Throughout my 20s, I thought I was independent in that I was living on my own and supporting myself. When it came to morality and beliefs, though, I didn’t like to think about it much, because it shined a light on my weaknesses and vices. So I would just go with the flow of those around me. Well, there’s a scary problem with that:

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”― G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

I was raised Catholic but didn’t learn enough about it to defend it. So, like a poorly rooted tree, I was knocked right over when I left the shelter of home to go to college. I began to disagree with one teaching of the faith, and then another, and then another, like dominoes. The problem is, I barely had a grasp on the Bible or even what the teachings were! What little I read I ignorantly treated purely as a scientific book, and I didn’t actually dig into how the Church interpreted certain verses and why it taught what it taught.

I was letting others tell me about Catholicism who knew just as little as I did. I used the Church’s sexual abuse scandal as an excuse to abandon my entire belief system. Of course those abuses were wrong and terrible, yes, but those actions are not what the faith teaches. While the Church is trying to move towards perfection, it isn’t there yet.

The Church was never meant to take a pristine, easy path to perfection. If it was, why would Jesus have picked Judas Iscariot, the traitor, as one of his twelve apostles? At the time though, my already weak faith was fractured when I witnessed sin infiltrate the Church’s leadership.

So over the course of eight years, my faith began to wither away, and I gradually danced closer and closer to the devil. I…

  • Blindingly chased independence to the point of driving myself away from loved ones.
  • Embraced being busy so much that I started to become proud of it and didn’t make time for family and friends.
  • Tried to find “love” at college parties and clubs. If I went home with someone, I still felt empty after the high wore off. If I didn’t find someone, I’d visit adult websites.
  • Got drunk all the time. I would even take a few shots alone before going out because I was uncomfortable socializing sober.
  • Took recreational drugs when the alcohol wasn’t enough to help me forget about my problems.
  • Held grudges against those who have hurt me, while making excuses for why I had hurt others.
  • Bought way more material things than I needed to distract myself and to impress others.
  • Been easily angered and overreactive when made fun of or criticized.
  • Stolen physical or digital things or damaged others’ property with no regard for the owner.
  • Been afraid of being wrong or seen as stupid, learning purely for the sake of being seen as smart.

While I wasn’t exclusively doing these things nor doing them all at the same time, they were beginning to shape my behavior and personality. My heart was being infiltrated, quietly and gradually. Yet I felt that I fit in among my fellow millenials, “living it up” in the real world and “just trying to have fun.” Those around me more or less seemed to be doing the same things and that created peer pressure, but it was more of an interior peer pressure that I put on myself to be like my peers, tolerant of anything, and just “going with the flow.”

I began to feel like two people. There was “party me” you’d find on the weekends and there was “regular me” you’d find working my stable job and being somewhat responsible. So who was I? “Party me” was becoming so much of my life that it was taking over. It all came to a head one summer.