I am a friend, I am a nurse, I am critical of others, I am forgiving, I am loving, I am cynical, I am hard, I am incredibly soft, I love until I break, I am a bottom liner, I am intolerant of poor performance but tolerant of everything else.  I am loving and I am cold I am drama and I am calm.

I love everyone else and I hate myself.  I feel like I am not good enough at anything.  I am smart, But not smart enough, I am not strong enough.  I am weak, I am indulgent.  I cannot say no.  I am consumed with vice I cannot get over.  The words in my head…I am fat, I am ugly, I am stupid, I am shy, I am weak, I am nothing, I am not enough, I am a bad mom, a bad everything.

I don’t even know where I am going with this.  The human condition.  Self-reflection.  I don’t know.  The search for meaning when maybe there is none. The mysteries that lines all that you think you stand for.  The values that just scream why bother.  I don’t know.  The bereavement lady told me to write. Even if it goes nowhere and doesn’t make sense, so I write, senseless or sensible.  I write. Maybe it helps gets me through things.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Joker, do you believe in the Virgin Mary?

Private Joker: Sir, no, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Well, well, Private Joker, I don’t believe I heard you correctly!

Private Joker: Sir, the private said “no, sir,” sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Why you little maggot, you make me want to vomit!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: You Goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary, or I’m gonna stomp your guts out! Now you DO love the Virgin Mary, don’t ya?

Private Joker: Sir, NEGATIVE, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Joker, are you trying to offend me?

Private Joker: Sir, NEGATIVE, sir! Sir, the private believes any answer he gives will be wrong and the Senior Drill Instructor will only beat him harder if he reverses himself, SIR!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Who’s your squad leader, scumbag?

Private Joker: Sir, the squad leader is Private Snowball, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Snowball!

Private Snowball: Sir, Private Snowball reporting as ordered, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Snowball, you’re fired. Private Joker’s promoted to squad leader.

Private Snowball: Sir, aye-aye, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Disappear, scumbag!

Private Snowball: Sir, aye-aye, sir!