Bits and pieces of this have been published in several places… But here it is in its entirety. It’s my favourite personal essay. So proud of this.
I’m not a real woman, a normal woman. I always attempt to put the truth out there, to warn off, to caution away. I am only a Rubix cube, and it is for this reason alone that men pursue me ruthlessly. I am a puzzle that needs solving. An intricate and magical illusion that needs to be logically explained. Because of course, it has to be some sort of trick. I cannot be real. So, I’m a mysterious box that needs to be opened. A door that needs to be unlocked. They are all looking for my key. It’s not really about me. It never was. They call it love. They tell themselves this. They tell me it’s my passion. It’s my kiss. It’s the feel of me wrapped around them, tight and pulsing. They’ve never felt this way before. Nothing like the self destructive tsunami of passion that only I unleash.
And then come my complications. I am pain. My blood is made of suffering. My soul swims in melancholy. I am the Lemarchand Configuration box and inside, there’s a beautiful demon who predates contemporary, painful souls by thousands of years. I am not a fictional villain in a horror film. I’m so much worse than that. I am the first demon, Lilith. I’m the bitch that dared to be bold and defied God by refusing to obey Adam, to blindly follow his lead.
But, I am also Pandora. I keep the apocalypse safely in my jeweled box in an effort to keep the peace. My soul is an archetypal powerhouse. My wild streak is thick and endless. Durga and Kali are my constant companions. Freya and the Morrigan too. They are the unkindness of ravens to my singular wolf, following me around, close to the ground, ready to pick at the bones of what I’ve left behind.
So go ahead, try to open the box. Say my name out loud. Steal my skeleton keys. Attempt to destroy my mystery. Strangle the thunder and lightning in my eyes. Curse me in your confusion. Just don’t look too close in my closet. There are monsters in there. Monsters that I made of plaster and paper maché. They all turned real; glittery rainbow scales and wide, translucent wings. Fire screaming out of their mouths, because they need to help me destroy something just to regain my sort of bitter stasis, sense of self, and emotional release.
My Chinese horoscope says that because I was born in February on a special leap year, my sign is a dragon and yes, it totally fits. All the good things and all the bad things. My self involvement, selfishness, fragile ego, stupid vanity. I’d rather shove those feelings into an airless vacuum so they cannot breathe and grow stronger, but as much as I try, I am always unsuccessful. I’m most adept at the self loathing: the doubt, the fear of failure, the fear of success. I’d much rather hide and deny my sins and poor decisions and painful, terrifying images in the box and keep my dragons locked away so I can’t hurt any more people than I already have. So that I only hurt me.
The last man I had a serious, committed relationship with was five years ago this last February, and I’ve been celibate for all of those five years, my wolf sedated and chained in my basement. Despite all the men that seek me out and shower me with false flattery. Immediately, they all think I’m their destiny. That they are foreordained to possess me because I will make them better. I will make them happier. I will make their life more profound. I will make them different than they were before. I will cure them of any and all malaise and restlessness and ennui that eats away at them. I will let them save me. I am the magic love potion they will put to their lips and I will fix them. They all think that these things are somehow my responsibility. They feel this way even if they don’t know that they’re obviously broken and bleeding and their visions are askew. But it’s my lunacy if they do.
Their bit of self awareness becomes my tragedy. It’s not love. It’s never been love. It’s merely fascination. Distraction. Transfixation. Pointless repartee. All they want is to own me. The man that taught me the agony and ecstasy of true love, he never loved me. Not really. He was bored with his own complacency. So I became his short lived novelty. And then he threw me away. He was smart enough to put all the puzzle pieces together and he was hard enough to dig deeply into my insides, scramble my guts up, slice and dice my heart into shredded meat. No other man ever affected me that deeply. I fully believe that we’ve met before, that we share a destiny. But just because it is your fate to meet someone and fall in love with them, doesn’t mean that the relationship is ever supposed to work. After all, life is suffering. We were star crossed lovers less than Shakespeare, but with much more misery. There’s something that we need to learn from each other in this lifetime, but I don’t think either of us has figured that out yet. All I know is that he looked into the box, saw me, and accepted me. So I let him in.
All of the men, especially him: they are greedy and think that once the puzzle is solved, the box opened, the door unlocked, they’ll achieve something. Something ethereal, rare and priceless. A holy grail. Something dangerous with great power. To that they are wise. This Pandora has been punished in Purgatory. Treated like trash, raped in every possible way, physically and mentally tortured-made to feel I had nothing left of me. It is only a soul that sustains me. Only a very small part of me. They all know what they want from me but they dare not say it.
They all think that they want to look at Pandora in the eye. They all think they can take me. Nope. Not alive. Not anymore. But, what the fuck are my needs? I’m not even sure what those they are because I’ve never received them. Respect? Honesty? Chivalry? I never understood love until one June, the one when I was twenty two. And when I did, it destroyed me. Sent me down the wrong path so I would get lost in darkness and density. My drug of choice is the most devastating and destructive in the world. I’m addicted to love. I feed off of it. I need it. Those endorphins, that post-coital bliss, that intimacy, the masculine hand stroking my hair, and the promise that he said he’d keep.
The rest of them, the faceless ones. Some just walked a circle around me and strategized, thinking they were smart enough to sort it out just by over-thinking it. Some got close enough to give it a good try: a Trojan horse, a graceless goodbye. But it is in their complacent failure and intimidation that the truth is revealed. My complexities are a maze, and Minotaur waits for me. Takes on all challengers. Shatters their armor so that I can see that in them, there was never and always will be nothing for me. None of them felt that I was worth that price. So they capitulated again to their lassitude state of humid and sweating boredom. The others, the ones that use frustration as a weapon, the ones unable to cope with their own inadequacy, they attempt to destroy me. Crush. Smash. Obliterate. Rape. Humiliate. Control. Kill. Emotionally and physically.
For many years, breathing was barely a thing to me. A risk. A worthless wish. If I am not their Willow tree, if I am not their putty, if I am not this sad, fragile, frightened thing-then men must bridle me. Either that, or flee because they are frightened of me. I was told by someone that my intelligence and beauty were intimidating and maybe that’s the problem, they’re all fucking cowards. Scared of my mind, my wild, and my secrets left unsaid.
And long since then, the others cannot allow themselves to leave a piece of me unharmed. They want my strewn innards and bleeding skin as their favorite memory. It is the basest compulsion in the Id in every man that ever lived and lied, even after they died. All of my lovers, they are only about the end game. But all of them, every one, retreated in defeat. Because they weren’t smart enough. Their courage wavered and fell. They thought that their black knight could check my white queen. You cannot check my queen, boy. You cannot capture me. This is not a game. This is me. This is my fucking curse, my chess pieces, my board, my hurt.
So many people are afraid of darkness because they don’t know its secret. In darkness, there is but safety. You are lost to all but sound and touch, so if you cringe, pull into yourself fully, they’ll never find you. They’ll never hurt you. But in darkness there is too much austerity. Loneliness. Missing pieces. So either I am picked apart by scavenger vultures or I am abandoned like a sightless oracle. This is my fate. This is how I will die.
So really, they, those unworthy men, have never seen me. I have never let them open the box simply because they are only dying of curiosity. And they all fall down in droves at my feet. Because I wouldn’t let them near me. It’s better this way. For now. I am historically legendary and my stories are passed on through the annals of DNA and the ripe, painful wombs of my female ancestors.
They, the men, all think it’s love. The truth is, though, they only want to step close to their fear, to warm their hands with it, put their paws on me, so that they can come and feel more alive for a few seconds and leave in one piece. They fool themselves into thinking that they are following the Hero’s Journey; archetype of the ancients, that their fathers will welcome them home to their very own Valhalla as conquering sons. Elevated. Enumerated. Celebrated as fearless and brave, all boasting of their female slaves.
For their rapes and pillages and piracy they are lauded. Even still, they are weakened by me. My heart is a haunted house on unhallowed ground. Ghosts abound and no crucifix or useless prayer will save them. They’d much rather save their own sad, little hides than seek me out in the maze, while I am curled up in the cold, wet grass beneath a gravestone trying like hell to stop the shiver. Hush the cry. Slow the bleed. Heaving the hope left by the petrichor that reminds me that I am not a Willow tree. I’m freest when my heart is broken. Less concerned and apathetic. The stillness and quiet of emotionally suicidal cliffs calm me.
I tell my lovers that my heart is only a token, a small, but deadly key that has a gravitational hold on me. It opens up everything: a box, a puzzle, a small and stolen soul that would never belong to them, because it doesn’t even belong to me. My heart is my curse, brought out of the earth as a talisman that holds me fast, eternally trapped in my secret and sacred wilderness. In my private serenity. My quiet and desolate reverie.
The song that cracked this open for me… this version specifically. Love you, Faustus. Thanks for this. ❤ Passenger: Golden Leaves, RTTV