zetasyanthis: (Default)
[TW: Frank talk of religion-induced depression and tragic empathy with the shooter. If that puts you off, stop reading now rather than hating me later.]

I didn't want to write this, and I certainly never wanted to have to write this, but apparently I must. So many people just don't seem to understand what this means, or are missing it in the flurry of stories coming out right now.

The Orlando shooter was gay.

And that is really important.

It makes this a double tragedy.

Why? It makes all the difference in the world.

Self-hate is a powerful thing. Self-hate because you believe you are *damned* for something you cannot control or erase from yourself no matter what you do? That is a poison that will kill you. It's a poison that will twist your joy until you hate even more for daring to love those moments where you're really yourself. And it's a poison that I know all too well. I know it in myself, and I know it in my father; and I'm here to tell you the terrible depth of our mistake. I'm here to tell you that we failed.

I have been many dark places in my life, many places that I hope never to venture to again. The place Omar Mateen found himself in is one of them. Tragically, he was unable to escape.

I have no doubt that he had moments of joy in his life, as well as moments of sadness. All of us do. Even knowing his final act, I have no doubt that he likely found some solace at Pulse in his many visits there, clinging to a hope that this could be normal and safe, but never safe in his own mind. I know what it's like to feel unable to stop being *wrong*, to give in for a while, and to finally relapse back, hating yourself all the more. The force of religion, of true belief, can be put aside for a while. You can, with effort, push it away and be yourself for a little while, but you pay for it dearly later.

Faith vs. self is a cycle that repeats. It cycles again and again until something breaks. More often than not in America, it's faith, but not all are so lucky. The fact that many believe and continue to teach those in this vulnerable, pained state just exacerbates and already deadly conflict. Whether it's gay conversion therapy, or just everyday discrimination and abuse, it reinforces the despair you feel at never being good enough, never being able to be what God wants you to be. You feel like a failure when you give in, and more and more worthless every time you are forced to lie to others to protect yourself, to protect your job, to not be ostracized by your family. This internal struggle has many signs, most of them subtle or misunderstood, and *many* take their own lives when they break down from the stress.

Omar lost his battle late last week, and 49 others lost it with him.

Again, I know what this pain feels like. I know how deep it goes, how the very core of what you believe to be yourself rebels against the world, against other parts of yourself, against your beliefs and everything you have ever been taught. And I know what it feels like to lose that fight. I lost it 4 times that I can remember growing up, falling deeper into a depression I never understood I had. I remember the sweat, the late nights hiding at my computer, locking my door so that no one could see. I remember even using my own brother as a scapegoat, turning him in to avoid drawing suspicion that I might be looking at pornography myself. I still bare that shame. >.< I remember too, formatting my computer time after time, as though deleting everything and starting from a clean slate would work this time, that I would be stronger, better, that *I* would make God proud. And I remember failing, again and again.

I don't know how I survived that, and I certainly don't know what happened to push Omar over the edge, to turn his self-destructive tendencies outward on the community that *I have no doubt* would have loved to help him, any way they could. Many of us have fought through similar experiences, and I would not even be surprised if some of the others who died that night share my, and his story, albeit with different ends.

But he couldn't. He wouldn't. I have no doubt his hands shook as he made his final decisions, only to transition into that alarming, deliberative calm many settle into when facing certain death. I have no doubt that before that moment, he felt he had utterly failed. And I have no doubt that he hoped that his God might even even forgive him if he tried to make things right. His poison, the same poison that we stream onto televisions and teach in religious schools all across the country, won. And so he went to his favorite nightclub, and died. And 49 others died with him.

The police say that there were few signs of faith-based radicalization, though his abusive, angry behavior was something that raised a red flag with many. Though I don't *think* I ever reacted in that way, I know someone else who did, someone who hates himself for a whole variety of reasons. I know my dad. I know he lashed out at me because he cannot contain the anger and the despair he feels, the depression that overwhelms him daily and has for more years than I have known him. And I know he, much like Omar, suffers in silence, not seeking help, because he believes himself to be the failure.

I never thought, in a million years, I'd see a shade of myself in a mass shooter, but I have. I wish I could unsee what I have seen.

Date: 2016-06-19 06:08 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] 403
403: (The Human Condition)
Thank you. This needed to be said.


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Zeta Syanthis

September 2017


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