There are two sides to the problem of evil. That is, the logical problem of evil, and the emotional problem of evil.
Maybe I should back up a bit.
By “problem of evil”, I mean, of course, the problem people have reconciling the coexistence of both God and evil in the world.
Maybe I should back up more.
The logical version of this, struggles with purely the logical concept of the coexistence of a good God and the presence of evil. This is well addressed through a variety of logical arguments showing there is no logical contradiction here. This is beyond the scope of this post and more on it can be found here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/the-problem-of-suffering-and-evil-aalborg-university and many other sources. But, the version of this is of a completely (in my opinion) different type. That is the emotional problem. This does not deal with any apparent logical contradiction between the existence of evil and the existence of God on an objective, universal level, but instead is more personal. This is rooted purely in emotion: in hurt, anguish, and pain. Instead of saying “I don’t see how this can be…”, it says “How can this be???”
It is that point when you’re so broken down, so torn down, in so much pain, when you conclude there must be no God because if there was, He wouldn’t let this happen.
I think we’ve all been there.
But I’m not.
Usually the only way to deal with this version of the problem of evil is through counseling and experience. But I would like to suggest that there is a logical way to address this. Either way you boil this down, you are ultimately dealing with an issue of personal belief, because there’s no logical way to justify the position that there is no God in all of existence just because you yourself are having a hard time (to say the least). That’s incredibly narcissistic and you honestly aren’t that special. At most you can conclude that as far as you can determine from your own experience, there is not likely to be a God (because there could be a God, just one who’s punishing you, not looking after you, basically not a good version of God). But, this is ultimately rooted in the problem that you are emotionally and intellectually seemingly incapable of believing in the existence of a good God and this evil going on in your life. Because, let’s face it, if you did still decide to believe in Him despite what’s going on in your life, you wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. So, it stands to reason that if just one person has gone through a terrible circumstance in life and is still able to believe in God, then it stands that God can still exist, and the problem is merely a personal one in which you find it hard or impossible to personally believe in God in your circumstance, but that He really does exist.
So let me tell you my story….
November 2009: marry the woman I love. February 2011: birth of my first son. August 2011: Got a cushy, well-paying government job. December 2011: Graduate with my masters pursuing my dream of an academic career in paleontology. Sound like I had everything going for me? Yes and no. Behind the scenes, my life is miserable. My wife has severe emotional problems and I am practically a single dad despite being married. Every morning I go to work sick to my stomach with worry that my spouse will be able to handle taking care of our son, anticipating one of the week’s several intense emotional crises, and despite my best efforts I can barely keep a decent balance in the bank account and pay all the bills. In the midst of all this, I was getting progressively sicker. Starting really in January I was regularly experiencing intense gut pains that would make normal men want to curl up in the corner and cry, but I still had to take charge of child care every night and weekend. My wife’s demands and instability led me to miss work regularly, and my sickness caused me to miss even more.
April 2012: Missing work catches up with me, and I am let go. Suddenly I have to figure out how to provide for my family. Fortunately, I pull out what retirement money I built up on the job, and I got unemployment insurance when that ran out. Little did I know my troubles were just beginning.
May 2012: I go in for a routine procedure at my gastroenterologist’s office. By the time I get there, I’m experiencing the worst pain yet. I was curled up on a bed, barely able to talk. They admit me to the hospital. The treatment: stick a tube up my nose, down my throat, and into my stomach to pump out the contents and starve me for several days. In the meantime I have to deal with my wife’s constant emotional breakdowns trying to deal with our son all by herself for the first 24/7 time in our marriage. I expend just as much energy calming her down and convincing her to take care of him as I do recovering.
I get out, still in pain but put on a special low-fiber diet. For the most part, I can’t eat much. I was still in pain, though not quite as much. I lost some 15-20 lbs in the hospital.
Within a month, I would go back in. The ironic part of what comes next is my wife and I started a marriage class at our church a week prior. But this night, I was in intense pain again. Unable to straighten up or hardly talk, I’m taken back to the ER. This time, they operate. Everything goes fine. Then, that night, I get a call from my wife.
“I cheated” She cried. She invited some random guy into our house, and slept with him in our bed. The nurse has to give me some sort of muscle relaxant to calm me down. She says she’s sorry and I say we can get past it and move on. I work on forgiving her.
Two days later she comes into the hospital room with hickies covering her neck.
She swears it’s over. We argue, I forgive her, and we try to move on.
After I get out of the hospital, the lies continue. I find text messages, pictures on disposable phones, catch her at his house late at night, messages to other guys on dating sites. Each time she swears up and down, sometimes with tears in her eyes, that it’s over and she won’t do it again. So I ended it, contacted to guy and told him to stay away. Her response? She was furious at me. Then, I catch her going to meet a second guy one night. I contact him and tell him she’s married and he ends it, too.
She comes home, and I tell her I’m filing for divorce.
To make matters worse, while I was in the hospital my former employer takes me to court and sues to remove my unemployment benefits. They succeed, and I’m required to somehow pay back everything they gave me over the prior two months. So now I end up draining my savings while waiting for welfare to kick in and help out with bills.
Did I mention our lease was about to end at the house we were all living in?
Fortunately, God intervened and a good friend of mine stepped in saying they need someone to occupy their rental property before her parents moved in and took over the place next year.
And, during that, I found out my wife was pregnant. The big question became: with who’s baby?
So, I was reading an article on a website I rarely find myself on about why some women might be reluctant to date single dads.
Honestly it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. The thought is quite intimidating. Shortly after my divorce, in fact, I used to get mini-panic attacks at the very thought. The fact that my ex was still living with me and was with six other guys just in the two months it took our divorce to be final didn’t help much, either. Now I can breathe normal at the thought of dating again, but I find myself reluctant. Sure, single parents date quite often nowadays, but I don’t know if it’s for me. Last time I tried my hand at the dating scene, it was college, I had no children, was full of energy and romantic ideas, and had a lot more disposable income (well, the percent of my income that was disposable was a lot higher, anyways….) Things are vastly different then. For one thing, the dating pool is HUGE. You’re practically swimming in single women at that time in your life. Now, it’s more like a trickle. Most of your options were married before and those that made it through to this stage without having been married usually had a good reason for it (“Why, hello there, Amy Farrah Fowler look-a-like…”) Most attractive women I see around me have nice sparkly things on their left hand.
Then there is the time issue. Last time I was single I had a great deal more freedom and availability. Want to go to dinner at the last minute? Sure, no problems there! Now I have a little one to deal with and it’s wait, let me see if I can find a babysitter. No, nevermind, I just spent that money on diapers; I can’t afford one and my nearest family member is X number of hours away. How’s your next Friday? Doesn’t leave a lot of time together, and I’m someone who likes to spend a lot of time with whoever I’m in a relationship with….
Then there’s the issue of having her be around my son. I refuse to bring a string of would-be mother figures into his life only to have them leave again.
Then there’s the other issue of if I can even accept someone’s love again. It’s just not that I got divorced, it’s that I got divorced after a two-and-a-half year abusive marriage after my wife repeatedly cheated on me and lied about it. After something like that, a person tends to seriously doubt their appeal to the opposite gender, and worry about winding up in the same type of relationship again. Since this was my first relationship ever, too, it makes me wonder if I even could get into a normal relationship again.
Then there’s the fact that I can’t just find a good woman, I have to find a good woman who also would be a good mother, which would probably narrow down my search even more.
Honestly, all in all, at this point I’m seriously reconsidering going back to dating ever in the near future. It’s too much to deal with, and I worry too much about how it will affect my son.
After getting through a divorce you inevitably reach a point when you wonder if anyone will ever love you again. Be able to love you again. The ringing of what you perceive to be your greatest romantic failure is still filling your ears. Most people assure you that you will find love again, “You’ll see”… But that ringing deafens you to even the warmest of reassurances. You wonder how if I gave everything I had to someone and it wasn’t enough to keep them, then what I have might not be enough to keep anyone. It’s not one of those casual relationships or minor flings where the person “just didn’t know what they had.” In a marriage, especially when it is failing, you give everything in you, and it’s still not enough to keep them. You wonder if anything in you is enough to keep anyone else.
It’s what I wonder.
Especially in my case. My ex-wife was my first everything. First relationship, first girlfiend, first woman who actually loved me. No other woman had, and the first woman who did ending up being seriously damaged. That makes it worse.
The only woman I’ve ever been able to get turns out to have serious issues. It makes me seriously doubt if there will ever be a “normal” woman who will love me.
And then there’s the disbelief. Right now if some woman told me they loved me I think I’d recoil in disbelief, unable to accept it as possible. Part of me panics at the thought of it.
I’m generally one to point out that it is completely possible to live a fulfilling, satisfied life as a single person, but it’s a little unsettling after a divorce to think maybe that’s your only choice.
I’m still impressed by the frequent bouts of depression that plague me from time to time following my divorce. It’s been almost nine months since the divorce was final, and two months of going through the divorce prior to then. But, despite that length of time, I still deal with a lot of emotional fallout from that. Now, my situation is a bit different because I let my ex live with me for seven months after the divorce was finalized, which caused a great deal of emotional stagnation. So, I’ve only really been separate from her for two months now. Needless to say, this has created a lot of undiscovered country for me and everyone I talk to. Most of the time, even if you have to still deal with your ex because of shared children (which we also have), you are physically and geographically separate from your ex even before the divorce is final. So, while dealing with the normal emotional issues of a divorce, you also have that separation to facilitate that. But, for me, it’s all muddled up.
Part of me is fairly far along in the recovery process, but other parts are still in early stages of the emotional roller coaster of divorce recovery. It’s like I walking back and forth on the path of life picking up parts of me that shattered and were windblown all up and down it.
I was doing some thin sections recently, and in the process I realized the particular brand of glass microscope slides I bought are of poor quality and thus extremely fragile. Almost all of them shattered and required me to glue the shards back together. Some of the pieces were easy to put back together, but some pieces were lost and I had to carve new pieces out of other pieces of glass to make the necessary repairs. Sometimes the glue job was good and pieces fell off again, leading me to re-glue them and modify how I glued it.
Right now, I feel like the glass slides. Parts of me were easy to pick up and glue back on, others are completely lost and I have to create new ones. Sometimes when I feel a piece is glued back on well and taken care of, it will fall back off again and I’ll have to redo it.
Of you’re going through or recovering from a divorce, the fact is you’re going to deal with depression at some point. Even if you’re getting out of a rather miserable, abusive marriage (as I did), you’ll still mourn the good times. Your brain has a nasty tendency of, after getting out of a bad relationship, to suddenly only remember the good times. But, however your marriage was, depression after a divorce can be crippling (speaking from personal experience).
I developed some steps, though, of coping with your depression. These have worked really well for me, at least:
1.) Stand up, and take two big steps. A near constant of any severe depression is that your butt develops a powerful magnetic attraction to a certain recliner, couch, bed, etc. As much as you’ll want to stay there, and think it’ll help, it just helps to keep you depressed. So, standing up and taking two big steps (to get out of range of its magnetic pull) is the first key step. This simple step has helped me tremendously.
2.) Get dressed. Staying in your pj’s all day seems to have a psychological effect of making you be more relaxed and lethargic. Getting dressed makes your brain realize your day is starting and you have stuff to do.
3.) Set smaller goals. Before all this, I was a whirling dervish of productivity. I was addicted to it, and tried to get as much done in a day as possible, and then, the next day, try to get even more done than that. But, when depression sets in, there’s a wall there. You know what I’m talking about. No matter how hard you try, you just CAN’T get the same amount done. So, set smaller goals, and reward yourself for those. Start with just one thing. Like, today you’ll take out the trash, or respond to that one email you’ve been putting off, etc. Then try two goals after you get that down, then three, until you find your limit, and stick with that while you go through your depressive stage. Then, reward yourself somehow for doing that.
4.) Stay active. Even if it’s just walking around the house, or staying on your feet, you have to get over that inertial energy hump.
5.) Find something SIMPLE you can do around the house or work to emotionally revive/refresh you. If the only thing that does that is something that takes a huge amount of time, effort, and money, like bungee jumping, mountain biking, or hitting the clubs all night long, find something else. You may not be able to get yourself to do those things anyway on account of the depression.
All in all, those help you get started. There are other things to do like get counseling, Prozac or something similar, etc, but those are beyond the scope of what I’m writing about.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to think up a general identity or theme to my blog. Thus far it’s been philosophical in nature, but that won’t lend itself to the frequency of posting I would like for it to have, so I need something more. It is called “Letters from Aspergia” for a reason, namely that, as someone with Aspergers, it’s my communique to society about my observations of its own nature.
Since, also, I’m picking up the pieces from my divorce and my life falling apart, I’ve decided to also have this blog be about my journey of recovery from all of that.
I suspect the latter will be more popular than the former. It’s been my observation that society does not appreciate commentary on itself. When I make observations, people tend to take exception to me doing so. Why is confusing to me, since I consider the underlying mechanics to anything to be fascinating, and am not sure why it would be considered offensive. It is my guess that people view this as me oversimplifying them, trying to saying also that they are not really in control of their actions but instead are slave to these unspoken societal rules and trends. I’m uncertain why this would be the case, and consider any lack of understanding or insult the result of intellectual shortsightedness on their part. I’ve noticed this also corresponds with peoples’ dislike for being labeled, which also confuses me. If your behavior and personality correspond to a particular cultural subgroup, then it is that way because of the choice one makes to follow that. And, if you conform to that label, then it applies whether or not you like it and, if you don’t, then it’s your own fault for limiting your behavior and personality so much to the limits of that label.
So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want in a woman since my first attempt at love and marital bliss came crashing down like the Hindenburg. I’ve decided a woman who likes and can discuss sci-fi at length would embody a lot of the characteristics I’m looking for. We’d have a strong common interest, they’d be a geek/nerd, and dumb people rarely take much interest in sci-fi. At least it’s a starting point.
The depression has stalemated. There are set stages to grief, and I’ve been stuck in depression. I find I want to sleep a lot. I must admit that part took me for a bit of a loop. I’ve struggled with depression a lot in my life, though now as much as now.