by Tamara Schmerse
Part 6 of 17.
I was miserable. A large part of me was desperately hoping to find anything at all that I could use to support my belief in God. A lightening bolt, a drop of rain, a butterfly; anything that I could use to say
“that was a sign! That was God showing me He is real!”
I sat in that room for 24 hours. Nothing came.
I remember running a bath and laying in it crying until the water became cold. I felt a number of emotions, not the least of which was embarrassment at letting myself be sucked in by lies for almost ten years of my life. I began remembering all the times over the years that I thought I had witnessed miracles. If I tried hard enough, I could explain every single one of them away.
It was obvious to me at that point: There was no God. There was nothing.
We really were just evolved green slime that became nothing when it died. There was no reason to try to be good in life. There was no reason at all in life. Nothing made sense anymore, and nothing mattered. It was all just nothing.
I discovered my newfound beliefs were shared by many in the Brisbane metal scene. I threw myself into it and continued writing songs, though my lyrics now were from an entirely different angle. There was a lot of pain in those words. I remember one song began with
“I know You’re out there / I know that You can hear me / Why are You hiding / Why do You do this to me”
– I still used a capital “Y” when I wrote it, but before I even finished writing it I was convinced that there was no “You” up there at all. Another of my songs began with the lines
“I would rather die and go to Hell right now / Just to know that Hell exists / Than spend one more day inside this empty shell / Of living out of nothingness”.
It was during this dark, empty time in my life, when I met the man who would become my husband.
As our eyes met across a crowd outside of a popular metal club, I felt something strange and strong stir inside me. I knew in that instant I would follow this man to hell and back. And that was all before we had even spoken our first words to each other.
Casey turned out to be a singer in a metal band. We talked about our ideas and opinions on a number of things, and religion was one of them. We both agreed that there was no such thing as God. We both hated the Christian Church and the lies that it imposed on our country. During that first night, as we were walking through the crowded mall, we passed a rather portly young man standing on a milk crate, preaching the Word of God at the top of his lungs to anyone that would listen. Casey and I both screwed up our faces and rolled our eyes at him. When he stopped for a second to draw breath, Casey took the opportunity to yell out
“Gluttony is a sin too you know!”
I laughed and grabbed his hand and ran away from the scene, but his words rang true in my mind: this young preacher was obviously a slave to his stomach, there was no glandular problem that could explain away that girth. And that made him just another example of Christians preaching one thing and practising another. I could not trust a single one of them.
Soon after this I purchased a house to bring my parents up from the Outback to live in with me. I had found a nice little house with a granny flat out the back, which was perfect as I would be close enough to look after my parents, yet I would still have my own space and privacy. And so as soon as I picked up the keys, Casey helped me to paint the inside walls of my granny flat black, with red doors. We hung posters of Motley Crue and Marilyn Manson, and kept one wall in the bedroom blank so I could use it as a chalk board to scribble my dark, depressing lyrics on. It was a Metalhead’s dream den of gloom. Needless to say, my parents hated it and very rarely set foot in my end of the house.
Looking back, my parents must have received a shock when they saw what they were moving in with. The last time they had come up to Queensland to see me, I was sporting bleached hair, tanned skin and a miniskirt. Now it was black hair, white skin, and black leather and chains. They must have thought I had regressed back through my teenage years. Either way, their concern was setting up their new house, finding their way around their new suburb, and dealing with my mother’s cancer treatment. They met Casey and simply accepted him because they had no choice – he was the only person apart from me that they knew in Queensland.
And so my life of misery and metal continued until one night in February 2008 when I suddenly became ill. I ended up in the hospital, and it was enough of a shock to make me sit up and think hard about what I was doing with my life. I decided to leave the band I was in and try to curb the late nights and heavy schedule. I endured a sling of doctors and specialists trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was very sick and very scared, and felt very empty as I did not even have a God to pray to during my times of pain.
A few months of this and I decided that I needed to change my whole life. I think I blamed the metal scene for my illness. The first thing I did was change my Myspace page – from black with skulls and a Trivium song, I changed it to a pink pattern and put up a Frank Sinatra song. I remember one of our Metalhead friends, who calls himself Demon, writing on my page
”Your page scares me now! But if it makes you feel better, then more power to ya!”
I have never forgotten Demon’s kind words, especially as many of my other scene friends were dropping some rather disparaging comments about my change of theme.
I started wearing other colours than just black. And then the biggest change: I stripped the black dye out of my hair, and tried to take it back to blonde. It was not as light as it had been previously, as there was a lot of black dye to strip out. But nevertheless, the yellow-haired pink dress wearing version of me was a stark contrast to the black-haired bundle of gloom Casey had thought he had married.
It took him a long time to understand my change of appearance, and an even longer time to accept it. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I could not really understand it myself – all I knew was, if my former lifestyle had caused my illness, I wanted to be as far away from it as possible, in any possible way. Eventually, I began painting a nice lemon colour over the black walls of my house, and took down the band posters and put up some nice pictures of myself and Casey. Being that I had endured a few months of extreme illness and pain, I decided that we both needed something good in our future to look forward to – so we began planning a holiday to Europe.
As we settled in to the plane seats and began to temper ourselves for 25 hours of travelling, the thought crossed my mind that this is the first time I would be going on a plane without praying for a safe trip. I felt a little uneasy. I was surprised to realise that I actually wanted to pray for the trip. I started thinking back through the journey I had taken, from naïve child with her Bible For Children, to full-blown Bible-bashing Baptist, to nominal fair-weather Christian in a two-faced COC, to hate-preaching Atheist. I was not happy in the situation I was in. I wondered if it was possible to change.
A 25 hour flight gives one a lot of opportunity for thought. By the time we landed in London, I had said my timid prayer for a safe trip, and upon arriving in safety at our hotel room in Penzance, I even offered a timid prayer of thanks for said trip. As my husband and I toured the sites in Cornwall where my family had come from, my attitude towards God, and stance on His existence, began to significantly change.
Part 7 can be read by clicking HERE.
I’m really enjoying this series, and I wait eagerly for each new installment. I have a little suggestion for those who design the blog: When this series is finished, could you please put a link on the bottom of each installment that links to the next one. So at the bottom of “Part 1” you could put a link that says “Go to Part 2,” and so on. That would make it easy to read through the entire series. I think I would like to share this with others and also on my blog, and it would make it easy to do so if I could just share the first link and then have them follow the links through to read the whole series.