Tag Archive | suicide

A Psychopath’s Responsibility

I’ve been asked repeatedly my thoughts on the girl who cajoled her boyfriend into killing himself, and I’ve been hesitant to really say much on the subject, but I’ve given the matter enough thought now. So strap in–we’re going to cover many different angles very quickly.

Prison?

Whether the girl is guilty of murder or not, prison is not the answer, because two wrongs don’t make a right. Whatever the girl may or may not be guilty of, prison is not the answer. So it goes without saying that, whatever my thoughts on what the girl did, I am not saying that she should be kidnapped and imprisoned against her will by the state.

With That Said…

I’m frankly stunned by the number of libertarians I’m seeing who express the sentiment that the girl bears absolutely no responsibility for the guy’s death, and, without being overly generalizing, I suspect that most of these people have never witnessed nor experienced psychological abuse. It should go without saying, though, that psychological abuse… is abuse. Not only is psychological abuse abuse, but it’s a critical tool in the psychopath’s toolbox, if not the most important tool at their disposal. It is, after all, psychological abuse that prevents men and women in violent relationships from leaving. It is what causes one to continually go back to the abuser, no matter how flagrant the abuses are. I’ve written about this before, having gone through it with a psychopath, and won’t spend a lot of time on it here.

I’ll say, however, that only someone who is ignorant of the damage that a psychopath can do to a person’s mind could allow someone to absolve psychopaths of the consequences of their psychological abuse. It is psychological abuse that causes teens to kill themselves. It is psychological abuse that causes transgender and gay teens to kill themselves. Psychological abuse, while not as obviously a violation of the NAP as punching someone yourself, clearly is a form of violence. I would argue that it’s a more horrific form of violence than physical abuse, because it is the psychological abuse that causes victims of violence to return to their abuser, and that causes kids in abusive homes to believe they are wicked and filled with demons, even if they have done nothing wrong, which may manifest in the person’s mind for decades to come, longer after the scars of any physical violence have healed.

It was long-term psychological abuse that caused me to be in the third grade and begging a devout Christian friend to stand before me and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan” to exorcise the demons from me–demons that I firmly believed possessed me because of the desires and needs that I had to repress. It was that same psychological abuse that caused me to be in my late 20s before I was able to come to terms with something that had been true at least since I was three years old and hiding my underwear so that I had an excuse to wear my sister’s. More than two decades of self-loathing, doubt, confusion, strife, and suicide attempts followed before I was able to come to terms with everything, and the psychological, religiously-motivated abuse is the reason why–a fact to which the scars on my wrists will testify.

I was in the fifth grade, I think, the first time I attempted to hang myself. Young and inexperienced, I used a braided leather belt. It snapped. For the next several years, I cut myself regularly. They were not suicide attempts by any means, but neither were they cries for attention; I did everything that I could to hide them. I wouldn’t be able to explain why I did it, but I did. My body is marked with scars from razor blades. My wrists, my upper arms, my chest, my legs… And, of course, there were the sincere attempts, the hospitalization in a behavioral ward, and all that fun stuff.

Testaments to the tremendous damage that extended psychological abuse can cause.

If you don’t think that the girl who texted her boyfriend and stayed on the phone with him as he cried out and choked to death bears any responsibility for that, then you don’t have any ground to stand on to lament what my father and grandmother did to me, because they are two manifestations of the same thing: psychological abuse.

The Psychopath’s Toolkit

The psychopath is an expert at manipulation. David Karesh, the Church of Scientology, and countless other cults around the world are experts at manipulation, but there are also those whose ambitions are smaller, and bloodlust more controlled. They seek out damaged people and then destroy them. They know exactly how to worm their way into your mind, and how to bend you to their will.

If you think you’re immune to it, you’re not.

The only thing a person can do to arm themselves against it is to gain knowledge in the psychopath’s tactics, to learn the manipulation techniques, to stay alert of them. However, in learning those techniques, a person will find out exactly how much damage a psychopath can do to a person’s mind, and I find it hard to believe, to be completely honest, that anyone aware of the manner in which a psychopath can manipulate a person’s mind and destroy their agency would go on to deny that the psychopath has responsibility for what this destroyed person does.

Where shall we draw the line?

Is it morally wrong to type out “kys” in World of Warcraft’s Trade Chat? Should a person be considered guilty of murder if, having typed that out to someone, that person then kills themselves?

Why do we have to draw a line?

“One size fits all” justice is fundamentally flawed, because the circumstances of actions matter, infinitely more than the actions themselves.

If I push someone down, and they break their arm, then I am guilty of assault.

However, if I push someone down and out of the way of an oncoming train, and they break their arm, then I am a hero.

What’s the difference? There isn’t one. In both scenarios, I pushed the person, they fell, and they broke their arm. The only thing that’s different are the circumstances. Since the circumstances are different, the hypothetical result if I had done nothing have changed. If I had done nothing in the first example, the person would have continued on through their day without a broken arm–a superior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. If I did nothing in the second example, though, the person would have died–an inferior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. We are comparing hypotheticals here, and we’re making our assessment of morality based around that. That is always how we assign our moral values.

The alternative, had this girl not taken her actions, are that the guy would still be alive. Because of her actions, he is dead.

I see no way of escaping the conclusion that she is responsible for that. We’re not talking about someone who opted not to run into a burning house to try to rescue someone else. We’re not talking about hateful children who laughed as they watched someone drowned, and who couldn’t have saved the drowning victim anyway*. We’re talking about a girl who explicitly told her psychologically vulnerable and long-term victim of psychological abuse boyfriend to get back in the vehicle and finish dying. I am stunned that so many people are arguing that she did nothing wrong simply because she didn’t physically hold the door shut.

Group Responsibility?

While discussing this with someone on Facebook, someone said that only the individual is responsible for their actions. I pointed out that, by this reasoning, Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust, and Stalin was not responsible for the murder of twenty-five million Christian farmers. To my shock, she said that was correct–the individuals who carried out those orders were responsible.

I don’t deny that the individuals who committed the actions are responsible. I’ve pointed this out in the past. However, the person who gave the command is absolutely as responsible. That’s what it literally means to have authority, to have power over someone, to have the responsibility of making decisions for someone. The psychopath takes this power slowly and with systemic psychological abuse, but they take the power all the same. Even so, the brainwashing tactics of the military are shockingly similar to those used by psychopaths: destroy their individuality and make them dependent on the command structure. That’s at least as much the point of boot camp as is physical training. The stated purpose is to break people down as individuals and build them back up as a part of a machine. This is done through psychological abuse.

No one is saying “Group responsibility.”

I am saying that all individuals who play a role in making sure that an action is undertaken bear responsibility for that action being undertaken. Quite the opposite, I’m the one arguing for individual responsibility. I’m not absolved of responsibility if I order a friend to kill someone and that friend does it. “Woah! I didn’t kill that person!” I could argue, and these NAP-advocates, evidently (the ones with whom I’ve spoken directly) would agree. I didn’t kill that person.

Even though I’m literally the one who caused it to happen…

Yes, the soldier who drops the bomb bears responsibility for that. So does the commander who ordered the bomb to be dropped, though.

“They could just disobey orders” is an inadequate answer. And it’s true that, if everyone refused to obey orders, war would cease to exist. But who is advocating group responsibility now? For the individual, refusing to obey orders results in arrest, kidnapping, and imprisonment. Through coercive means, that individual has most, if not all, responsibility for the action waived, in the same way that we American citizens bear no responsibility for what the state does with our tax money because, through coercive means, we are forced to obey and pay taxes. You can’t have it both ways, where Americans aren’t to blame for how tax dollars are used because we could just choose to not pay taxes, but other individuals are to blame for the results of actions they take under duress.

To say that only the person who personally executes a given action is responsible for that action is short-sighted and extremely narrow. It is tunnel vision on the minutae of the action. There is a lot of cause and effect that goes into every single action that a person takes, and not all of that is the person’s fault–much of it is beyond that person’s control. To suggest that only the person who personally executes the action is responsible is to say that a man who wakes one day to find a gun to his head and someone telling him, “If you don’t find and kill one person right now, I will kill you,” is the only person responsible for the action he commits, and that the person who put the gun to his head and gave him that ultimatum bears no responsibility.

“He still made the choice, though… He could have chosen to just die. He didn’t. He chose to murder someone, so that’s on him!”

It’s such a narrow way of viewing… reality. Cause and effect. Actions and consequences. Responsibility.

Suicide Isn’t a Violation of the NAP

No, it isn’t, and a person of sound mind has every right to take their own life. I’ve argued before, and will again, that suicide is not indicative of mental illness. However, this guy in question was clearly mentally ill. He was clearly unstable and incapable of making the decision to kill himself. If he was capable of making that decision alone, he wouldn’t have gotten out of the vehicle, for fuck’s sake. That he did get out of the vehicle is ipso facto proof that he did not have the agency required to soundly make the decision to kill himself.

I think a lot of the people arguing that the girl didn’t do anything “that wrong” don’t know what the girl did. They seem to think she just sent a few text messages. If only that was the extent of what she did… But it isn’t. He got out of the vehicle and called her, and she told him to get back in and finish killing himself. Then she stayed on the phone with him while he cried out in agony and died, because she wanted to ensure that he did see it through. That’s a FAR cry from typing out “kys” in a chatroom.

Through the verbal persuasion that is the gift of the psychopath, she held him in that vehicle until he died.

You can’t possibly think that a guy who got out of a vehicle, having decided that he didn’t want to go through with killing himself, called his girlfriend, and then climbed back in and stayed on the phone with her while he died was “of sound mind” to be making decisions about whether he wanted to live or die. The girl was clearly a poison to him.

If someone called you and confessed that they had been about to kill themselves, but gotten out of the vehicle, would you, under any circumstances, tell them to get back in, and then stay with them on the phone while they died? Absolutely not. Every single one of us would say, “Where are you? I’m coming to get you. Stay on the phone with me while I drive to you. Don’t get back in the vehicle.”

Because we’re not psychopaths.

No, we shouldn’t let the state set precedents in its One Size Fits All legal system that would allow it to prosecute anyone who ever said “kill yourself” in a text message, phone call, or chat room. Yet there’s an enormous gap between these things and what this girl did. And just as we should not allow the state to set precedents like that, neither should we set the precedent that psychopaths are not responsible for the consequences of their psychological abuse because it technically doesn’t include physical assault.

But abuse is abuse.

The NAP does not specify that violence has to be physical.

* Those who are not trained divers or trained lifeguards should never attempt to rescue a drowning person. Cold though it is to say, attempting it will ensure only that two people die. Drowning people thrash wildly, panicking, and are extremely likely to knock you unconscious. If you do not have a lifejacket and a rope or boat, you should never attempt to rescue a drowning person yourself, unless you’ve explicitly been trained to be a fantastic swimmer. Not only that, but if you do manage to get behind the person without being knocked unconscious, do you know how heavy another human being is when you’re pulling them through water? The average person doesn’t have the stamina to swim a hundred yards alone, much less when dragging someone else through the water.

Suicide is Not For the Coward

So the lead singer of alternative rock band Linkin Park is in the news, because he killed himself by hanging. While I haven’t liked Linkin Park since their first album, and since I was in the 9th grade, a lot of people are coming forward to call Chester a coward for committing suicide, primarily because it means he left six children behind.

Regardless of whether you approve of his choice, it is stupid, and a horrific misrepresentation of the situation, to call someone a coward because they killed themselves.

Suffering is Relative

First, it must be pointed out that suffering is relative, and none of us has any insight into the inner turmoil within anyone else, and so none of us have the authority or information to accurately assess whether the person chose the “easy” route of suicide and was wrong to do so. We simply don’t know–because we can’t know–how a person feels, unless they tell us, and Chester did come pretty close to that, through his lyrics. These lyrics, incidentally, were those that angst-filled teens adored and identified with, because their own internal suffering was reflected back to them. But that isn’t really important.

Courage & Cowardice

I know many people who have “attempted” suicide. I’m among them, and the scars on my wrist bear it out. I was hospitalized in a behavioral ward several years ago because of it. Even after extensive research, I still didn’t cut deeply enough to hit the veins–no, seriously, the veins in your wrist are much deeper than you’re thinking–and I didn’t have any guns at the time. Today, I know a scary amount of information about suicide. Because of this, I’m well aware that the recent old Republican who “killed himself” with helium actually did commit suicide, and that there couldn’t possibly have been any foulplay. I know that, because I once owned a helium tank for exactly that purpose.

But I never did it.

Why not?

Because, as a method of suicide, it’s almost instantaneous. There is no time for second thoughts. Once you exhale and lower that bag over your head, that’s it. You pass out, and about half an hour later, you die, unconscious. I’m simply not struggling with depression badly enough to pursue that en sincera. I don’t want to die.

With very few exceptions, that is the same thing that nearly everyone who “attempts suicide” decides. There’s a reason that successful suicide rates are low. It’s not an easy thing to do. Substantial biological programming and the desire to survive outweigh most forms of depression, and, even when the depression is heavier, the person must face head-on their fear of death.

Anyone who has ever sat there with the barrel of a gun in their mouth, the blade of a razor against their wrists, a noose around their neck, or any other such situation and who still lives faced their fear of death head-on.

And they buckled.

They can make all the excuses they want. They can say that they realized that they were loved. They can say that they realized their problems would pass. They can say any-damned-thing that they want. But I know it, and they know it: the reason they live is that they are cowards. They stood on the precipice of oblivion and feared to jump, and so they backed away from the cliff. Some of these people are now calling Chester a coward because he didn’t back down from the precipice of oblivion.

Are you kidding me?

An Animal’s Instincts of Self-Preservation

There is tremendous resistance to death. Anyone who has seen wild animals chew off their own limbs (or humans saw off their own limbs) to escape from deadly situations knows that there is a powerful Will to Live inside every organism. Humans and non-humans are capable of incredible things in the interest of self-preservation, something that modern “horror” movies love exploiting for shock value. Put two people in a room together and tell them that one of them must kill the other, and then the survivor will be free, and they will almost immediately attempt to kill each other (Fun note: this is what Nietzsche described as Middle Class Morality). Saw off their own leg? No problem, once they have pursued other options.

Here’s a cold, hard fact for you: almost everyone out there–at least 99.999% of people–would cry and beg profusely as someone else lowered a noose around their neck. They would do anything, say anything, and promise anything to be spared. Disgusting amounts of tears and snot would run down their faces as they panicked, prayed to every god they could think of, and begged everyone nearby to “Please, I’ll do anything…” These are the same people calling Chester a coward because he lowered the noose around his own neck.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t true that, evidently, that’s how they see it.

There is an enormous difference between “thinking very hard about suicide” and gathering the means to do it, and actually proceeding with it. Even if the attempt is a failure, there is such an enormous gap between “thinking about suicide” and “legitimately trying to kill oneself” that most people can’t even fathom the divide.

It’s the same divide that exists between people who imagine how brave they would be if they faced down a criminal with a gun, and the people who have been there, and who gladly handed over their wallets and were terrified. Fear, after all, is what keeps people alive. It’s what kept human beings out of the darkness where there were lions, wild dogs, and hippos. That same exact fear keeps people from putting the gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger. It’s easy to say “I could have. I would have. I just changed my mind.”

In fact, it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer says he’s going to build “levels” in his apartment, and Jerry bets him that it will never happen. In the end, Kramer renegs on the bet, and says that Jerry didn’t win, because, “I could have done it. I just didn’t want to.” Jerry vainly attempts to remind him, “That’s the bet! The bet is that you wouldn’t do it.” Kramer again reiterates, “But I could have.” Frustrated, Jerry says, “The bet wasn’t that you couldn’t. The bet was that you wouldn’t,” but it’s to no avail.

This is what people are saying when they say that they could have committed suicide, and they would have–if they hadn’t considered the loved ones they were leaving behind. The loved ones that they remembered were the panicked product of innate biological tendencies within an animal to preserve itself because it was afraid. It doesn’t matter what their reason for changing their mind is–why were they considering such things in the first place? By that point, they are already second-guessing whether they want to commit suicide. What propelled that? What caused them to stop and think about anything instead of just taking the gun, putting it in their mouths, and pulling the trigger? Why weren’t they just thinking about that?

Because their brain was desperately afraid and trying to stop to them using the last tool it had at its disposal. Compelling one to stop and think about all the loved ones being left behind is how it does that.

Anyone who ever attempted suicide–or “thought about” attempting suicide–and who still lives is a coward. They stood on the edge of the precipice, and they backed down. They can offer up any excuse they want, but, at the end of the day, what stopped them was fear. There’s no other reason why they’d have stopped to consider loved ones in the first place. That’s the brain’s last defense mechanism against self-destruction.

Consider this: the person who is about to commit suicide and stops because they think of the pain and suffering it will bring the loved ones left behind are aware, at least in some ways, that the fact that they even care about the pain and suffering they’ll leave behind will vanish the moment they’re dead. Sure, “If I commit suicide, I’ll leave behind so much pain and suffering.” Yet, also sure, “But I’ll be dead, so… there won’t be even a single solitary second of my existence where I feel the pain of having left people behind by killing myself, because I’ll have killed myself.” They didn’t think about that, though. I’d bet that thought didn’t occur to the overwhelming majority of people who attempted/thought about suicide. And why not? Because their brain was looking for ways to talk them out of it, not looking for ways to talk them into it.

Thoughts & Control

We tend to think of “our thoughts” as something we control, and our brains as something that is fully at our mercy, and that’s simply not true. Sentience is a curious thing, but your brain absolutely does things to try to convince “you” of things. The human brain is countless parts communicating with one another, not some collective unit that the “I” controls. You’re breathing right now–you are not in control of that. Your heart is beating right now. You can no more make your heart stop beating than (and this is important) you can make yourself stop thinking. You don’t control your thoughts. A thought comes when it wants to, not when “you” want it to. When some part of your brain decides to generate it, that’s when the thought occurs. You can no more create that thought than you can stop it. It’s coming. The only choice you have is how “you” deal with that thought. Whatever you are thinking about when the clock strikes noon after reading this, you won’t have any power to prevent.

The “I” takes these thoughts coming in from various parts of the brain, and assembles them into some form it can process, and then makes a decision. Maybe the “I” can control the decision that it makes, and maybe it can’t, because the decision itself is merely a product of the information sent to it by thoughts that it cannot dictate–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the “I” doesn’t control what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. Even extensive training by Buddhist monks cannot allow one to indefinitely take control of what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. However focused the Buddhist monk is, and however in control of their thoughts they are, the moment they have to get back to life, they surrender control back to other parts of their brain. What will they think about while they slice potatoes in the monastery? While they till the ground?

You can do it, too. Think about an elephant, and try to keep thinking about an elephant. How long does it take you to realize that you’re not longer thinking about an elephant? Your thoughts will stray–a conga line of random thoughts perhaps not even related, until finally you’re thinking about John McCain’s brain cancer and realize, after forty seconds, “Oh, shit, I was supposed to be thinking about an elephant!” and direct your thoughts back to a pachyderm. Try to keep that elephant in your mind all day, as you go about work, as you eat lunch. You can’t do it. No one can. It requires exhaustive energy and focus to control one’s thoughts, and it simply cannot be done for any substantial period of time. You may think about the elephant several times an hour throughout the day, but through those instances, you’ll think about colleagues, food, friends, family, driving, money, and countless other things that you can’t control.

Those thoughts of loved ones that the person contemplating suicide has… They can’t control those thoughts, either. The question we have to ask is why the brain generated those thoughts. Why did some part of one’s brain conjure up an image of a son or nephew, and say, “But look how sad he’ll be…” and create vivid imaginings of the future of that child, raised without his father or mother? We can find the answer easily, by asking “What did the conjuration of those thoughts achieve?”

Well, it achieved causing the “I” to back out of committing suicide.

Why would a part of the brain want that?

Because it’s afraid of losing existence.

Conclusion

Maybe you don’t approve of what Chester did. Maybe you think it’s screwed up he left his family behind, and maybe you just think that suicide is immoral (I’ll save that for another day). Maybe you’re more like me, and you don’t really care one way or another, but you’d like it if there wasn’t so much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding suicide. Making the statement, though, that Chester was “wrong” to make the choice that he did is saying “He valued release from his pain more highly than he valued the pain he was leaving with others. His values are wrong, and the pain he left others is much greater than whatever pain he felt.”

I hope we can all immediately see what an asinine statement that is.

We don’t know what pain he felt, or what his personal suffering entailed. We can never know what it was like to live within his head and to feel what he felt. We can never know how deeply in That Place he was. Neither can we know how his children and wife/ex-wife will feel about it. We can guess, and we’d be right to some degree when we’d guess “They’ll be really sad,” but we can’t quantify that. We can’t even quantify our own suffering. Ask any person how much hardship and suffering they face and I’d bet wholeheartedly that you’ll see a graph identical to what we’d expect based on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Everyone will rate their personal suffering and past hardships at 7.5, or thereabouts. I’d love to see a scientific survey done on this. In fact, I’m going to do one.

But if we cannot properly assess the value of his suffering and how bad it was, or the suffering of his family and how bad it’s going to be, how can we justify making the arrogant claim that he was wrong to make the choice that he did?

I’ve got to figure something out. I’ve got to move, or depression is going to kill me. Despair already peeks its ugly head around the corner, and I’m still months out from the birthday that is going to wreck me no matter what I do. I need to make progress. If I wake up where I am, in this same situation, on that day, then it’s unlikely I’ll ever wake again.

Yet I’ve spent the last year trying to make progress, and nothing has panned out. No employers have called me back, and I’ve exhausted the local jobs with standing applications already. I’m dying to hear back from an agent, but even if that happens, it won’t be that they’ll be ready to publish it–it will be that they want to read the rest of it, and then make a decision. There’s just no way that will happen before That Day.

And I need it to.

I’ve asked everyone in my family, but the only ones who have that kind of money are my uncle and aunt, and they won’t do it. I’ve sincerely thought about loading up into my car and being homeless in Vegas while I seek a job, and I probably would if not for my cats. I’m dying here, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

What options do I have here?

None.

I’ve thought about selling my car and buying a plane ticket, but that wouldn’t really do me any favors, because I’d run out of money too quickly relying on Uber and walking to get around. Besides, I wouldn’t get that much for this car. Not enough to do what I need to do.

Each day, those shotgun shells look more tempting, because nothing is happening. No matter what I do, nothing is moving forward. And when I think about how the girl whose impatience is the primary cause of this has the audacity to stalk me and peek in, I become furious.

For the past three days, I’ve been perpetually on the verge of tears, trying not to think, trying not to face life. I’m not as feminine as I want to be. I’m broke. I’ve got no prospects toward getting the hell out any time soon. I’ve tried everything a person can do, except giving up.

www.gofundme.com/transgendermove is the only hope I have.

 

Into the Labyrinth

I’ve sunken into depression.

“Depression.” I hate that word. It’s nothing against the word itself. It’s how everyone uses the word. It’s like OCD. Everyone uses it, no idea what it means. They just want to be special little snowflakes. “I’m OCD about this,” they say. Because they watched a few episodes of Monk and think OCD is fun. It’s not. And they do the same with depression. They think it’s like “Upset Plus,” like it’s a tier above sad or something. I hear that so often. “Just feeling my depression,” people say.

“Oh?” I like to ask. “Do you know why you’re upset?”

“Yeah, it’s because–”

Then it’s not depression. It’s an emotional reaction to environmental stimuli. That’s not depression.

I would have killed myself a dozen times in the last six months if it wasn’t for my cats. That was why I left them in Vegas, after all. And then that was why I paid a guy to bring them to me on his flight. When I left Vegas, I figured I had about a 30% chance of actually continuing the drive, not stopping and going into the desert with my gun–

One shot and the world gets smaller.

But then I decided to survive, and I needed my cats to help me do that. We don’t really have a normal relationship. They don’t behave toward me like most cats do toward people. It’s hard to explain. I know how cats act toward people, though, and then there are these two. And they’ve kept me alive because I don’t want to leave them alone.

Who else is there? My family shuns me.

There are my friends, of course, but as I know damned well–life goes on.

It’s probably a good thing that I have my cats. Life wouldn’t just go on for them. And most people can say that about other humans. Life hasn’t just gone on for Monte’s wife or John’s wife. Life doesn’t just go on for someone when a sibling dies. It does, but it’s not the same. One of my really good friends seems to be losing his mind, too, so that’s something. My best friend through most of my teenage and adult life, who is a swinger himself, wants nothing to do with me now. I don’t really care about that, because he was kinda a loser anyway, but it just goes to show.

There’s no point in writing this, and even less point in posting it.

That Place – A Short… Thing…

I wouldn’t really call this a short story. I guess it technically is one, but it’s only like 1200 words, and that’s extremely short. This was written before I started having severe problems with brevity, though, an issue that culminated in The Anvil, which is a novel I’ve written that is longer than the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy combined. Still, I guess it counts as a short story, but not publishing material. I found it earlier while looking through the thousands and thousands of Word documents on my old hard drive. Absolutely no editing has been done.

She slid backwards in the tub slowly, allowing the warm embrace of the water to crawl up her flesh until stopping just short of her face. She’d sealed the doorway with towels and switched off the lights, and her environment now was nothing but darkness and silence. It was a weight that she had never experienced, and, for a moment, she was afraid and wanted to turn the lights on, but it didn’t take long to banish her fears back to the part of her heart from which they came.

She released a sigh that was far more similar to the release of an orgasm than to breathing. It was the sigh of exhaustion—the sigh of intense effort and expended energies that all led to a single and short euphoric moment.

This was her moment. This was her release. And while she couldn’t actually see her release, she knew it was happening. She could feel her energy seeping from her body, as though it had been trying to escape all along, and she was finally allowing it to run free. It rushed out with the haste of criminals fleeing a prison during a riot.

And then she saw in the darkness That Place. That Place that she never wanted to see again. She didn’t know where it was, she didn’t know how she’d end up there, and she didn’t know anything about it all. All she knew was it was That Place. And in That Place was the cold. There was no warmth, no fire, and no light; there were only the cold and the darkness. There were walls. Uneven walls, like you’d expect from someone digging a deep hole. The walls certainly felt like dirt, but it was too dark to see. On some days, she could look up and see—far in the distance, at the top—a sliver of light, a tiny beacon of hope, but it was rare, and on most days: only darkness and cold.

One minute in That Place is a million years anywhere else. That Place is nothing, and it is, ultimately, everything, she learned. That Place held nothing for her to do but weep, and so she did. She wept and clawed at the walls with the fury of a caged animal, but it was to no avail. Then, some time in the future, she had no way of knowing how long, the light suddenly grew and came toward her. Everything was encapsulated by the light; she was taken in by the light. Her unadjusted eyes squeezed shut in pain, and when at last she opened them, she stood in The Field.

The Field was hardly different from That Place. It was only bigger, and instead of dark coldness, she was embraced by lighted coldness, which was no help at all, because there was still nothing to see. All around her, there was an endless expanse of the same terrain, repeating infinitely and stretching like forever in every direction. There was nothing in The Field but the opportunity to look Despair in her face, and catch for a moment the reflection in the mirror that bonded the two together.

And That Place, which she had prayed to never see again, was gone again, and she could feel the loving embrace of the water. A black veil gripped her consciousness, demanding her to sleep, but she couldn’t yet. She wanted to—it was, after all, her release—but the moment was not right.

That Place returned, as she thought it might. She didn’t want to fall asleep in That Place—she couldn’t fall asleep in That Place. It would be a sentence of forever standing at the bottom of an immeasurably deep hole, clawing at the walls, screaming with the primordial rage that fury and injustice alone sustain, and crying out to the Heavens for mercy, while knowing there would be none.

Yet there she stood—clawing at the walls while her consciousness slid from her like sand in an hourglass.

It never mattered. One minute, one day, one million years—it was all the same. There was no Time here. There was only Now, and Now could not be measured, because there was no Next or Before with which one could use to compare it.

There was only This when you were in That Place, and This is too horrible a thing for words to describe. Words are but imitations. The most elegant and descriptive of prose is nothing but an imitation, a mockery, that attempts to capture the essence of something and portray it so that another can understand or relate to what the words express. There is no word for This. There is no phrase for This.

How does one explain being trapped in a dark and narrow space, surrounding by nothing but cold, and not knowing when—if ever—you will be released? There was no hunger, no thirst, no sleep, for That Place existed in the Heart—and the Heart does not need such things. The Heart is immortal, and therefore, all experiences in That Place are immortal. Each trip to That Place could be the one that never ends, could be the one that saps away the remaining desire of a conscious spirit to continue its miserable existence, and could be the one that stands true while the energies of the blood flee from the prison of the flesh, forming a symbiotic eternity of something that tastes like forever in That Place.

Tell me—how does one convey that with such a mundane medium as words?

The word “despair” tells you nothing if you’ve never experienced true despair. And if you have experienced true despair, then you know that the word is a woefully inadequate description. The same is true of every conceivable emotion. Hopelessness is another great example. If you’ve never been truly hopeless, the word itself can tell you nothing about how it feels to be hopeless, and if you have had the misfortune of experiencing hopelessness, then you know the word is a hollow, arbitrary, and meaningless thing trying to capture and convey a depth that is simply too enormous for something so ordinary to encompass.

Nonetheless, there she was—once more in That Place, still with no idea how she got there, how she stumbled upon That Place, or what she did to deserve This. And even if she left That Place, it would mean nothing, because she would just be in The Field, then, which was just as horrifying and traumatizing as That Place…

But she couldn’t claw at the wall any longer. Something was hurting her. There was a burning. An intense burning on her wrists.

She breathed in deeply in the tub and ran a few fingers over the open wounds on her wrists, and she barely had the strength to do so. The release was coming. The inmates were free. That Place would cease to exist.

For it was Her Place, after all, wasn’t it? It belonged to no one but her. And when she was no more, Her Place would be no more. She would find release, after all, she realized, leaning back again. She was destroying That Place. That Place—that integral part of herself that she’d become lost in—that part of her that isolated and destroyed—could not exist without her. And soon, she would be released, and she would no longer exist.

All she knew was that she did not ever want to go to That Place again. There were probably other ways to ensure that, but none of which could she do alone, and she had no choice but to banish That Place alone, because it was, after all, Her Place, and no one else’s.

If you liked the story, maybe you’d like my story “Dead or Alive,” available on Amazon for 99 cents. You may also be interested in checking out my GoFundMe page. 😀