I think I might be experiencing something I can only describe as "call drop."
I'm not talking about poor cell phone reception, I'm talking about the hangover from the euphoria that comes with a revelation, or the call experience I had this weekend.
In the world of bd/sm and power exchange play between dominants and submissives, the sub will often experience a thing called "sub drop" in the day or days following an intense scene. It is sort of like an endorphin hangover, when the brain has to adjust its chemistry to the typical levels that generally get us through our day.
Those chemicals can play hell with the emotions.
That's sort of what I am feeling today.
Sunday's experience was intense and euphoric. It seemed that suddenly a lot of things that had previously been confusing suddenly aligned themselves and came sharply into focus. Aha! I said. NOW I know what to do! And happy chemicals burst forth in my brain.
And Monday and Tuesday, and into Wednesday, that euphoria stayed and I rode it like a wave of happiness. I learned a lot about what lays in front of me, and it's not going to be easy, and I understand that, but the chemicals in my brain made it all OK. I was riding high. I'd figure it out. A way would open and I would be OK.
Today I woke up without the happy chemicals in my brain. Today I woke up with an unsettled feeling about what I might be in for, and it's more than a little bit scary.
I told a friend the news - that I plan to apply to seminary - and that got me a little jolt of the happy juice, but not like the past few days. Not the kind of stuff that made it all manageable.
Ministry is looming large now. Large and scary and intimidating. Like "oh shit, what have I done?" large. Like "why did I have to tell everybody already?" large. Like "oh, god, I hope I can do this" large.
I suppose this all makes sense. I suppose the chemistry explains a great deal and that this is normal, but it is still unnerving.
What have I done? Can I do this? Do I have a choice? It doesn't seem like I do. This thing sits in my lap and won't go away. I know in my gut and my soul and my heart that this is what is meant to be for me, but suddenly it is too big, too scary, too risky, too ... everything.
I'm looking at three years of classroom time, full-time, and a full year of internship somewhere. Tuition is expensive. Housing's gotta be paid somehow. I'm scared. It took me forever to get my four year degree in general trivia, and I have student loans that I can't pay now. Is it even responsible for me to consider such an undertaking?
I have judged people in the past who make what I consider to be foolhardy or irresponsible decisions based on their faith (the Duggars' own personal baby boom, for instance). What makes this decision any different than theirs? I don't know. It is something that is inside me, something that seems to be demanding my attention in a very particular way, something that can be neither ignored nor denied.
So what the hell am I supposed to do now?
Tuesday I got a packet in the mail. It was from AAA, and I was disappointed.
Yesterday I got a packet in the mail from the divinity school of my choice. I have not opened it yet.
I am afraid, as though once I open it, there will be no going back, that I will be locked into something bigger than I can handle, something that requires more brains and money than I've got, something that will require me to learn to be nice and kind to people when I really don't want to.
I am afraid that I will fail.
That's the crux of it. I am afraid that I will fail, nearly to the point where I am paralyzed and unable to make an attempt.
Why do I fear failure? Shame, most likely. I fear being ashamed, being held up as an example of how to fuck things up. I fear being less than. I fear not measuring up. That is the root of my fears, generally; my own insecurity drives them. Can someone this insecure, this scared, be an effective minister? Oh, I can talk a lot of noise and bullshit, but really, when it comes down to brass tacks, can I do what a minister needs to do? Can I treat everyone with dignity? Can I treat everyone with kindness, even when they attack? Can I hold my tongue when morons speak? Can I curb my sarcasm and see the hurt that drives people to make inelegant decisions and statements?
This is too much. I don't know what to do.
The lid is off the jar, it's open and there's no sealing it back up. But now what do I do? I am so scared. This is crazy. No wonder so many ministers seem to be solitary souls. This kind of turmoil is not something too many sane people could hang out with for long. What the hell?
*** Time break of about 1 hour ***
I opened it.
It is scary, but not overwhelmingly so.
There was a nice letter, addressed to me, and signed in real ink by a real person, and while I am sure it is the standard boiler-plate letter they send to everyone who gets an information packet, I liked that they spelled my name correctly and that it carried a real signature and not a computer-generated one.
There were some brochures, nice, clean, simple. Nothing too flashy. I like that. A couple were sort of glossy, but in a non-offensive way. The catalog was good. I got to look at the professors who teach at the school and their credentials, and then a list of classes that are required and offered. I have to say that the classes really looked fascinating. The Old Testament and New Testament ones are intimidating, but the rest looked pretty cool.
There is a number to call to set up an appointment to come tour the campus. I called and spoke to the nice woman who sent me the packet. I told her that I'd like to come see the campus, that I would like to schedule that tour for the last week of February and I'd like to meet with an Admissions person, a Financial Aid person, and a UU student presently studying there. (The Bangor Theological Seminary is a United Church of Christ institution. That means they are Christian, and Unitarian Universalists are not Christian by definition and edict. I want to know what it is like for a non-Christian to study ministry at a Christian Seminary.)
She said she'd set it up and rattled off my phone number to confirm that she had it right from the last time we spoke (again, nice touch) and said she'd get back to me with a date and a schedule for my tour.
I am fighting a kind of panic that seems to be rising in my throat. I am scared. I am so scared. I have no idea if I can do this. So far, all I have committed to is taking a day of my life and driving to Bangor to meet some people and ask some questions. My head is swimming with the details of it all now. What about housing? I need an apartment closer to Bangor. Someplace I can have Kitten and Quinn with me. I wonder if I would qualify for low-income housing? I'm certainly in the low-income range. I'm not nuts about living in Bangor, but that would be closest. I wonder if I can get a job so I can pay my rent while I go to school? I wonder if I'll have time to work with classes and all. I'd like to stay near Ellsworth so I can still come to the church I just joined and where I feel a real sense of belonging. I'm scared. Maybe a mindless job where I don't have to think or anything, so I can just pay some bills and not tax my brain, because I'll need it for all that reading. Oh god. Oh crap. Why couldn't this happen to somebody else? What the hell makes me so special that this thing landed on me? Why not Andrew, the guy sitting next to me in church on Sunday? I could support him through this. Glad to do it. Is it possible that the universe missed? I doubt it. I bet Andrew doubts it, too. And I was sitting on the aisle. There was nobody on my other side that might have been the correct target. It is me, I guess. But why? What the hell have I got to offer? (That is rhetorical, folks, I'm not trolling for affirmation.)
The line popped into my head today "Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
That's Step 12.
Was that call experience the spiritual awakening I have read about in the literature and heard about in meetings? I don't think so. That was more thunderbolt stuff than the (usually) gradual awakening that happens to people who work the steps. If you work those steps, you will have a spiritual awakening. It may or may not be a call like I felt, but there will be a spiritual awakening.
I don't know what's happening to me. It's scary. It is disorienting. It is confusing. It is overwhelming.
I pray again today for knowledge of god's will for me today and the power to carry it out.
Blessed be. Amen.