I lost my faith in London summer 2012. It was a heady time. I would be gone for 6 full weeks and visiting my brother’s family during the Olympics. On a whim I went to an astrologer who informed me to send my book out again to publishers on June 28th. Every psychic I ever spent money on (never more than $35 though) told me I was going to be a famous writer and married soon; both of which had yet to come to fruition even if I continue to be ambivalent about domesticity. So I had great faith in a positive outcome.
Then my sister-in-law’s wifi went down the morning of the 28th. I ran to the Starbucks near Kensington station to send my book early enough so New York would have it by the time they entered the office. It was a repeat of two Christmases ago when I sat in my studio apartment sending off my queries for a festive thirty-six hours. A flood of no’s deluged my inbox despite the holiday. It was not the best way to spend an already lonely Christmas. Still, I had responses and even met with a third tier publisher in person whose only advice was to build a social media following.
Fast forward a year and a half later I sat at that table until the tourists morphed into new people each time I looked up from my own little literary world. I was desperate for good news and on edge from the anticipation. Someone had to say yes I thought, please just say yes or I’d take a perhaps. That night we went to see my youngest niece in a play when I received a phone call. A few days before leaving the country I went to see a specialist about a patch of hair that was thinning out more than the rest of my scalp. Thinking this was my big break I rushed outside only to find out the test results from my blood work were back; I had the Irish curse which means my liver produces way too much iron enough to make me sick and disrupt other levels in my body. This translates into being a lightweight who should also not consume red meat on the regular. It went deeper than that as well. My mother died of liver cancer and suddenly my near constant fear of death was facing me. I was certain I would develop cancer. That night I felt the world was indifferent to me. I walked my brother’s dog on a loop until my tears stopped and she was tired of barking at nothing.
There was no response from my book. None. On top of bad medical news I was now facing rejection on a book I had spent the majority of five years working on. My life’s work was invalidated and I had nothing to comfort me. I, at that point, did not even feel that I had my health. So I went to the museums around my brother’s house and went to the Natural History Museum where they had a gemstone exhibition. I had never considered that there was not a God, but looking at the void of it in a museum was compelling. My doubt turned into a full-blown panic. In one moment I gave up the hope in the face of so much failure.
I had always been a believer and even had an angel character tattooed on my hip that my Mandarin instructor laughed at because it translated into gibberish. Not believing was unnatural to me. Surely if there was a God he/she/it would have cut me some slack by now. Then I walked through a graveyard in Earl’s Court and this just screamed, “Maureen you are walking worm food, all that faith was for nothing. You wasted five years of your life, but then again you weren’t doing anything better.” It was a bitter pill to swallow and I wondered through the graves noticing shorter mounds of dirt indicating infants. The world was so cruel not to teach us lessons, but because no one was behind the wheel. There was no paid employee to make sure we were on track or even getting service.
I had gone atheist though it never felt comfortable. Other atheists raced towards me and most conversations I had revolved around the abyss that awaited us. My nerves were shot to hell and everything seemed pointless. It was not a good time, but I pushed away any form of faith or prayer. Acceptance of the uncertainty would be best and I stopped meditating though I had been spotty at it for years. Angels and crystals around my house became decorative. Faith was a word I tried to avoid and I felt just pensive.
Nearly a year later, I asked for and received a definitive sign that could not be explained away by science. I asked outsiders to explain and all I got was “weird”. It made me feel better because I had come to a place of quiet in my mind. I was not longer desperate for faith which is why it finally came to me. My book was not as good as it could have been and I sent it to a paid editor who ripped it apart much to my delight. I became a better writer from the experience and saw where I was making mistakes. Rejection is part of being a writer and the trick is in the betterment of yourself, not the validation from others. Faith comes when we start taking responsibility for ourselves.