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Enough

by Marc Peraino 8 months ago in healing
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A Return-of-Saturn story

It was when I finally said, "Enough."

I was finishing my bachelor's degree and had just turned 29. After a nearly ten-year-long battle with mental health issues, I was, at last, getting on with my life, or so it seemed. I was eager to leave behind my struggles with mental illness and just live. And I'd made so much progress already. The fact that I was finishing my degree was evidence of that.

In spite of this progress though, I found myself once again skirting the edge of depression around the time of my Return of Saturn in Sagittarius, a time of reckoning and decision-making. But I was also finally beginning to see that this illness wasn't just an organic chemical imbalance. Nor was it solely a response to past traumas. No. This illness was also intricately connected with my continued attempts to run away from what I knew was my truth, that immutable kind of truth: I'm gay and always have been.

Throughout my twenties, I relinquished so much of my own power over to the Church, which included the pastors and fellow church-goers I viewed as "better" than me. I was desperate to belong. Desperate for a community that would accept me unconditionally. A place to be loved. All of those human needs we have. I'd been born and raised in the Church, and they always advertise themselves as a kind of "home" or "family," so of course I stuck around far longer than I should have.

The Church really had no place for me though. At least, not the churches I tried to join, churches I thought were home but were really just closets within closets. After ten years of pretending to be straight and all things heteronormative, I could hear my own self calling out in a panic. It was a cry to not go back to that life of depression. It was a call to say no, once and for all, to the loneliness and psychic death the Church imposes upon men and women like me.

After being born and raised in the Lutheran Church (LCMS), I wandered from one church to the next in search of a spiritual home I could call my own. Spirituality has always been crucial to me, a source of power and inspiration. I tried Baptist, Antiochian Orthodox, Episcopalian, Charismatic, Evangelical, and finally Anglican. None of them had a place for me.

It was the Anglican Church that pushed me to the breaking point, and for that I'm incredibly grateful. I'd opened my heart and soul to this church, but homophobia was responding with, "Let's put that all away, lock the door, and throw away the key." It was time for me to answer back.

My pastor was deeply saddened, confused, and angry when I finally told him my truth. I mean, it's not hard to imagine why, considering he believed gay identities don't even exist. "It's just sin," he would state confidently. There was no more pretending. Not to myself and certainly not to God. There was so much I wanted to say at the time, but couldn't. My strength in that moment was focused upon saying just one thing: I am absolutely gay and I will never be hetero or normal, ever.

I walked away from that conversation shaken, but ultimately freed. I had passed the test that Saturn had brought upon his return. I was free from a church, and a life, that would've had me stay exactly as I was, psychologically frozen, never to grow beyond the scared, closeted teenager I'd always been. To live celibate. To never marry. To be forever unsatisfied as those around me live in fullness. The Church is very comfortable with tortured gays. As long as they suffer for their sinful lives, we don't really have to think about our own.

Over the months that followed, the fear and anxiety of leaving the Church slowly dissipated and I timidly began to step out and enjoy my newfound life. I knew instinctively that the decision I'd made would prove to be the key for overcoming my chronic mental dis-ease. And I was right.

With the help and support of a therapist, and new friends who accepted me as I am, I began to replace anxiety and depression with feelings of joy, love, and life. I began to grow and develop, mentally and emotionally, into a real adult, the way people are meant to grow. It was like a second adolescence, but of the heart and mind. I've experienced healing I didn't think was possible.

The road my church condemned as a "wide road to death," was really my own narrow road leading to my own life. This was a resurrection, one that would never have happened had I not told the church, "Enough."

healing

About the author

Marc Peraino

Short fiction and poetry author in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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