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This is going to be a dark and depressing diary. It is a manifestation of one of the after effects of severe child abuse. I wrote this to get it off my chest. I can’t see that it would benefit anyone reading it, so I don’t recommend you do so. If you proceed, don’t say I didn't warn you.

I believe I am going through The Dark Night of the Soul. This phrase is the title of a poem written by St. John of the Cross. St. John considers it a kind of purgatory you pass though on your path to God. But for me, a more accurate way to describe it is a Hell on Earth you endure before you die. What happens after that, if anything, is anybody’s guess. Some might think this is just depression, and maybe it is. But I've lived with it off and on for most of my life, even though I’m on some pretty heavy duty antidepressants. Hell on Earth is as close as I can come to describe it.

I've noticed three distinct modes of life; Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Let me start with Purgatory, because I spend most of my time there.

Purgatory for me is a nearly meaningless existence, where I usually feel nothing but an occasional bout of anger; no joy, sadness, fear, or anything else. If you ask me how I’m feeling, I will usually honestly tell you that I don’t know. I’m kind of like an automaton. I've always been like this. I can remember when the original Star Trek series was on and wishing I was more like Mr. Spock. He was (supposedly) emotionless, but he was also able to function in society, something I couldn't do at the time. I've since learned that trick.

Heaven is blissful, so blissful that it brings tears to my eyes, because I don’t think that I can contain the bliss, that it will kill me, and I’m OK with that. That has only ever happened twice. The first was after a man asked for money for gas for his car, and he offered me a ride to a gas station so that I could buy him some. This seems like a pretty mundane event, but it was monumental to me. Up until that time, I'd never had a positive experience with men. Quite the contrary, in fact. But I'd been doing a lot of Byron Katie work, including the School for The Work, and my intuition told me to trust him, even though this was in a pretty rough neighborhood near Gallaudet University in northeast DC. I got in his car and rode to the station. On the way there, he said "I know you don't trust me...", and I replied, "I got into your car, didn't I?". His reply was, "that's true." After we got there,  I bought him the gas, and as I walked on, It happened. It didn't last long, no more than a minute, but it was quite intense. It told me that there was something more to this life than the nothingness I usually felt. I continued my Byron Katie work in hopes of being like that more often.

The second time was a few months ago. I was at a retreat for boys and their mentors. It began the first night, and lasted the whole weekend. Not only was it blissful, but it came with a profound feeling of peace. I had never experience peace before, but I’d read about it, and I was pretty sure that was what I was feeling.  The experience ended the following Monday, and that evening, I tried to kill myself with alcohol. I learned what the term “blind drunk” really means. I drank half a bottle of bourbon in one go. I did that because I had learned a lesson. The worst, and cruelest, room in Hell is where you can see, and occasionally experience heaven, but you can never live there. To my mind, not knowing what Heaven was like was better than experiencing it for days and then having it taken away. Until that time, I didn't realize just how much pain I was in, because I was in it all the time. How can a fish expect to appreciate what being without water is like until it is taken away? Until that time, I thought that Purgatory was nothingness. But I was wrong. Purgatory is filled with (relatively) low level emotional pain all the time, except when I am sleeping and not dreaming. Now, if I happen to wake up slowly, I can feel it kick in as I regain consciousness. I didn't want to continue living that way, so I drank the bourbon.

Hell takes torment to a whole new level. In Hell, everything is torment. Nothing is beautiful. Nothing has meaning. In Hell, no one will mourn when I die. No one will even notice. I have no kids, and I never will, so no one will survive me. Everything is futile. There’s no point in trying to save a doomed planet, so why try? Bad people always win. They don’t have to follow the rules. It’s easy to win that way. Hell is the kind of place where I give someone a gift at a party, and they turn around and regift it without opening it. Hell is a place where I KNOW that I am evil and everyone knows it too. I can tell by the way they look at me. Hell is where my spouse can’t take it anymore.  I’m never fun to be around. Hell is where I wish I were dead, but I don’t have the energy or courage to do it myself. Hell was for children like me.

I've come to realize that Purgatory is just a slightly less awful room in Hell. In Purgatory, I have a killer sense of humor. I can make nearly anyone laugh, but me. Ask Aji earlier today. Purgatory is where I can forgive anyone anything they have ever done to me, because they are redeemable. But I can’t forgive myself, because I am not. There is no redemption for me. I guess I’m fortunate to live most of my life in Purgatory. But I have no choice in the matter. I have to stay in the Hell Room from time to time. Like now.

I've been through this many times. During the first 10 of 20+ years of recovery from childhood sexual abuse, I was in the Hell Room nearly all the time. Now, it’s rare that I visit. I will probably leave the room soon. It’s hard to say when. I don’t seem to have any control over it. But I will leave, and enter my Purgatory, and be grateful for the numbness. I know I’ll have to visit the Hell Room again, because I always do. Eventually.

Epilogue:

I've left the Hell Room, for now. Thanks, Aji. I owe you a debt more profound than you can know. I've heard that saints are those that have the ears of deity. I believe you are one such. [Are you embarrassed yet? If not, I have more.]

Originally posted to What's the male equivalent of a DIVA? on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by House of LIGHTS.

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