I defined myself as an atheist at a very young age, about 11, before I could really understand the profoundness of such a label. I was very much influenced by my Hebrew school teacher who was ironically an atheist himself. I was raised Jewish though God was never a huge part of my upbringing. When we celebrate our religion it was centered on the culture, which was sacred to my mother – there was never any emphasis on the God portion; therefore I grew up without any real strong ties to a higher power of any kind. I always thought of myself as an “intellectual,” and any real intellectual is too intelligent to believe in something as abstract and mystic as a God when there is science to explain so much of this world’s magic.
As I got older I became a little less sure of myself and my own intellect and changed my own definition to that of an agnostic. I did not feel a tie to a higher power but I couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t one. Who was I to be definite about the truth of anything in this world? As my insecurities grew, so did my darkness. I became isolated and lonely. I felt disconnected and I constantly questioned “why.” My family and few friends branded me as negative and overly emotional. I apparently overreacted to all of life’s occurrences as I was, to those around me overly sensitive. This led me to silence myself in fear of reacting in the wrong manner. I couldn’t release my feelings in any way so I started to stuff them with food, alcohol, and drugs. I began to purge my food as a violent release of my sadness and anger and I would get wasted on drugs and alcohol; I could numb the pain all out and attain the illusion of joy.
I still felt disconnected and without real connections to my family and peers. I wasn’t connected because I wasn’t connected to myself. I was not present; I was not in my body. I was not emotionally available to those around me because I wasn’t emotionally available to myself. I was spiritually, physically, and mentally sick. It was not until I struggled in rehab for sobriety that I realized I needed a spiritual awakening, a faith in something to ground me and put me back in my body. I couldn’t get sober by myself for I am not strong enough without faith in something higher than my own self. Especially considering I had such low self-worth and partly wanted to destroy my body, how could I possibly rely exclusively on me to become healthy and stop the abuse of my body?
After a month in rehab I finally got the help by finding a higher power and was able to stop purging. It happened after my brother visited. I had felt so alone and our conversation completely shifted my perspective. He told me that he felt a higher power when he was at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, a visceral connection to everyone around him of unconditional love. I realized that I do believe in that undeniable connection between every single person in this world, and love is of the highest power. The fact that we are all tethered to each other, like sinuous tendons and ligaments all connecting together to form one body, the body of humanity, one giant community. We are all one and that one is my higher power, my God. I can go anywhere and find someone to welcome me even if they don’t know me and that is God, that’s the connection. When I look into the eyes of my loved ones I see God, I see the genuine connection of undeniable love that we have for each other and therein lays a higher power.
Now that I am sober I am able to see my God every day in the interactions between people, the tethers that bind everyone together to form God. Now that I am staying sober I can stay emotionally available and open to these tethers and stay present to those around me, keeping myself open for my tether to stay bound to those around me.