I know I sound dramatic at times. Perhaps even a little melodramatic. I am not prone to dramatics in general, but when I crash, I tend to do it hard. I’m skipping ahead a little, but I know I have brain chemistry problems. I have theories as to the specific variety, but I lack funding to see an appropriate specialist and confirm anything. Mostly I just want to convey how dark and overwhelmed I became. I thought about the situation on a near-constant basis.
I rearranged my room four times that year. I stayed up until late hours, often anywhere from two am to five am. If I decided to go to class the next morning, I got out of bed at eight am. If I didn’t have class or decided not to attend, I slept until three pm. Afternoon naps curled in the sunshine on my bed became routine. Sometimes when I laid down to sleep, I would lie awake, staring at the window curtains. I would remember feeling Cereal’s arms around me and it would be all I could think about. I would get up and read more fanfiction. I would turn on the television, clean my room, and try to get tired. It was a process repeated nearly every day.
I simply could not stop thinking. I could not shut off my brain. The guilt was crushing and all-consuming. I emotionally broke another human being. I hurt him. I hated myself so intensely and so often. Walking to class, I’d be thinking about it. In class, I would wonder how he was doing. School became more difficult for me. Homework and grades slipped in importance.
All that mattered was what I had done.
I doodled art of maimed bodies and looked up violent artwork. I watched gory movies. The violence was calming. I started pinching the skin on my hands and lower arm with my fingernails. Nothing that left a mark, just enough to feel something. To punish myself. I moved up to biting. I punched the cement walls sometimes. Not hard though. Nothing that broke skin, just enough that I could feel it.
I expanded on my suicidal ideas. I moved on from the gun vision. I thought about walking in front of a truck. It wouldn’t have been hard. They drove past the road next to the dorm all the time. Just step out into the road. It would be so fast, I wouldn’t feel anything. Unless I survived. The thought that I might live through it and have to deal with family and hospital bills was enough to stop me. And really, it wouldn’t be fair to do that to the driver.
I thought about cutting a lot. I didn’t. And really, slitting wrists is not a one hundred percent method. Many survive and again, I did not want to deal with the consequences of surviving a failed attempt. I had always liked bladed weapons like swords and knives. The more curved and stranger the shape, the more I liked them. This intensified as I attached the daydreams to the object.
I hate swallowing pills, so that wasn’t really a consideration for me.
I thought about walking down alleys late at night and getting jumped by thugs. How they might hold me up against walls and threaten me with knives. I could get raped and stabbed to death. At least I wouldn’t die a virgin. The thought was a little peaceful.
I was maybe a little fucked up.
When I was younger, I had always been interested in stories with tortured, angsty characters. The characters with tragic backstories and death and torture. As I grew older, this fascination grew stronger and more detailed. I became interested in both physical and psychological torture. Dismemberment, knife-cutting, being tied down and especially the anguished screams. Family members dead, betrayal, abandonment. The best torture is the kind that utilizes both emotional and physical pain.
The only way I can really describe it is like a hunger. I wanted, I craved to know and understand what it was like. I don’t know why. I don’t think it was my strange childhood. Although the feelings intensified after Cereal, they existed before I had met him. It was a part of who I was that I’d never thought about or addressed. It had just existed, emerging slightly in my artwork and more so in my reading choices but otherwise unnoticed and ignored. Until those first few months.
I never drew blood, never marked myself, never planned any kind of suicide. I just fantasized about it. I don’t think I would have. I was not suicidal; I was in a dark place. If someone had tried to kill me though, I’m not sure I would have stopped them. Looking back, I think of myself as passively suicidal.
There were two reasons why I was not active. One was that, my being a naïve, Christian, good girl, I had always disapproved of suicide. It’s giving up on life and therefore wrong. It was weakness. It was selfish, leaving family members behind to grieve. So easy to say and think when not feeling crippling despair. Now that I was experiencing it, I thought about how it would break my family, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to stop feeling more than I cared about their feelings. The short of it was, I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I didn’t want to be the person saying “Suicide is wrong,” and then kill myself. The second reason was Twin. If I died, self-inflicted or otherwise, she would be sad. This was unacceptable.
Twin had always been the happiest person I had ever known. We had a running joke that if she ever got depressed, it would be a sign of the apocalypse. When surrounded by depressed people who always wanted something from me, she was my safe haven. She was not blood family and she was the only consistent person outside that that I knew, unquestionably, loved me. As a friend, sure, but it was love. A connected bond. Making her sad was unacceptable.
So I stayed alive to suffer. I still believed things would be easier if I were dead, but I didn’t pursue it. But I thought about it.
I made friends with Quirky, the girl in the room next door and one of my residents. She liked to read vampire romance novels. She leant me her Anita Blake books.
This was a pivotal time. It was a dark, gory series, featuring an angry heroine slowly losing her faith. She started out very close-minded and gradually became more open. I know it’s a popular fiction series and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, but it was also my first real introduction to BDSM. Dominance and submission were a large feature of were-animal groups and the wereleopards in particular were into the BDSM scene.
I wasn’t going to kill myself, but once I found out it was an option, I wanted someone to hurt me. I wanted pain. Pain was calming, steadying. But, there are different kinds of pain. For me, there are at least three distinct types. The calming type is punishment pain. It doesn’t feel good or bad, it just helps me calm down. The second is pain for pleasure. The third is pain that just hurts. Stubbing toes is still unpleasant. But I knew pain could feel good. I needed someone to inflict it on me. I could only achieve the calming pain on my own. I needed someone else for pain to be pleasurable. I wanted it so badly. I wanted, like Nathaniel, to be taken care of. I could have been a housewife and happy. Someone to keep me and hurt me.
Vampire and were-animal dynamics naturally mimicked aspects of this dynamic and I became obsessed with them. I caught up in Anita Blake and went through several other series.
My death fantasies now had sexual fantasies to keep them company. Well, BDSM fantasies would be more accurate.
I scraped by in my classes. I completed my RA responsibilities. I did enough to get by, but little else. All extra time and effort was spent on the crippling guilt and reading up on my new interest.
To be fair, this was also my first exposure to polyamory, although I didn’t have a name for the concept at the time.
Cereal applied and was accepted as an RA for the spring semester. There were only a couple of positions opening, so he was placed in my dorm. Strange. I don’t remember which floor he was on. Maybe four? I now had to see him at all meetings and watch him interact and become more popular with the rest of the staff. I don’t care about popularity, but it did hurt that they didn’t give a shit about me. Not a lot, since I don’t have appropriate feelings, but mostly function as an extension of the self-hatred and worthlessness I carried around.
I was able to visit Twin at her college maybe once a semester. I didn’t own a car, so it was whatever ride I could procure at a given time. She was an animation major and her floor was the art kid floor. Everyone knew each other, no one locked their door and they all liked playing videogames together. When I came, I got introduced around (and probably forgot all their names—there were just too many) and went to the dining hall with the large group. It was different. Safe.
I held her hand as we walked down the street and didn’t worry if anyone would guess my secrets. If they did, what did it matter? They knew no one I knew except Twin. When I spent the night, we would squeeze together on the tiny dorm bed and I would snuggle my head in the crook of her shoulder. We hugged and snuggled on a regular basis. It was peaceful. It was only ever for a weekend at a time.
I don’t know if it was isolation and loneliness, but when I was still at my college, I started to feel like I was destined to lose everything I cared about.
I wondered if my family would die in a car accident. Maybe they would all be traveling somewhere and I would be going to meet them, but they would die en route. And then I would be truly alone. Maybe we would go to visit my extended family in another state and everyone would die except me. Unlikely, sure. But I thought about it happening. It would have been awful, but then at least what I was feeling would make sense. I mean, sure, heartbreak can be crippling, but this was ridiculous. Other people had experienced worse tragedies and handled it better. What excuse did I have for drowning this way? If something happened to my family, then it would fit. Then I could make sense.
I didn’t want it to happen, but I fatalistically expected it.
The one that really got to me though was Twin. She was the one I couldn’t stand to make sad. She was the most important person to me. So she was in the most danger. I became convinced that she was going to die. That one day I would get a call from her mother informing me that something had happened. I didn’t know for sure what, but the more I thought about it, the more I expected her to be stabbed to death in an alley. Two thugs. They’d try to rob her, maybe succeed, stab her and then leave her to die.
Sometimes I imagined I was there to defend her. She might still die, but I would have seen their faces, so I could avenge her. I thought about how I would torture them for taking her from me.
I would need a soundproof basement somewhere deserted. I would chain them from the ceiling and to the floor so that I would have access to the whole body. I’d keep them alive for as long as possible. I would use a knife. Cut the skin and see what sounds the person would make. If they’d groan or whimper. Or maybe stare defiantly. I could practice skinning. I’m not a hunter and I’ve never hurt anyone like that, so I would not be good at it. I’d start with the legs and peel layers of flesh until I reached muscle. Slowly filet my way down to the bone. See if he would scream or beg. I would bottle his tears in a vial. Break fingers, cut cheeks. I would satisfy my curiosity and experiment. Listen for guttural or high-pitched tones. Revel in sobs.
You see, I rejected Christianity. I was lost, with no God. I was not going to heaven. But Twin was. If she died, then that would be the last time I would have with her. We were destined for separation in the afterlife. Anyone who took our last moments away in this life, I would punish.
I was still good, still following society’s rules, but if something happened to her, why should I bother? Or at least, that was my logic.
I thought a lot about torture, pain, suffering and being alone.
Everything about me flipped upside down. I rejected Christianity. God had rejected homosexuality, so he could not embrace who I was. I hated the rules, the obsessive demands and control. How everything should be his, but failure was mine to claim. I could not take the system. Every social interaction was a nightmare of: Does this make him angry? or Should I step back to help? They’re upset; do I stay silent, offer assistance or just leave? My every move was brainwashed control. That was the road God wanted me to follow. To recruit others to his cause and show interest in only his work. I felt like an empty shell. Someone who wasn’t even real. It stopped having deeper meaning and felt like a prison that siphoned away the essence of me until nothing was left.
But without God as a compass, what was I? My whole life was spent following his rules and his purpose? Now I was bisexual, suffering from guilt, surviving through violent fantasies and entirely without purpose.
What was the point of living without purpose?
I mention this because it wasn’t only heartbreak. It wasn’t only an ended relationship. I slowly erased all the pieces of myself accidentally. All the important cornerstones of a personality—religion, sexual orientation, moral values, romantic relationship—had changed.
How did I survive?
The truth is, I didn’t.
So much guilt and miserable self-hatred. Waking up every day and wondering, again, what the point was of getting out of bed… It ground me up like a mortar and pestle.
When I look back and think about that first year apart, my junior year, and who I am today compared to who I was, I think of the girl I used to be as dead. She doesn’t exist anymore. I am no longer the sweet, innocent, naïve girl who believes in everyone’s potential and wants the best for everyone. Who believes that something being wrong is reason enough not to do it.
I became someone new.
After a semester of Cereal on the same staff as me, I went home for the summer. I worked my same summer job with Twin. The only place I had sanity or smiles was with her. I don’t really remember much else from that time.
Just that the guilt was as crushing as ever. That I hated myself as much as ever. My thoughts continued circling in their horrible, constant spirals.
I remember towards the end of the movie “Serenity,” River falls to her knees in the square at the dead city. She spouts out a string of Chinese and ends with “Please God make me a stone.” I thought a lot about how much I identified with that. I wanted more than almost anything to stop feeling.
But somehow, I kept breathing.