A Different Apocalypse

Some say the end is near
Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon
I certainly hope we will
I sure could use a vacation from this

Bullshit three-ring circus sideshow

I was raised to believe in the end of the world. I read the Left Behind books with eagerness, and spent countless hours fantasizing about what it would be like to miss the rapture, even though I was confident in my own salvation. Though my family didn’t stockpile obsessively as many apocalyptic cults do, we took Y2K pretty seriously, setting aside water and buying plenty of bulk food and 30-hour candles that would take years to burn through. I remember vividly the moment after midnight on New Year’s Day of 2000. Everyone looked around, as if expecting something to happen, for the lights to go out. When nothing happened, I still believed firmly in the apocalypse. I just concluded that as the Bible says, nobody knows the day or time when Jesus will return.

It was only when I stopped believing in the existence of any gods whatsoever that I could finally adjust to a world without a foreseeable end – not in my lifetime, anyway. I began to write about how I felt free to live my life at last, instead of feeling like I had to be martyred at a young age for Jesus, or that my life would be cut short by the apocalypse. When you realize that god never existed the whole time, little realizations come along every day. Oh yeah, I don’t have to pray every time I eat and sleep, was a common thought at first, but it never crosses my mind anymore. The first time something bad happened to me after I became an atheist, I remember realizing that I didn’t have a fallback to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. This was a relief, because it meant god hadn’t failed to intervene in any instance where anything evil has ever happened.

But now, four years later, I have another apocalypse to face: the near-term extinction of the human animal. This apocalypse is in some ways more terrifying than a god destroying a place to create a new one. The two perspectives on the apocalypse have drastically differing results. Apocalypse-believing Christians believe that the Earth is disposable, because god created it with ease, and our souls will survive its demise. But people who recognize that climate change will soon destroy humanity believe that our habitat is not disposable at all. It will never be replaced, and there may be no trace of us except our space junk in the near future. This is heavily backed by science, which I don’t feel the need to go into here. Here’s an essay on near-term extinction, and here’s an article that says we may have only 31 years left before 90% of humanity is extinct, unless drastic measures are taken, efforts which we are nowhere close to making.

Some say a comet will fall from the sky
Followed by meteor showers and tidal waves
Followed by fault lines that cannot sit still
Followed by millions of dumbfounded dipshits
And some say the end is near
Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon
I certainly hope we will
I sure could use a vacation from this

Stupid shit
Silly shit
Stupid shit

Emotionally, I’m all over the place about the extinction of my kind. Primarily, I’m angry that I’ve had to go through two different apocalypse problems in my life. The first was the delusional one of fearsome Christians, but the second is one that my parents still insist is equally delusional: climate change is making the planet unlivable for humans. But secondarily, I feel a sense of relief. Maybe if this whole humanity thing has to end with our extinction brought on by colonial-capitalism, it deserves to go away. I listen to the above lines and tears stream down my face as I release the emotions. The system we live under is so ridiculous. We are funneling all the resources to a very few number of people, while they exploit the rest of us. It’s as simple as that.

Personally, I don’t feel that there is much hope of a future. I expect that I will be trapped in poverty for the rest of my life, always fundraising and scraping up work to get by, unless the economy collapses and money becomes irrelevant, which is also entirely possible. This life will be full of the adventure of getting to watch the world end, and that means dealing with the visceral, exhausting, hungry, and dirty components of living in the midst of human crisis. And a lot of the time, it will not feel adventurous. It’s going to be the worst thing any of us have gone through, and I am not confident that I will live for long.

One great big festering neon disaster
I’ve a suggestion to keep you all occupied:
Learn to swim. Learn to swim. Learn to swim.

I don’t think I will live long because I am filled with despair. Right now the only thing keeping me from severe suicidal ideation and total lack of executive dysfunction is medication and EMDR therapy. I don’t know if I will always have access to the medication and therapy. More than that, I am lucky to be housed right now, which is tremendously beneficial for mental health compared to having unstable shelter. My despair is based in the fact that so few people seem to care at all about climate change, and it seems unlikely that we will do anything to halt our influence on the planet.

I keep saying that humanity will go extinct and that we’re destroying our own habitat, rather than saying that the world is going to end, because the planet will survive us just fine. Other animals, especially sea animals, will survive after we are gone, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of years from now, another creature will emerge that will go farther than we ever did. I like thinking about the possibilities beyond humanity, after humanity is gone. I have hope beyond us. But it is not immediate hope. It is the deeper understanding that the course of all time has already outlived and will continue to outlive us, me.

So what I’m doing is I’m learning how to manage my mental illnesses, and learning to tread water, based on an analogy in this wonderful essay on suicidal ideation. I’m figuring out who I trust and informing myself on what I can do to help those around me to stay alive. I want for us to stick around as long as possible, so we can see the show, so we can resist the system that is destroying us. Observing the collapse will be something to experience, I have no doubt about that. I am tired of living in a police state where I have to conjure abhorrent amounts of cash for the right to shelter. I want to see it all come crashing down, and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to do just that.


‘Cause I’m praying for rain
I’m praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way.
I wanna watch it all go down…

Don’t just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.
And I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t welcome any change, my friend.

I wanna see it all come down.
Bring it down
Suck it down.
Flush it down.

(lyric source)

Identity Beyond Memoir

It’s already June, and I feel like I’m still recovering from March. Countless more important things are going on than my personal family drama, so instead of writing about it, I want to write about what it’s been like to go beyond it and establish a personal identity. It has not been easy, and I’ve been extremely impatient with my slow progress. I’ve learned to expect that life will move more slowly than I once thought – and that includes my own personal growth. I fail more often than I succeed in growing as a person. Once I am made aware of my own habits, surely I can break them immediately, I used to tell myself. Now I know that breaking habits takes months of dedicated effort.

The main reason I’ve been posting so sparsely for the past several months is something called executive dysfunction. It’s where you want to do stuff, but your brain says “no.” And that’s it, there’s no argument to be had. It’s not the same thing as mere laziness or procrastination, because while most people can motivate themselves with some ease, those with mental illnesses like depression are incapable of summoning such motivation.

Secondarily, I’ve been stepping back from saying too much because the more I learn, the more I have to still learn, and I have been wrong many times. I’m learning to approach my writing in a way that doesn’t jump to extremes and absolutes – quite the opposite of how I was taught to write, putting in “quotable quotes” and “zingers” for the reader. I don’t have all the answers, and my understanding of the world grows and morphs every day. But more than that, I have a privileged voice and I want to spend more time listening to marginalized voices about what’s important, and figure out how I can best speak up without speaking over them.

I think a lot about how unimportant my story feels. The psychological reality of the minimization of personal pain runs alongside the fact that my corner of the internet is genuinely not something many people think much about. And how many of the people who follow my blog are following my dad as well? Am I living in my father’s shadow to this day? And even with the limited perception of my own personal perspective, I know that objectively, this matter is small. Do I write about it because it’s painful for me personally, or because so many people are curious to know what my response will be?

Before I realized I had a story to tell, I wanted to be a writer, and strove to be a good one. Now that I have a story to tell, I fight with my writing, because it involves retelling the traumas I originally used writing to dissociate through. I used to narrate my life in the third person, imagining that what was happening to me was in fact happening to Her – some distanced identity that was writing about herself in retrospect. It has been several years since I resolved to get to know myself as I instead of She. I also fight with my writing because I’m torn between my identity as an artist and my identity as a survivor. When I explain it like that, it doesn’t sound like it would be a strong sense of confliction – surely I can be both, they don’t conflict – but it impacts what I write about, and what I feel qualified and confident enough to write about.

Finding an identity beyond memoir has been a central focus point for me over the past several months. I am not my past, and I am not my family. I am no longer the little girl who gave her life to Jesus because it was the belief of everyone in her world. I am no longer the young girl who was forced to handle impossible responsibilities while helping to raise her younger siblings. I am no longer the teenager who argued against Harry Potter and defended my version of my religion with fervor. I am now a writer, telling stories about those times.

Yet every time I log into the Internet, or even see my own name, I am reminded of the persona that comes with telling personal stories, the identity that is both me and not me. Identities aren’t sitting at the end of a maze, waiting to be found. They are developed over time, and they are made up of both how we see ourselves and how others see us. The concept of the self, of the identity, quickly becomes philosophical and existential. My memoir is my work, my story, my past – and my past haunts me.

I am still learning who I am beyond my past.

(s)Mother

Wrote this poem a few days ago. It’s very raw, but I was encouraged to share it with the world.

The emotions I’m feeling aren’t ones that I know any song for 
Compassion for my abuser
Understanding for the one who hurt me
Simultaneous anger and release from pain passed on
You used your pain as an excuse 
Your past as a motivation 
To pass on your responsibility 
To a child
I know you tried
You tried, you tried
To reverse the pattern of what you endured
Over-nurture, under-care
That was your smothering and exhausting way 
Because your childhood wound was neglect 
Mine was a whole mess of lies to deconstruct 
About myself and sex and life and divinity 
Because you wanted a girl in a box 
And didn’t think it odd to have her wait on you hand and foot 
Your own child, serving you like a queen 
How do you rationalize that? 
I feel
Compassion and empathy 
Because you had no protection when you were young 
But I also feel
Contempt 
Because neither did I 
And you should have known better