Mental Health

The Morning After; Anxiety Examined


Holy Saturday morning. A Recovering Catholic woman reflects on her Good Friday night drunken panic attack in the midst of a masculine dominated poker game. Waking up, deep breaths, pulling myself together.

My first thought is how every person present was understanding and kind knowing I was face down huddled on my best friends’ apartment balcony, clutching the dirty concrete for fear all my atoms would come apart. Even from strangers, there was empathy and concern for my well-being.

On Good Friday, timelines become hazy. Flashbacks to solemn churches, black lace covering my hair, and the reminder of the unimaginable torture required as payment for my own sins. The desire to be holy overshadowing any other concerns. Hours and hours late at night, hiding in the closet to pray and write while everyone else was asleep.

The teenager fasted, drinking only water for the full 24 hours of Good Friday. The little girl late at night secretly taking a vow of chastity as an offering to God in the filthy, blasphemous Culture of Death Pope John Paul II regularly lamented. The eventual family tradition of altogether watching The Passion of the Christ as a religious practice at home after church. Sobbing uncontrollably watching Christ being ground to a pulp for my own offenses.

I’ve come so far from those times but the legendary Catholic Guilt lives on in me, though weakened and faded. It seems now is the time to observe it and know that it can never break me. There is still fear that my feelings will be too unbearable. I think of sugar dissolving in water. But I am not sugar. I am bone and gore. I will not be undone.

I weep.

Sometimes the wildest tears purge and cleanse the ancient raw wounds.

I struggle with explaining the intensity and specificity of religious trauma. But we all collect our own traumas one way or another. Thus, there was understanding at the Good Friday poker night. The frustration of a mind turning against itself. Understood.

I will turn 30 in a few months. Above all else, I am proud that my children will never understand my memories. They won’t know these feelings that still tag along like dog shit on my shoe. I see the person I am becoming. I see the women and girls I once was but have mostly left behind. There have been changes and transformations and therapy, and therapy, and therapy. I have developed coping skills. Self injury and bulimia have been abandoned. I am proud of how I have blundered, stumbled, and crawled to a better life.

But on Good Friday, the past breaks a window and climbs through and we play rover red rover, come on over! For a moment, I am tumbling like Alice, head over heels with my dress spread out against the bright green churchyard grass.

I remember, but I am no longer that girl. For that, I am grateful. Hallelujah. Let us sing praises for the parts of myself that have died so I could live anew. I make my own meanings now. Hallelujah.



Author: Simona Marie

Email: witchhymn@gmail.com

Author Bio: Simona Marie is a single mom, queer witch and Tarot reader. She nerds out over yarn, words, music, books, and making things with her hands. Follow her @WitchHymn on Instagram and at witchhymn.com


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