It is not eerie to be in a room, but it is somehow eerie to imagine a room in your mind with no inhabitants. On what plane does the room in your mind exist? How can you picture the way it lies suspended in memory? Why is the real lighting normal, but the lighting in your mind perturbing? In death, is that realm the one you explore forever? The realm in the mind, which closes in upon you from all sides like static, like darkness? There is no sunlight in your mind. There is no fresh air, no tactile sensation, every unsettling detail expanding infinitely in magnitude. It’s as if you have always existed — only stored in a corner of that memory space, preceding your birth, preceding the birth of time. You found physical form outside of it, and when you lose your physical form, that space is where you will return.
there is a version of me trapped in each memory like a snowglobe. me, thirteen, long hair in a ponytail, running across the beach where the water is just an inch deep because I love the way it splashes. me, eight, staring out the car window and thinking how strange it is I’ve only been on the earth for eight years and yet I feel like I have always been here. me, eleven, in New Mexico, on Christmas, staring at the luminarias lining the sidewalks. me, sixteen, listening to my writing instructor’s voice break. memory isn’t a continuous and chronological line, not even a line at all, and I don’t know if that’s what time is, either. my life is a room with no walls that holds a hundred thousand memories suspended in water. I jump from moment to moment out of order and everything else is just the space between.
I grew up in a protestant church, and women in church aren’t at all encouraged to pursue theology or philosophy or anything like that, and they’re usually banned from teaching except in women’s groups. so people mostly just conveniently assumed that girls generally aren’t into that sort of thing. but I was! and I constantly asked questions. the female counselors didn’t know how to talk to me about it. they referred me to the male counselors, who were very interested in my questions. so it seemed like all of my productive conversations were with men. after a while, I think I just didn’t trust women enough to ask them questions, because women had never given me answers I was happy with. it wasn’t like they weren’t smart enough. they just… didn’t talk about theology or predestination or virtue. those subjects were confined to male circles only, like some unspoken rule. it was strange.
I went to a homeschool co-op until 8th grade, so I did a lot of reading. and the vast majority of classic literature, history books, old plays, etc. are written exclusively by men. men dominated the field of writing and philosophy for so long. and because I was so indoctrinated with religion for my entire goddamn childhood, I hardly read a single thing written by a woman. hardly a thing. everything I was passionate about was only taught to me by men. so I have this fucked up natural aversion to women, because I’m so used to only men sharing my interests! I hate it! and there are plenty of women involved in English and philosophy and religion and that sort of thing, and I’m constantly trying to seek them out, but I still notice this very subtle shift. I’m just not as interested in what women have to say. I’m a woman myself, but I still naturally equate female bodies/voices with not just physical weakness, butmental weakness. I’m so tired of it.
a lot of men try to tell you that there aren’t as many women in certain fields because women aren’t naturally inclined towards said fields. but I really, really don’t think that’s true. I really, really think that men have dominated those fields for so long that women just keep their passion inside and never share it because, without even realizing it, they don’t think women are good enough. and they don’t think they themselves are good enough.
I think that’s why I struggle with my gender identity, too. I just can’t figure out a way to identify with the female gender. I care less about my own physical strength than my mental strength. I do have body dysphoria, but I wonder if it has more to do with that mental gap than I thought. I don’t know why I have such a problem with being a woman. I think I consider myself weak because I’m a female. Somehow, if I were a man, my interests would be validated. My mind would make more sense. The women in the church sometimes thought I was only talking to male counselors because I had crushes on them. I did have crushes on them. But I didn’t experience sexual attraction at that age — at least not overt sexual attraction. I was just… more attracted to the men in my church because they radiated a sort of wisdom that the women didn’t. There are women in my life now, who I love, who would talk to me about religion and philosophy until the earth burned. But there’s this part of me that, God help me, just wishes they were men. What the fuck is up with that? I’m bisexual. I’m sexually attracted to women. This isn’t a matter of me just wishing I could have crushes on them or whatever. It’s deep. It’s a hatred of who I am. The fact that I’m a woman should have absolutely no bearing on my career choice or my passion. I can still study work from men who lived a thousand years ago. They aren’t going to stop me. They’re dead. But the aesthetic appeal of philosopher, of wise man? It’s all masculine. I want to be masculine. Not a man, but just as strong of will and of character. I can’t describe how much I hate that women are always assigned a submissive or a secondary role. Women aren’t supporting characters. God fucking damn it. God damn it.
I think of my grandparents as still alive. How could I think of them as anything else? How could they not be somewhere parallel to me? Where are they, that could be unreachable? Is this God’s plan for us? Live side by side until one timeline breaks and falls away to he-knows-where-but-I-do-not? Is Papa safe? Is Grandpa George safe? Does suicide take you to the seventh layer of hell? Does hell exist? I think there’s something very wrong about all of this. There is nobody to ask. There is nobody who has gone and come back. The only ones to ask are the unbroken. The dead know now what my body squirms daily to discover. I could have asked them in life but they did not know, not then. Only now. This is unfixable. Unknowable. Putrid, obscene ignorance that sticks in my flesh like shame. It feels like a sin, gathers together suddenly in waves of pure, destitute panic. It’s strange, the way the vulnerability in desperation can sometimes feel akin to an orgasm. My mind lurches to fill its empty spaces and finds no information with which to do so. Nature is infallible because she doesn’t pretend to be kind. God, however. God allows my suffering and still proclaims he is kind.
Spreading your fingers out flat against the table. Friction stopping your soul from falling backwards out of your body and into the maw of hell.
Reality twisting. But what is reality? It’s shifting. This isn’t the truth. God is withholding the truth. This is a simulation test. Soon, the world will turn into focus and you will face judgment.
You love drinking because alcohol is glue and it slaps your halves together.
Is it your instincts that lie to you? Or your insecurity? Or reality itself? Stop thinking about reality. It doesn’t matter what’s real.
When you imagine having conversations, your words flow freely alongside the current of your thoughts. But when you really speak, time freezes like a Tomb Raider quicktime action, only you aren’t allowed to think because everyone is yelling at you to be clever and by everyone I mean you. You hold reality in your hand. That’s a lot of responsibility. And you can’t even keep up with a conversation.
Your instincts are your compass and your compass is broken and there’s no way, there’s absolutely no way, that everyone else feels this incredible sense of urgency.
Aching self hatred.
Stop fucking obsessing. You pathetic fucking worm.
You know if you could stalk people and get away with it, you would. You tell yourself you’re just fascinated by people. I’m sure that’s true. I’m sure it’s normal to fantasize about someone you’ve known for one week. I’m sure that’s normal.
You can’t even fucking kill yourself. Because you’re so afraid of death.
Who did this to you?
I thought you knew that God couldn’t be pinned down. You’ve said so many times that his nature is incomprehensible. Why do you tell me we can’t know the concrete truth, but then, with the same tongue and absolute certainty, tell me I’m wrong? There is no absolute truth. I know you think that’s a logical fallacy. But you ignore every logical fallacy I bring to your attention, and you know why, don’t you? You know it’s because there is no absolute reality. You know that, because even the color red changes from human to human. Even eyesight, depth perception, hearing. I’m deaf in my left ear. I can’t hear the birds chirping in the morning. My best friend is schizophrenic. She texted me the other night about the way the voices seemed different than they usually do — they were alarming when usually they’re calm. How come you hate vanilla ice cream when I love it? How come I care so much about hell when you don’t? How come I’m wrong when I say that truth is relative?
Vanilla ice cream is delicious. There is no absolute truth.
Everything about life is subjective. That is the nature of reality and the beauty of it, too. God will not damn me to hell because he did not reveal the same truth to me that he did to you. God is Abba, Father, Mother, Protector of his/her children in life and in death. He knows where our differences lie. He knows that fear will never be solid ground for my faith, even if it is for you. We aren’t the same.
You know that God is the God of second chances. You know the parable of the Farmer and his workers. He hired men to tend his vineyard, and they worked all day starting in the morning. When afternoon came, he found more men waiting for work, and when he asked them why they were waiting, they said nobody had hired them. So he hired them, and they worked until the end of the day. When the Farmer paid all of the workers the same, the ones who had worked from morning complained. “‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.'”
God is in control. He will save some of us now and some of us at the mouth of Death. We will never be penalized for waiting.
I’m waiting for God. All of the faithless are waiting. We cannot be cast into hell for the knowledge that is withheld from us.
The road to truth is dim and slippery and every human being is given a separate route.