Sex. Even the word disturbs you slightly. You don’t know why, you can rationalise backwards, devise neat little psychological theories about your childhood. But there is something that cuts through those stories and tells another.
Because you are as prudish about God as you are about sex. You feel as uncomfortable attempting to pray as you do thinking about uniting with your lover. Prudishness is the same, one and other. It is the same as Adam and Eve in the garden, you realise you are naked.
Standing vulnerable before God, standing vulnerable before your lover – how different are they really? But how much more vulnerable do you find yourself before God than before your beloved? How much more hushed the tones as you strain to speak.
Oh for a crowd to hide in, or to run like a child behind the legs of your mother, holding tightly to her hand and peeking through the gaps of her fingers, as if no-one could see you there.
Even for all that, you don’t really want to be alone… why else would you be peeking?
When the family breaks up, the child is alone. He has a mother and he has a father, but his love for his mother induces guilt for the love of his father, and the love for his father bristles painfully due to the protective feelings he has toward his mother. So he is alone. There is only jarring disunity – and the self.
“Why can we not all be one again?” he thinks, “why can we not eat together, sing together, love together – as once we did?”
Must everything fall apart?
Maybe later he tries to resolve the wound by severance altogether. He rejects half of himself and clings to one story about his past. “I never had a father” he says. But the pain is obvious. The wound remains. Every day is a confrontation with that which has been severed. There is no completion without the whole, without mending the broken bond, the self made from two. The more anger at the wound, the deeper perhaps the severance, the more insistent that there must be one to blame, to hate, to expel from the self – to be whole again, but lesser.
Your mother and father lurk within you, and no amount of hate can purge them. There is only one way to heal the wound, to forgive together, love together, eat together once more.
And some wounds will never be healed… only pray and dare to hope that this one is healed, because some wounds, though longstanding and septic, still are.
When you were younger you thought madness was almost glamorous in a way. You believed that all great men were somewhat insane, all brilliant art was born of suffering and you wished to be great yourself, to taste that intensity and that unsocial stubbornness that comes with delusion.
You had no craft, but you decided life would be your canvas, and you set about attempting to make yourself the eternal outsider, swirling in chaos.
You tried, you really did, but every time you approached the precipice you withdrew. The warmth, or coldness, of human feeling always drew you back from the solitary world of the maniac. You attempted to force the matter by many means, chemistry, illumination, lack of sleep. None of it was enough, not because it couldn’t be, but because you were a coward, because you never had the heart to finish the thing. You were never fully able to betray life, to truly stand in condemnation of the normal.
And then there she was…
When she came into your life, she showed you real madness. Not the glamour of greatness achieved because or despite of it, but the pure substance, acrid and violent. There was no beauty in it, no softness, only endless terror. She had no special powers, no special charisma – not even the redemption of a quaint eccentricity. Only terror and stubbornness in equal measure, tears and threats of suicide, screaming and noises you never knew the human mouth could utter.
You would do almost anything to free her from her affliction, to ease the pain, end the suffering. That which she regurgitated upon the canvas of life should never have seen the light of day. Without poetry, without harmony. Jagged edges, disgust, terror – arranged haphazardly, as though the scribbles of a child.
Those which the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad… and now you sense a twinge of fear. What if it one day happens to you?
How could they? They’re cruel, they’re mean, they don’t know what they just said no to. You’re not so bad, right? Or maybe you are… this isn’t the first time.
You used to think you were hot stuff, you used to think you occupied if not the far right of the bell curve, at least the top 10%. Now you re-evaluate. It was probably that damn Dunning–Kruger effect. You must have misappraised yourself because you’re too incompetent to appraise yourself well. How many times has this happened? At least that many obviously superior specimens must exist. Scale it up to proportionality, you can’t be better than a low average.
Low average? Is that so bad… embrace your mediocrity maybe?
No. It is salt on the slug named Ego. You look around desperately for water, but there is nothing to quench this saline death.
You died like this many times before, somehow always forget, big yourself up again… you do not like it, but it is becoming quite familiar.
For years you avoided making any kind of commitment, no matter how trivial, because you understood the gravity of the thing. You did not pick up the weight because you might drop it and even if you didn’t you would have to carry it for life.
In a giddy fit of romanticism though, you broke with convention. You – starry eyed – declared you would carry most heavy burdens for Him for ever. You would do it all because He would be there to support you. He would give you the strength. You knew that with His help you could do it.
After the promise was made, you wavered. “Where is He?” you asked, “will He not help me bear this Cross?”
And at the wayside, there stood another. Weaker, denser, full of fear and self doubt. “Help me” he cried.
“Are you there?” you shouted to Him. Silence.
So you put down the Cross and crossed to tend the wounded. It gave you much joy – but the Cross remained, lying tattered and battered in the road. You regret dragging it this far, you regret it sitting there, taunting you, reminding you of promises broken.
“I will never leave you alone” you tell him. But now you know what you are capable of betraying, and you fear it.