In one of the very first things I wrote on this blog, where I compared the inner darkness trauma and abuse brings to the aphotic zone that makes up most of the ocean, maybe most of the planet. It’s the depth where the water is too dense for sunlight to come through, leaving these areas of the ocean shrouded. The saints have talked about something similar, calling it the “dark night of the soul“. It’s a depression so deep that prayer offers no respite, God’s presence imperceivable.
That’s where I can confidently say I’ve found myself.
I still haven’t heard word of the dear priest who’s dying. Planned Parenthood is “celebrating” their 100th year anniversary, leaving me mourning the empty place Lucas could’ve been. There’s so much darkness…it’s more than enough for me to completely implode. My confessor and doctor would say I’d be clinging to the past, and while I used to feel like it’s more like the past is clinging onto me, chaining me, they would’ve been absolutely right today. I don’t want anyone anywhere near my heart. I’ve had enough of giving my heart only for it to be broken, thank you.
Why am I writing this then? Why am I pouring my heart like this? I guess because it’s a part of my journey. It also might be due to the counsel my doctor gave me; I asked him, in light of the news that hospitals will be “providing” assisted suicide to their depressed patients (therefore rendering hospitals untrustworthy, as they’d clearly rather let me die than help me), what I should do if I found myself in as dark a place as I did last week.
He told me to write, write to him, to my confessor, to God. So, I’m writing.
When I look about, everything tells me God exists. The law of energy conservation tells me the universe God created is fair. The Big Bang tells me God wants life and creation to exist, even in the midst of complete chaos (the classical understanding, as the primordial nothingness and destruction). When I look, the whole universe tells me God not only exists, He is one of order, beauty, and life/creation.
The question comes up then: “Why is life unfair? Why is there destruction? Why is there so much chaos and death?” The answer is very obvious to those willing to look below the surface.
Someone asked in a PTSD forum “Are humans good or evil?” I answered, from everything I’d learned, that every human to ever live (except maybe Jesus and Mary) have all the potential for good as well as evil, love and hate, brought about by their free will, their ability to choose. Each of us likewise has a conscience, a gift from God to help us choose good, but as we can easily see from the world, or from our own lives, we can choose to ignore it.
Some of us humans don’t like hearing this, I know. It’s hard to do whatever the hell we want, damn the consequences when things like “good” and “evil” exist. That’s why things like relativism exists. That’s why so many of us undermine or deny the authority of God (“God is dead“, “God’s a magical imaginary friend“) or even each other for daring to enforce such ethical boundary. It’s popular, too, to respond to accusations with what’s popular to abusers: projection, or what I like to call the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” principle. It’s also popular to tell lies, or accuse the others of lying (again, projecting). There’re just too many pent up feelings, a lot of emotional manipulation and blackmail. How can anyone see the truth through all this?
Love isn’t a feeling or emotion, though; it’s a decision that often isn’t easy or painless, no matter how much we want it to be, sometimes to the point of lying to ourselves.
None of the virtues have anything to do with feeling. Feelings sometimes encourage or deter us in our choices, good or bad. My feelings almost killed me, but then, my feelings for the people I actually do let anywhere near me, towards God, played a big part in saving my life. Feelings therefore aren’t good or evil. I dislike my feelings, but that itself is a feeling; it comes from the fact that most of the feelings I’d experienced in my life were painful ones. Fear, shame, disgust, anger, sorrow, betrayal, confusion…these were my normal. It’s only too understandable why I’d not want emotions, and on the same principle, why I’d not want anyone near me.
There was a very sad story of a little girl who was abducted, sexually abused, and thrown in a latrine to shiver in human waste. When people came to rescue her, she screamed, backed away, even threw the waste at them. She’d rather stay in that horrible place than let anyone near her. I’m that girl, as are so many of us who’ve suffered, which is to say all of us.
Humans have equal potential for good and evil. I, as a human being, have the power to destroy the world, and the power to save the world. That’s a terrifying power to have, and yet have it we do by virtue of our free will. I have to face that some of my choices are not the best ones; there are things I’m better at than others, and things I’m abysmally worse than others. It’s not enough to just do whatever I want, or let other people just do what they want. Like it or not, there are consequences to every decision we make. We can try to dodge them, try to pin it on another, but that’s what abusers do, so they can continue abusing.
In video games, it’s popular to have good/bad endings, depending on certain decisions one makes in the game. In the Souls series (or at least Demon’s Souls, as I hadn’t played any Dark Souls games), there was also a World Tendency, shifting good or bad depending on certain actions (eg. defeating demons vs. murdering humans). The worse the World Tendency, the stronger the demons, the less life you have, and the more likely you’ll have Black Phantom invasions (aka. other players coming in to brutally kill you, while the game still had its online features).
What’s interesting, though, is that the good and bad endings are completely irrelevant to the World or even Character Tendency you have; after the final boss, no matter what, you get to make one last decision. You can either walk away to allow your friend to lull the soul-devouring Old One to sleep, or you can murder her to gain endless power as its demon servant. You either choose friendship, or choose power. You save the world, or destroy it.
Looking around the world today, or at the very least, this country, I’d say the “World Tendency” is pretty dark. No matter where one stands on whatever issue, everyone is tense and defensive. There’s more violence, more death, more apathy, and absolutely a more desperate desire for power. Seems paradoxical, as the more demands for there to be fluidity and relativity, there’s more extremism, more demonizing (again, that same tendency to attack the other to justify one’s choice/desire, no matter what it is). Some may argue this darker World Tendency is due to not enough people bending to their desires/demands, while others will argue it’s because too many have bent. Either way, no one can rightly deny that we’re at war, culturally if nothing else.
My confessor and I saw this recently when he mentioned something in his homily with a reference to something accused of both of the presidential candidates (one as an abuser, another as an active enabler of abuse) to talk about a very real sickness in our culture that allows and celebrates the things that encourages and causes this behavior, like the sex “industry” or “anything goes” sexuality. Even though he thought to add that this is true regardless of where one stands in politics (in at least two of the Masses, anyways), he got a lot of criticism for daring to say something against the “pro-life” candidate on the extremist principle that to do so is to support the other.
I saw this myself in trying to kill myself; I had the very emotional desire, blamed God and all of humanity, and sought complete power over my fate. I accepted the consequences of harming anyone who gives a damn about my life and most likely ending up in hell, at least. What was better is that I eventually listened to my conscience, that will for me to live.
…Writing about all this makes me question my decision to not trust. I’m sure that was the point, going on the reason that both my confessor and doctor have strongly encouraged me to trust as a means to heal. I also am aware that I will not be able to go from not trusting to trusting in an instant. I need help, and I need take as many steps as I need to grow to that point.
The other night, I’d realized I’d closed off to my confessor since I told him about my suicide attempt. I wrote and thought through it, coming to the conclusion that this was because I believed I have harmed the friendship to the point of losing it in doing so. So many others had broken friendship with me over smaller matters after all. It was very hard to bring myself to talk to him about that, but eventually, I texted him about it. That was a leap of faith, a tentative reach to trust that he wouldn’t be that kind of person.
I now have written proof that I otherwise wouldn’t have from him that “nothing had changed”. I even got more than I asked, as he added that I was alive, like that’s all he took from that horrible thing I tried to do. That’s what mattered to him: my life.
He and my doctor seem to be the only ones I trust right now, along with that one friend I contacted after the attempt. That’s where I am. I won’t be this way forever, but it’s where I am. The ballet teacher on my DVD would remark that even if all I can do is lift my leg an inch off the floor, it’s still beautiful, because it’s an honest expression of where I am now. She also said flexibility, strength, and grace will come with time, intention, and practice.
Obviously, we can’t completely equate the two things, as the latter is something some may not be able to do no matter what, while the former is something all humans can do. The parallel is found in that takes longer for some as it does others. I’ve not done ballet for about 6-7 years, and am not as strong or flexible as I was. I’ve been abused most of my life from people who were supposed to love me most, and suffered heartbreak from many people I trusted to love me. In ballet and in trust, I have many handicaps.
Jesus once said, “Blessed are those who have not seen [Me] and yet still believe.” (John 20:29) I was born almost 2000 years after He still walked about as an outwardly normal guy I could easily see and hear. I’ve also not been given much point of reference to the key characteristics of who He is, like love and forgiveness. My capacity for trust is very low for others, for God, and especially myself. Granted, it is higher than it used to be. My misplaced trust in people who broke my heart taught me to not be so fast to trust. Even the misery I’m in now by closing off to everyone is teaching me that maybe a little bit of trust isn’t so bad. I stumble and fall back, but I have made some progress.
They say it’s more about learning to dance in the rain than wait for the storm to pass. I’m not very graceful, and it’s not very joyful or lively like a ballerina’s, but maybe I am learning to dance even with both legs broken. That requires trusting myself to heal in however much time I need, and trusting God to give me trustworthy others to hold my hands, pick me up, and even carry me if need be.
This too is dancing. It’s very wobbly, painful, clumsy, and scary…and maybe a little bit beautiful?