Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 7 - Nearing the End

We left off in Installment 6 where Libby grabbed a knife on the way to her dorm at school.  She had just given what she called, "the performance of my life" where the girls of her college dorm ate up every joke and every laugh she had to give.  But, like many funny people, she was dying inside. Now, it was her turn to literally try to end it all and die for good.  Let's follow her to her room.
*****

So- anti climatic, this.  I scratched myself with it. Didn't even produce blood.  But the fact that I had actually moved closer to hell scared me to death.  I told a girl I trusted, who told the dorm mother, who called the college president, who called the conference president... My name was making the rounds.  In the middle of the night, they came to the dorm to yell at me, and pray with me, and generally discuss the sorry state of my soul.  I did pray, and I guess I got some relief, because for awhile, I was ok.  Or not as not-ok as I had been earlier.

This was right before Christmas break, and somehow I went home and acted as normally as I could.  Went back after break, and actually made some friends (whose friendships I value to this day), and had a semblance of a life outside the spiritual.  I knew I was being watched for signs of depression. You know, demonic possession, so I managed to stuff things down even further.  Emotionally, I was numb.  My soul felt dead, and I knew I was just never going to be good enough for god.  But some how, I hid all this from people.

When the second school year started, I got a new bff, and then, eventually, my first boyfriend!!  I so did not know how to relate to people.  I had never in my life been loved.  I was an oozing hole of need, which severely strained my relationship with my bff.  My boyfriend...I was on autopilot with him.  We weren't allowed to ever be alone, so conversations did not go deep.  I thought he might be my salvation. After all, girls were expected to marry, bear kids, and let the husband make all the choices.  So I wrapped myself up in these plans.  That summer, it hit me undeniably that I did not love him.  I needed to be married, though, to be loved, so I drowned out that inner little voice.

During my second year, the pastor's wife of the church I attended while in school (still part of the Allegheny Conference,those were the rules) took note of my behavior.  The constant praying, the suicide "attempt", the cloying neediness, the way I was just about the only girl who didn't go home on weekends or shorter breaks...  I only lived 45 minutes away.  I was scolded soundly for this, too, by no less than the president of the college.  My mom had cancer; I should be going to help her.  I'd feel guilty when she died.  (she did, I didn't, how bad a person does that make me?)  Any way, the pastor's wife got together with my bff, and decided I was an incest victim.  (I'd told no one).  This was actually pretty forward-thinking of her.  She got a book on it, and my bff and I went through it in an attempt to heal me.  That, I think, was so sweet, and even sincere, but she was in no kind of way equipped to do that.  The church didn't believe in mental health professionals at all.  They were satanic! They opened the door! So that was how they tried to help me.

Instead, they sent me into a tail-spin.  What I had managed to keep wrapped in a box now overwhelmed me.  I had no idea how to cope with this. None. Zero.  It became a monster, bigger than me, and chasing me, chasing me always.  Although I continued to seek god, it was really all I could do to get dressed in the morning.  god became, out of necessity for my survival, second, or even further down in my mind.

Then, in '89, mom died.  I was at school, and dad called, saying she was in the hospital, but was good, real good.  The thing was, he always acted the opposite of what was going on with her.  If she stubbed her toe, he called 911.  When he said things were good, we needed to call 911. So, I knew I needed to get there, fast.  She hung on through surgery, and we left (my bff and I) back to school after a couple days. We had just gotten back when my brother called to tell me she had died.

*****

The final installment will follow Libby to the "getting out" of her spiritual misery.  She still has room to fall lower - and she will - but the end is good and still is writing itself to be a true victory.

1 comment:

  1. Actually I have experienced a similar no way out sort of depression. My parents did not believe in mental health professionals so I secretly went and saw one at my college and paid in cash. It did not help. Similarly I felt helpless and no good. I think most evangelical churches, or atleast the one I went to, emphasize a striving for a standard too close to perfection. I think they need to focus on the fact that we are saved by grace so we have recieved forgivenes for all sins: Past, present and future. While self improvement is good the feelings of being no good and fears of backsliding it brings up are terribly counter productive.

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