I pass a red haired beauty on the street. She has a slim face, a joyful smile and the red hair that I love. She is the most beautiful and happy girl I have seen in days. I want her, terribly. And immediately, my stomach contracts. I know I can not have her. Normally, I would push the emotion down and read about game to convince myself that this is not true, but I instead decide to study that conviction. Why do I believe I can not have her?
And the answer is really simple. I can not have her because I desire her. My desire is shameful. I suppress it as automatically as I breathe. It does not even feel like real desire. It is more the pain of suppressing it that makes me know I desire her. It is the shadow of my desire that I feel: Shame. And like orbiting planets are used to deduce the existence of a dark star in their midst, my shame lets me deduce that I desire her.
If I desire her, surely someone else desires her, too. It would be cruel of me to rob that person of her. Who am I to deserve her? She does not need me, because she is desirable. And if she does not need me, she will just use me. It is like a law of the universe in my head:. Some weird divinity decided to make it that way, to mock people.
So the only time. I felt nothing towards her, which is why that relationship could be. She fell asleep on my breast afterwards and that was nice, but I think she felt something was missing, because she never asked to do it again.
So that is that. What you desire is there to mock you. Desire is – in truth – an indicator of a deception, of something you should not pursue. Desire is an indicator that that which you desire is not real and can not be had.
In fact, even if I could have her, all I would feel would be the shame, but more intensely. I would not be able to accept her and enjoy her, because I really only feel the shadow of my desire. A tightened belly. And the shadow of my desire is satisfied by abstaining from the object that is desired. That means, the closer she would get, the more I would need to push her away. Sex could never happen. Likely, I would not be able to get a hard on. I would feel a strong tension on my lower abdomen instead. The shadow of my sexual desire, satisfied by celibacy. Maybe I could force myself to it, but I would not enjoy it.
Yes, the gods are cruel. Best to accept it and move on. Life is pointless. That which can be desired can not be had. And that which can be had can not be desired. The result is a life of either indifference or self-torture.
The next thought enters my head.
What if I can simply not allow myself to desire?
But why would I not?
Well, of course. Because desire leads to failure and loss. Because I know that what I desire will ultimately betray and leave me, which will make me feel ashamed. How do I know? Every time I truly desired, I lost. And felt ashamed.
But wait. That does not make any sense. Why would I feel ashamed when I do not get what I desire? Should I not feel sad?
And then I remember.
One time, I invited this girl to Running Sushi. I told her that I do not have any contact with my mother. That I do not like her. She became sad. She said: That is so sad. I looked at her and felt ashamed of the suggestion. How embarassing, to be sad. What a childish reaction. I told her that I do not feel sad. That I feel nothing.
But I was feeling something. A pressure on my belly. It was normal for me and I was used to it, so I did not think it meant anything.
When I started with my meditations, I felt the same pressure. It did not seem to be a part of me even. It did not make any sense. I wanted to get rid of it.
But now I understand. It was once more shame. In this case the shame was the shadow of sadness.
When my mother could not love me as a child, I became sad. But my mother panicked and intervened: Do not be sad! Oh please, do not be sad! I will make it alright! It will all be good!
Seeing as how being sad hurt my mother, I concluded it would be best to not be sad. It would, instead, pretend to be happy. Or at least indifferent. So we could make it work. So we could pretend she is a good mother, so she does not have to go into that pain again, does not have to confront her fear of my sadness again.
When I failed with a girl I desired very much, my mother once more panicked. Oh please, do not be sad! It will all be good!
Well, how the fuck am I supposed to feel if not sad?
But alright, I guess being sad hurts her quite a lot. It is simply not a good thing to be sad. It is unacceptable. I guess something is wrong with me for feeling sad about a girl I can not have. I guess I should not care that much. I guess I should, instead, keep chasing the girl and pretend like it did not affect me at all. Being sad is very shameful. A sin. A sacrilege.
I also feel ashamed for pretending not to care. I should not have to pretend. I should actually not care. Being sad is bad.
Yeah, that made a lot of sense back then and even now that I see how stupid it sounds, I can only move on by accepting that I actually believe that. And now it all comes untangled. And I realize why I kept chasing girls I could not have. Why I tried to make it work with my mother.
I could not allow myself to be sad. Thus I could never really let go of anything and grieve. Thus I was pratically not allowed to let go of something I could not have. Thus I chased after the girl for years. Because I could not allow myself to let go, could not allow myself to be sad. Who am I to deserve to feel sadness? What an insult to others. See how it hurts others to see me sad? No, I can not allow that.
You can never grieve what you are not allowed to let go of. And you can never let go what you are not allowed to grieve.
To let go of my mother would have meant to grieve. But that was impossible. That would mean she was not a good mother. It would literally destroy her. It would be her doom, seeing as she collapsed when I was merely sad about a girl.
So we keep pretending to be happy family. I play nice boy and strong man who takes care of her, my good mother. I feel nothing when I embrace her, just deadness and tension and shame. I come to the conclusion that that is the feeling of being a man: Tightened muscles. I am her strong man who can take it all.
So it does make sense that the greatest expression of love I am capable of is an epic emotional landscape of death. That the place I feel most one with my love is the place completely devoid of it. That I see a black hole and in face of the black hole finally can feel desire. Externalize the shadow of love and you become aware of the real thing in yourself.
Accepting that virtually everything ends in an apocalyptic manner is the only kind of closure I can hope for to understand everything.
The only way I could love would be in misery. With a girl in my arms who can not love, either. With a dark, miserable girl. Some whore from a metal concert with majestic features and a dangerous look in her face. We would hardly be lovers. No. We would be grievers of love, united in a common mission: To finally . That is why I always felt attracted to damaged girls. And that is why I felt endlessly ashamed of it and absolutely undeserving of it. The greatest thing I hoped for was a girl with whom I could find together in misery, where I would be allowed to feel my own. But the shame was too strong and I could not allow myself to be so honest about it. In the end, my sadness would just hurt her. As would my desire. I can not let that happen. I have hurt enough people with my neediness. I best keep to myself.
You know, it does make sense that my mother could not tolerate sadness, now that I think of it.
Maybe my mother was not the real culprit. Maybe the real source of all the pain was quite a hidden and unseeming one.
She would always welcome us with all her heart. And after a day or two, she would break out crying, saying things like: You just all want me to die! None of you loves me!
And I would think it ridiculous. I would tell her I love her, because I did. But she would not believe it. So I thought that I was incapable of loving. So I tried to accomodate her. So I tried to carress her and tell her that I love her. And then she would start demanding me to change and I guess I caved in a few times, until I one day finally realized that it changed nothing.
I tried to be her slave and serve her so that she would believe my love. But that kind of selflessness was actually the opposite of love. It was an act of self-loathing. So I equated self-loathing with love. I felt that loving someone was not enough – that warm content and confident feeling in my chest. No. To prove my love, I need to lower myself, lose my self-respect and submit to the person I love. If I want to be an independent person, that is the proof that I do not love.
I was so fucking blind. All the time I was angry and hateful towards my mother. And yeah, my mother hurt me a lot, too. But the source of it all was my grandmother.
The signs are so clear now. My mother ran away from my grandmother, but felt guilty and kept contact. My mother secretly seemed to hate and loathe my grandmother, too, but that did not keep her from coming back to Czech to see her and take me with her.
And it is so obvious why she could not tolerate my sadness now. I mean, when you are used to those fucking guilt trips, what can you do? When you feel that your honest love and acceptance of another person hurts the other person terribly, what can you do? When you feel like the personification of evil, hurting others by your mere presence, what can you do?
Yeah, what can you do. I will tell you. You do fucking everything to make up for being the horrible person you see yourself as. You do everything for the guilt tripper. Because you see them as the normal person and you think: Damn, if I can make this person feel so miserable, I better hope I can make up for it. I better hope I can at least fix this a little bit before taking my guaranteed place in hell.
When you see this existential pain in another person and conclude that you are the reason, all selfish desires become irrelevant. My father once said that slavery should be allowed. For if he should happen to kill somebody’s kid in an accident, he would feel so guilty that he would want to serve them for the rest of his life.
And so I thought I would be the slave, just as my mother did. That I would serve and serve and serve and hopefully, one day, be redeemed of the guilt of being me.
Yes, selfish desire really seems wrong then. To desire a girl? Impossible. If my desire will make her feel like dying and unloved and transform her world into pain, I have to swallow my desire. The pain of unsatisfied desire is bad, but not nearly as bad as the guilt of making someone else feel so endlessly miserable.
Yes, I must have felt that I had a pact with the devil. To terrorize my grandmother. And I guess, my mother too. Everybody. I was an agent of the dark, that was my firm conviction. And the best I could do to live with myself was to withdraw myself from everybody and die quietly, without them even noticing. I do not deserve their pity. I will not bother society with my evil self any longer. It is my duty to withdraw my self from everybody without a word of pain. How dare I express sadness over my loss in face of the terrible damage I have done?
Come think of it. My mother truly never said that she tried to kill herself because of me. Or that she was depressed because of me. My grandmother said it.
I loved my grandmother more and I believed her. She is the perfect and ultimate victim. I thought my mother had said it to her. But my grandmother actually told me that my mother had said nothing.
The signs are so fucking clear.
My mother was not depressed because of me. She was depressed because of her mother. In a way, we both were the victims of my grandmother. She may have been the true Borderliner in the family.
My mother was in psychiatric care. Because she was the evil one? No. Because she was the victim as much as me. But I attacked her with blind fervor. She was the one person truly alone in this story.
Me and my mother were the scapegoats of my grandmother. My grandmother, the unseeming, poor, innocent, loving, cooking, and in return unloved creature. My grandmother had this holy place in my mind. And she blamed me for my mother’s unhappiness. She told me that if I would be there for my mother, my mother could be happy.
I was so fucking blind. The true monster was the person I loved the most from my family. Who seemed to love me the most, with her innocent serving in good moments. The one who seemed so endlessly deserving of love and at the same time so incapable of ever being satisfied with the love we gave. Which is why I never called her, I guess. Something was just off.
To this all I have to add: Maybe. None of it is really that clear cut. I guess some of those traits are inherited until resolved. So my mother may – in the end – have become just the person my grandmother was. Her victim and at the same time my oppressor. And I became the same after that.
How fucked up, right? It is impossible to assign fault to anyone. It is all blurred. It is all somehow hard to grasp. It is a chaos of love, hatred, guilt, shame and compassion. It is hard to make any sense of it all. Of their place in it. Of my place in it. It is endlessly confusing. Nobody is at fault. People transform and switch between loving helpers and helpless victim guilt-trippers in a matter of seconds. Who is anybody? The world does not seem to make any sense. There is no clear way to apply responsibility to anyone. Everybody is a victim and at the same time a cruel monster. An untouchable angel and then a fallen devil and accuser. The seeds of madness run deep in my family and they found a fruitful soil in my mind. The only thing that seems definite and true, is chaos.
I must not feel sadness, but neither can I allow anybody else to feel sadness, because that is a proof of my failure and devastating to me. When I see sadness in another person, I become anxious and afraid. When I actually fail someone, I feel existential pain. It is like dying. In that sense, I am a mirror image of my mother. And perhaps of my grandmother.
Help. I do not understand.
But maybe I do. Maybe I am the last link in the chain. The one to untangle the mess and end the madness. The spiritual warrior, master of the light and the dark.
I know I can do this. And I am much closer already. It has been a long time since I last felt that existential angst, since I last felt my emotional world disintegrate and and spiral into chaos.
Now that I have a somewhat peaceful and rational view on it all, I realize how hard and impossible is to make anyone understand this bullshit. I can describe it, but I feel it can never do justice to the real experience. Calling it ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ sounds technical. It sounds in control. It sounds quantifiable and understandable. It sounds like you can see and reject it easily when you know the term.
Oh, you would be a fool to think that something is harmless just because there is a name for it. Yes, in fact, a more mythical word would do it justice. Devil perhaps, but even that does not do it. The devil is simple, straight-forward malevolent. Easy to identify. A clear role.
This is a whole different ball game. It is like the universe itself is spiraling out of control. Like nothing is what it seems. No emotion or thought is clear. Nobody and nothing has a clear role. Nothing is either good or bad, but both at the same time and / or alternatingly. I am either devil and oppressor or savior and victim myself. Or both. Everything is conflicted, in the world and in my head. You can move neither forward nor backward, because all directions hurt impossibly. Do one thing, feel pain. Do another thing, feel pain. But even if you do nothing at all, you feel pain. In the end, all becomes irrelevant. An almost inescapable hell of mental and emotional confusion. The emotions that would help you understand it are blocked by other emotions that keep you from doing that. Guilt against desire. But also shame for the guilt, shame for shame itself. Guilt for desire, hope for freedom, shame for that hope. Fear of it all, but shame for the fear. It is a big pile of weird emotions. A puzzle. A riddle. An emotional Rubik’s cube. Move too fast in one direction and you get stuck. Move too fast in another, you get stuck again. Nothing is ever clear, no emotion can be consistently felt and relied on. Your own soul, your own mind becomes the enemy, a trickster. If it was not so painful, it would be intriguing.
But it is not even clearly hell, because it is still intermingled with moments of glory and joy. It is simply everything, put into a blender and sent down the rabbit hole of entropy.
You can run from the devil. But what do you do if the light at the end of the tunnel turns into a devil all on its own? What when the heroic attempt to break out becomes a trap in itself? One solution may be to just suck up all the pain instead of running from it. Assimilating it until none is left and the world becomes whole again. But even that is emotionally prohibited and gets stuck. What when the people that want to help you can not be trusted? What when you feel you should trust, while at the same time feeling you should not? What when paranoia and submission merge into a weird state of nothing makes sense. What when those who know the solution to your problem can not be told apart from those who want to ride you deeper into it? What when in one moment you feel clarity and love, only to fall back into confusion, rage and distrust in the next? Was that clarity real or just another false trail? Was that advice really well-meant or a figment of the other person’s delusions as well?
Some of you may wonder why I believe in nothing at all. This is the reason. I can not allow myself to. I can not tell apart that which I should believe and that which I should discard. So I generally open up to everything while not putting blind trust into anything. That is the only way I can hope to solve the puzzle. I do not know which ones of you mean well and which do not. Sure, I can follow my intuition to judge whether you have good intentions, but good intentions are in no way evidence of a solution, as the ever-changing nature of the people in my family has shown time and time again.
In fact, the uncertainty of my childhood environment has convinced me that nothing is certain. I feel most at home with that idea. Most peaceful. You all say that that is a bad state to be in, but maybe you are the deluded ones. Maybe my confusion is really the only honest way to live. Maybe a world of contradictions is really the only realistic one. Maybe I am the messiah who comes with the one absolute truth that there is none. Maybe I am just a lunatic. Who knows. All that ever speaks for your arguments is consistency. You have been fed consistent ideas throughout your life, so you feel certain and reassured. But that in no way means that those consistent ideas are in any way true.
Yeah, it is even possible that most of you are just as mad as I am. It is possible that the pretense of sanity is the thing that spawns madness in the first place. To experience an absolute in one moment and then see it become irrelevant in another while still believing that there must be an absolute somewhere keeps you restless.
Yeah, how do I know that I am not just the only honest person here who admits that he is confused and not certain about anything? That you are all frauds who hide their uncertainty behind ideology, higher purposes, gods, democracy and whatever the fuck enters your minds. That your choice of order is less the knowledge of the right way than the necessity to believe in one. And then the interesting question is: If that is true, how can I ever know for certain? Funny how it goes, right? How can I know for certain that nothing is certain? I can not. Which is the whole point why accepting uncertainty is inevitable. The one hypothetical person who has certainty and truth is the only person who knows that certainty and truth exist. Nobody else could be certain, for only the person that has actually seen absolute truth can believe in its existence. But even he could be wrong. Certainty is not a guarantee for truth, after all. You would need the certainty that you will always stay certain about it to really believe in an absolute truth. Absolutely nothing in life that I have seen is that consistently true. Which makes absolute certainty in itself look like mental illness and a delusion.
It is all a frustratingly slow process. And I feel ashamed of being frustrated – cool, huh? As said, there is no clear direction. There is just one puzzle piece after another.
Dante’s layers of hell? That is nothing. Those are just clear and understandable punishments. Calculable pain. Clear ways of redemption. In my life, such a clear path does not exist.
I feel a slight joy writing this down. I look foward to solving it. It will be the project of my life.
A woman may not be able to deal with this. My mother may never heal, neither my grandmother. But I am a man. I am a warrior. And I will come out of this stronger than ever before. I will be the one to go into hell and single-handedly defeat the demons. I will be the one to smile into the devil’s eyes. Before I merge him with light.