I think I might need therapy.
by Andrew Nielson
If, like me, you grew up watching Disney movies, you know the irrational fear that lives in my heart: that everyone I love is suddenly going to disappear. In every Disney movie there's a character who has been displaced and who has been thrown out of their comfort zone, often because of their parents leaving them. There's Bambi and Todd, whose mothers get shot (and their dads are like, YO, we're men, our sperm don't mean SHET, SEE YA). Aladdin is an orphan. Cinderella is kind of an orphan. And Lindsay Lohan looks like an orphan. And so from an early age we've come to live life with this constant fear that suddenly our only sense of stability in life is going to disappear and we'll be left in this void where we don't belong to anyone.
If, like me, you grew up going to church and reading the Left Behind series, you know the irrational fear that lives in my heart: that everyone I love is suddenly going to disappear. And if, like me, you obsessed over being perfect and pure and "worthy," you probably experienced a moment similar to this in your lifetime.
I had woken up early, around 9am—earlier than was normal for a teenager who measured his life in afternoon naps and lazy Saturdays. It was a sunny morning, and I think the sun woke me up. Anyway, I woke up, and I just felt off. Immediately.
I went to my parents room. Empty. The bed wasn't made. My mom's pajamas were sitting on the chair—can you believe it? I don't think I've ever even seen her clothes detached from her body, that's how neat of a person she is. And how non-creepy my family is.
Then I checked my brother's room. He wasn't there, but his Remington was still hanging on a shelf—a good sign. No one had broken in and used the only weapon in our house against us. Unless they used a kitchen knife. Oh crap. A knife! A KNIFE. My mom cooks a lot! Totally reasonable that someone could have butchered my family with a butcher knife!
So I go to the kitchen. Nope. No bloody massacre scene. Thankfully.
Garage? No dice. And all the cars are there, so they haven't snuck off to Kohl's to use the 20% off coupon without me. (Need them new white sneaks and some ill-fitting jeans plz!)
I called my dad. No answer.
My brother. No answer.
My mom doesn't own a cell phone so…SHE'S USELESS TO ME RIGHT NOW. [Ed. note: Mom, please buy an iPhone].
And so I just sat down on the couch. And I'm sitting there. And I'm thinking, and I'm thinking, and I'm thinking. And then my heart sinks faster than the time I chewed aspartame-infused gum for the first time and had to face my mother with tears in my eyes and confess my sugar-free sin to her. Because I know what has happened.
I've missed the rapture. I've missed it. My greatest fear in life has come true.
My parents and my brothers and sisters are having a party with Jesus and all the Christian/saved celebs that I've always wanted to meet and I'm all alone. My grandmother is probably making them some great stuffing or cookies or something. I am UNDONE. I am ENRAGED. I am CRYING at the unfairness of it all.
I spent my whole life up until that moment going to church and asking God to forgive me for not praying enough and for not reading my Bible enough and for crucifying those worms that one time. It was once. It was only one time...one worm. And I still missed the rapture? I missed the rapture. How hard is it to get into heaven? By how many prayers did I miss the rapture quota?
Of course, we all know that my fears were unfounded. There had been no rapture. But there had been a heavy wind the night before that blew an obscene number of leaves onto our front lawn, and my yard-obsessed parents were up with the dawn to rake up the leaves and had somehow—somehow—dragged my brother into helping them work. He was always the outdoorsy type, damn him.
I immediately felt stupid. I immediately felt guilty. I not-so-immediately realized that this was a symptom of a larger fear within myself: not the fear that I would be abandoned, but the fear that I deserved to be abandoned because I was not worthy, a lie told to me by a church that thought they were teaching me a positive lesson.
I never told my parents this story—I did once come out to them as the Antichrist, which weirdly seemed like an easier admission—but I'm telling it now to the world. Funny how telling your most intimate, painful moments to the world are much easier than telling them to the people who love you more than anything.
Friends: you are worthy and you are loved—by more people than you will ever know.
Live your life accordingly and love people in return.
P.S. They DID sneak off and use that Kohl's coupon. Potential future love interests that might be stalking me to prepare for our first date: bring me a Kohl's coupon and I'll know you're on the up-and-up.
P.P.S. I'm not really the Antichrist!!!!!
P.P.P.S. That's exactly what the real Antichrist would say.
Andrew Nielson is a 23 year old silver fox gray haired twenty-something living in New York City. Actor, singer, cellist, creator, funny tall guy. For more about Andrew and his antics, check out his website at www.andrewnielson.com.