Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The philosophical threads of fiction I've come across in the last 48 hours...

1) From the game: You've taken vows to not kill innocents except in self-defence. You are attacked by an knife-toting possibly demonically-possessed woman but you're not sure if she's still human or not, but your attempts to subdue her are not working. Do you kill her?
2) From Charmed: A doctor who is human and not daemonic or otherwise evil has your powers and is going mad and killing criminals for their organs to give to those who need the organs to live. He has thwarted your attempts to cure him with a potion. You can't use your powers to kill him, but you can let something he's thrown at you rebound and kill him. Do you? Or do you do everything you can to save him?
3) Also from Charmed: A building is on fire. Do you save five strangers or one sibling?
4) From my favourite episode of Buffy: Your best friend has turned to darkness as the result of losing someone she loves. She is about to destroy the world. You've been told that no supernatural thing can stop it. Do you go get a rope and get the Slayer out of a pit so she can save the world, or do you go yourself and stand between your friend and the one thing she needs to charge to destroy everything, telling her you love her, refusing to hate her, and walk up and give her a hug?

My normal answers are 1) Do everything to subdue her but pull the killing blow because she might be an innocent, 2) Use my telekinesis to direct something to knock him out rather than letting the sharp pointy thing kill him, then force a potion down his throat, [the Charmed Ones allowed him to be killed, but Piper agonised over the loss of an innocent] 3) Five strangers [although that decision would haunt me] 4) Go tell my friend I love her, even if she destroys me [which is what Xander did]. The other day in the game I made the wrong judgement call and didn't pull the damage, and when all was said and done, the innocent was killed. The possessing entities left. She was dead. It's a grey area; technically no vow was violated, etc. But still, it was the wrong call. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes the character and the situation take over. Over the last twelve years this character, my first, was more clear-cut to play. Now she's been through so much, I responded with a little bit of jadedness, I suppose, because it made sense, and it seemed the only way to be sure. But our characters come from within us, too. I don't think I've lost touch of that part of me that would answer the questions above as indicated. Whilst I'm not the martyr I once was, I still don't think I would hesitate to give my life to save another.

Granted it's all fiction. No one actually died in the above scenarios. Most were the products of writers. But every day we're faced with choices for good or evil. Sometimes we make a choice by refusing to take a side. I can still remember someone being asked if she would give her life to save someone else, and she said it depended on who they were, meaning, I think, how important the victim was to her. You can put conditions on such choices--it has to be given willingly. That's how true love is, too. No strings. No enmeshment. Regardless of the good or bad that someone does. Love is just simply love.

I have to admit, I do believe in evil. I believe that evil has no power in the face of love. And I believe evil hates truth. The years I spent lying to myself (and consequently others), even over 'little' things, were choices on the side of evil. Embracing truth frees you in so many ways, even if it's not always the most pleasant thing to do. I used to see my mind as a mansion full of locked doors, with long cobwebby halls, a sort of Gothic asylum if you will. In the centre was this sort of ambiguous Lisa-land full of sparkliness and unicorns where people were good and I was somehow loved and important. It was a place I retreated to whenever the outside world was too much--which was most of the time. I spent most of my adolescence caught up in books and in Lisa-land. I believed my father loved me. I believed I was a good person. I believed my ex was a good person, and that he loved me, and that I loved him. And you know what? Under everything, I was a good person, but I was also a scared little girl who never grew up emotionally because she'd been put away into isolation into some small corner of the world where nothing outside her phantasy was good. Even inside my self I never felt safe. I felt angry, waves of emotion that never made it to the surface but only made me sick and selfish. I never really knew what it was like to be loved without conditions, without desperation, who loved me not for what I was, but who I am, etc. The closest was probably my grandfather, until I finally met someone who taught me how to love--and by the time that happened I had so many walls built up and was so out of touch with reality I'm surprised he ever got through. But under everything, under the insipid nothing I had become, was a spark of someone who wanted to live, who wanted to choose truth, who wanted to grow up. And that's why I finally broke back into reality, even though it nearly drove me crazy to do it.

When I think of my self, now, the doors are all open. The sunlight shines through the windows. There are books, neatly on shelves. I feel safe inside my own head. There are sounds of the world outside--of children playing, and dogs, and aeroplanes. There's still a bit of Lisa-land that I can visit. But it's mixed with reality, and it's not some sort of sugar-coated place that hid all sorts of dark sludge. I still have child-like (but not childish) moments. I still look at the magic of a bird in flight, or the world turning, or the flash of sunlight on water. It's almost like I see the world in a sort of hyper-reality now. I look at people and I see pain, or joy, or tiredness. I look at a forgotten toy and see the love it once received. I see the joy of a child discovering something for the first time. I understand that I've known pain, and fear, and hate, and that it's part of me, but it is not me. I am whole. The truth is that I'm aware of far more complexity than I once was, both in myself and in the world around me. For the first time I feel...complete, rather than fractured. I'm living life. I'm aware. I'm not dissociating myself into Lisa-land. I feel reborn.

I was going through some old calendars today and I suddenly realised that it was not all that surprising that I sank into such a depression and whirlwind of emotion. As I looked at all the triggers, all the new responsibilities, all the things I filled my life up so that I wouldn't have to deal with the turmoil inside, all the loss--so many had either died or had shattered my faith in them, with those who wanted me wanting me for all the wrong reasons and a little unrequited love of my own added into the mix--I started to understand for the first time why I broke. The amazing thing is that few who didn't know me well ever knew I was literally coming undone. Even when I told them, some refused to believe. And I was hurting the ones I did love, so that pretty much left me alone, in bed, or in the bathroom at work, trying to make it through the emotional storms without ending it all. They would come on like a seizure. If I could just wait them out without hurting myself, I knew I would be okay. For awhile. And I did get the help I needed. The dialectical behaviour therapy did more than any regular therapy could have done, because it wasn't a matter of some weirdo just listening to me ramble but rather learning how to use skills I should have been taught growing up to deal with the world and with myself. And even though I feel better I still use them everyday to cope with life so those storms don't return--to do more than just cope with life, but live it. My life's not perfect--no one's is, and if they tell you otherwise they're hiding something, I suspect, but it is so much more than it used to be.

I'm not sure why I'm waxing so philosophical lately. I guess it's like the tides. Maybe it's the music (see below). Maybe it's that I have all these little signposts that have been coaxing it up. But I felt like I should put it down. Who knows, maybe there will be a time I'll have to remember how alive I feel right now. I know I'll probably fight depression, anxiety, and borderline behaviour my whole life. So whilst I would hope there won't be a 'next time' for such despair, I know the odds are there will be. And maybe, just maybe, someone typed 'depression' into Google along with something else on this page and this will pop up and someone who otherwise might not have hope might find some. And if that happens, then all the hell was worth it, because I would not trade any of that suicidal rage if there's a chance going through it could help someone else. I believe there was a reason for what I went through. I used to think it was only to help someone else, or so that I could have a child without perpetuating the chain of abuse that my family has had, etc. Now I can actually--without feeling guilt about just being alive--believe that maybe it's just because I'm a decent person who deserves to live. But if I can help others, it is a plus. :)

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