Why I wanted to stay ill

“How Tyler saw it was that getting God’s attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God’s hate is better than His indifference.
If you could be either God’s worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose?
We are God’s middle children, according to Tyler Durden, with no special place in history and no special attention.
Unless we get God’s attention, we have no hope of damnation or redemption.
Which is worse, hell or nothing?
Only if we’re caught and punished can we be saved.
‘Burn the Louvre,’ the mechanic says, ‘and wipe your ass with the Mona Lisa. This way at least, God would know our names.’”

– Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

One of my favorite books. I’ve already read it twice but reading this little bit makes me want to read the whole thing again (if it weren’t for the for the fact that school’s starting again and, looking at my reading list, I’ll be buried in books from now on). Anyway. I’ve been thinking about this hell-or-nothing idea – I’ve spent the last six or seven years thinking about it, to be honest – and I seem to finally be getting somewhere. There’s this stubborn conviction I have that I’m supposed to Achieve Something to justify my being alive, and the urge to make my Achievement destructive. I didn’t believe that I could ever Achieve Something that would be good enough, so then you might as well make a big mess right away and be done with it, because then at least you are in control. That’s how I reasoned. I was to be either a Grand Success (whatever that was) or an utter failure; there was nothing in between. It’s quite a downward spiral one plummets into, then. I think that, because I felt (still sometimes do) like I was nothing but disorders, it was impossible for me to have any positive worth. I could either be ill, with a negative worth, or nothing, with no worth at all. Really, if these are my options I’d rather stay ill, nuts, and destructive, thank you very much.

A strong part of me genuinely wanted to stay ill. In retrospect, I think that was the main goal of my eating disorder and alcoholism: to stay ill. Not because it’s so much fun to be ill, but because I firmly believed that I had nothing else. Marya Hornbacher writes about this in Wasted, and when I read that I felt how someone had finally given me words for something I’d always felt. I’ve spend most of my childhood and adolescence tumbling around in my mind and practising (and becoming very good at) disappearing, so in the end that was what I was. It was either hell or nothing, God’s worst enemy or His biggest indifference, and without thinking about it I chose the former. I had felt invisible nearly all my life and I burst out longing for people to see me, and I preferred being seen as “crazy” over not being seen at all. Everyone wants to be Someone, I had just managed to create a very untenable sense of who I was. That, and I had this rather morbid curiosity about how far I could go. This is really thrilling for a while (before it becomes a terrifying ‘oh God what did I do’). It’s like walking on the edge of a cliff and daring to look right into an infinitely deep, unexplored depth, and almost-but-not falling. And for a long time I really took pride in this, being convinced that I was doing something most people don’t dare to do.

I don’t really have this curiosity anymore because I pretty much figured out how far I can go: damn far. And tits, it is hard to come back. What happens if you don’t? You fall and then you die. That’s all, and probably also why most people ‘don’t dare’, but hell, what did I know. Concludingly: the results of my experiment have been positively disappointing, so I stopped. Like I said, stopping was hard (still is, but less so); and it wasn’t exactly a jolly-good time either because I had to trade my known, fixed identity for a ridiculously vague and seemingly non-present one, but sometimes all you can do is blindly try. And here I am. I feel as if I’m in some sort of limbic existence. It’s not as petrifying as I thought. Not knowing who you are is hard but I’m starting to be okay with it, and I think I kind of like it. I would still choose hell over nothing but not knowing isn’t nothing; on the contrary, it is so many things. I can be a little different every day, which is great exciting fun compared to my years of always being exactly the same shit. I still have moments, days, sometimes weeks, during which I miss being ill – the safety and absolute finality of it, because I am a wuss and absolutely terrified of life – but they’re shorter and less frequent. I think I’m starting to be able to feel how I am different things, little & not so dramatic & somewhat boring & more reliable things; it is a fading and reappearing feeling, but it is here. And I don’t think it has ever been here before. So… Yay for all being Someones (even if you don’t know what the hell is going on)!


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