02 March 2013

Why Me?

I have been told that many in my situation ask in desperation, “Why Me?” With this present illness and with my former one, I never directly asked this question. Although, with my former illness, I indirectly implied this question by living in a delusional world that rejected the pain of reality. That’s probably why I was able to cope for so long, went so long without being diagnosed, and why I’m still here today.

Due to my mathematical and logical way of thinking, combined with an almost unbearable compassion for others, I’ve often said that it was a very good thing that I have schizophrenia because 1 in 100 people have it, and if I didn’t have it, some other person in my group of 100 would have it, and he or she may not have been able to handle it as well. This, of course, was after I was hospitalized and began to actually handle it and became aware of this statistic. (I believe schizoaffective disorder would fall into this statistic. They did have me reading a lot of literature on schizophrenia.)

Of  course, the above statement reveals some pride and even a bit of arrogance. Who’s to say I handled it better than that other person in my group of 100 could? Does that, in some way, make me superior than those that don’t handle it as well? I try to keep a check on such judgments, but when examining my motives, they’re not always pure. (Have I mention I try to go to Confession once a week when possible? An examination of conscience before bed, such as during Compline, is also a great help; but I admit, when you’re really tired, it’s sometimes a bit too much to do.)

As to an almost unbearable compassion for others, living in a delusional world can help alleviate that. Self-centredness can also help a great deal. Blaming others for all your problems and not taking any responsibility for them yourself can also be a very good way to ignore the pain of other persons. (I originally just typed “others,” but I really wanted to put the word “persons” there.)

Another question that has been asked is, “Why did this happen to you?” The scientific answer is a mystery to us right now. I’ve always been more or less health conscience. I only ingested harmful substances for around a four year period, and almost everything I inhaled was in the last half of that four years. I exercised quite regularly, even climbing 12 floors of stairs everyday up to the office for a few years. My anti-psychotic and and anti-depression medication was probably not all that healthy, but it was a lot better than the alternative, which is statistically around as fatal as the type of cancer I have right now.

Since we really don’t know, I like to blame my cell phone. There may be some merit in studying the relationship between cell phones and other electromagnetic technology, and some types of cancer, but in my case, it really doesn’t matter what the cause is, as long as we just blame something. My cell phone seems like a good thing to blame. I’ve only had it for less than a year and a half (I held off for as long as I could), it’s only been turned on in emergencies (although, I made a few exceptions the last six months), and it spends almost all its time in the glove compartment of my car. Doesn’t that seem like the perfect thing to blame? (Did I mention that I likely had this cancer for five or six years without knowing it?)

This may be a bit humorous and provide a little bit of distraction to the one asking the question, but it really doesn’t provide much comfort. Really, I just try to cope with my almost unbearable compassion for others by resorting to humour. There’s not really anything else to do that I can think of. A little sermon on faith, hope and love just wouldn’t be appropriate at that time. Hugs work the best.

I’ve heard that some people become angry with God and ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” A number of years ago, I wouldn’t have asked this question because I would have assumed the answer was just punishment. But I know better now. I find myself, however, asking this question a great deal lately, but along with it, I drop to my knees and say, “Get away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

I did have the audacity to ask a great favour from God a few years ago. I asked Him to allow me to suffer my purgatory on earth through a long painful illness before I die. I wasn’t thinking of beginning the illness so soon. Actually, I may have already had the illness before I asked for it, I just didn’t know it. I’m not really concerned about my present occurrence, I’ll likely have a few relapses before this kills me.

I really hope treatment continues to improve a great deal with every relapse because I’d really like it if God holds off for a very long time on the other favour I asked him. I asked that I never make my ex-wife/fiancée a widow. I’ve caused her to cry more than enough, I’d really like to prevent her from shedding anymore tears of pain than absolutely necessary. I’d also like to fulfil my dream I’ve been telling her about for years: I’d like to be that white haired couple walking in the park holding hands who make all the young couples (the women anyway) say, “Aww, isn’t that cute? I want to be just like that when we’re that age.” I haven’t mentioned this dream in four months, but she brought it up a couple days ago. When she started crying, I would have lost it if it wasn’t for the fact that it would upset her even more. It’s times like that when humour just won’t soften the statistics. I just kept my mouth shut, held her, and concentrated on not getting too emotional.

Aside from all the pain this is causing others, everything else is unbelievably wonderful, especially if I have enough relapses to fulfil the above dream. So what did I do to deserve this? Nothing! I am completely unworthy of such a great grace. I have so much, and deserve none of it. Imagine, Christ is allowing me to join my suffering with His. “Get away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Many, many of the things I’ve done do not reflect the image of God that I truly am. I’m really struggling with this right now. If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you woke up to see a bunch of nonsense of mine on your news feed, but it really was not nonsense. It was a somewhat hidden admission of guilt while trying not to scandalize too many. (I wonder if the Archbishop has me disabled from his news feed? Probably.) I have some Facebook friends that I went to high school with that would know exactly what I was talking about. However, I also have a number of Facebook friends that didn’t know me until I started growing my hair again for the second time that probably had no idea how much I had denied who I really am by some of the stuff I’ve done.

I think my daughters would fit into this last category even though they’re not on Facebook. I’m not sure what they’ll think when they find this, but it may explain some of the knowledge I have on some subjects. If they had gone to high school with me, they would have had nothing to do with me unless they saw a legitimate opportunity to help me, which there likely wouldn’t have been. Fortunately, I started to get it together before their mother really knew me, otherwise, they wouldn’t have been conceived.

Actually, I’ve found out that many of the people I went to high school with had no idea what kind of person I was, or was trying to portray, unless they happen to be at a few particular parties. All they experienced was a great deal of goofiness in the hallways.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you have my grade 12 yearbook, despite what everybody thought, I was very serious about the ambition I wrote down, and it really was no laughing matter. If you’re not quite sure how to interpret it, forget about the music and think about the date that always follows the birthday of all the people I mentioned. It was rather an odd feeling when I was at a planning meeting for our 10 year high school reunion and we were all laughing about what I wrote, particularly since I was just building up to a psychotic break that came just after that reunion.

So there you have it. I don’t think I have to go into anymore details. It is totally obvious that I am completely unworthy to add any of my suffering to Christ’s, but He’s allowing me to anyway.

We’re all unworthy. Some may seem more unworthy than others, but when we’re compared to the true standard of worthiness, the differences between the rest of us are so small that they’re immeasurable.
Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

(Repeat 3 times while striking your breast.)
Or, if you prefer Latin:
Domine, non sum dignus,
ut intres sub tectum meum:
sed tantum dic verbo,
et sanábitur ánima mea.

(If you prefer Latin, I assume you know how many times and where to strike.)
I love Lauds on Fridays. And, I would have liked to experience Allegri's Miserere mei, Deus in the Sistine Chapel for the Tenebrae service on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week in 1770. The 14 year old Mozart happen to be there those two days. (That was also the year Beethoven was born. Funny how some dates just stick in your head. I've got no idea when any other composer was born.)
Ant. 1 A humble, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

Psalm 51
Miserere mei, Deus
O God, have mercy on me

Your inmost being must be renewed, and you must put on the new man (Ephesians 4:23-24).

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. *
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt *
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offenses truly I know them; *
my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; *
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence *
and be without reproach when you judge.
O see, in guilt I was born, *
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart; *
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean; *
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, *
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face *
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God, *
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, *
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help; *
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways *
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper, *
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips *
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

For in sacrifice you take no delight, *
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.*
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

In your goodness, show favor to Zion: *
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, *
Holocausts offered on your altar.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, *
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, *
and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. A humble, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.”