The other day I was driving home and I started getting this nervous, sinking feeling in my stomach. Sort of like that dooming feeling you get before something really bad happens and it’s just your gut telling you to prepare for it in the only way it knows how.
My heart began to pound and my palms began to sweat and I had to take really deep breaths to try and ignore the feeling. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this while driving before. I tend to think that it means I’m going to get in an accident of some kind, and not a minor one.
But when this happens, I always find myself referring back to the one thing I’ve done since I was little whenever I felt scared. I began to pray.
Here’s the thing with me and my religion: I’m not entirely religious; at least not as much as my grandma wants me to be. I grew up Catholic. When our church was a block away, we would go every Sunday. I grew up with my grandma telling me prayers to keep the evil spirits away as I slept during the night, and my grandpa performing the sign of the cross to me whenever I went to school in the morning, went to bed, and sometimes even when I woke up in the mornings. I went to a Catholic school for two years in elementary school- I don’t need to tell you just how religious they were over there or how many prayers I needed to memorize. I only remember two of them now and their translations in Spanish.
So you can see I grew up pretty influenced by my grandparents on religion and faith. But lately I’ve been asking myself if I only believe in there being a higher power because it’s what I grew up knowing, or if I believe in it because I truly believe.
A controversial topic, I know.
I feel guilty whenever I’m walking around school and the church solicitors come to talk to me about God because I always make up some kind of lie to get away and keep on walking. But at the same time, sometimes I don’t care to talk about my faith or their faith or whatever faith they’re trying to get me to believe.
I like to believe that there is a place after death that we all go to. But I’m constantly using God’s name in vain and I could really care less if that’s a strike against me.
I pray when I’m scared or when I want someone else to get through the troubles they are going through. But sometimes I think people deserve the karma that comes back to them (never death, obviously). I don’t always think that it’s caused by the hand of God, but just some kind of force of universal balance.
I pray because it’s practically the only way I know how to calm my nerves and fears about the possible terrible outcome.
I started getting panic attacks when I was about eleven. It was rare and often times at night before I went to bed. The last major attack I had was last semester. I know that these episodes while I’m driving are just that: random, mild panic attacks that just seem worse because they happen while I’m driving.
But it brought up this whole thought about what I really believe in because it’s always my default.
So I guess that’s something I’m going to be discovering about myself this year.