Living Death

  November 29th, 2011 by Ineffable

Aldous Huxley once wrote that life is like a never-ending sentence of solitary confinement. Human beings, after all, are trapped. Trapped in our bodies, trapped in our minds, trapped behind words that don’t effectively express what we’re thinking or feeling. “No one,” Huxley wrote, “can ever really communicate anything to anyone.” Everything is wrong, and I can’t let anyone know. I’m trapped, and I’m scared, and I want to die.

It all started when I stopped believing in God.

I was raised in the church, came up through it, with a supportive family and good friends. I was never popular, but I was involved. I’ve read the Bible, twice. I’ve spoken to youth groups, I’ve gone door-to-door witnessing to strangers, and I’ve even lead people to Christ. I’ve done all that and…nothing. I knew, even then, that the Bible never promises rewards for good works. There is no verse that says, “Read the Bible and you will be popular and happy.” but, looking around me every week – at the other people, so in tune, so excited – and lying awake every night fraught with worry – “Am I doing everything right?”, “Am I setting a good example?”, “Am I using my talents?”, “Why don’t I feel God’s presence?” – I knew something was wrong. I know the Bible makes few promises, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that, after everything I’d done, I should have seen something, should have felt something; I deserved to have what those other people had: contentment, excitement, happiness, joy. Instead? Nothing.

So I gave up. I actually remember saying to God, “I don’t believe in you anymore.”, which I immediately thought was silly, because, if I didn’t believe in God, who was I talking to? It didn’t take long for another feeling, another question, to creep into my mind: If there’s no God – no creator – then what’s the point of life? The short answer is, there isn’t one. There’s no one watching over my shoulder every day. There’s no one commanding me to witness to complete strangers, or even my friends; much less read the Bible and be active in church. There’s no one commanding me to do anything. For a long time, I was angry. I went out of my way to cut down religion anywhere I could – which was kind of ironic since, to this day, my parents don’t know that I’m effectively an existential nihilist – and, what’s more, I was good at it. Armed with years of church-honed knowledge, I could argue religion and philosophy with the best of them, all for the sake of proving it was all a sham, and I can say without any ego that I probably won some people over – I could see it in their faces.

But a familiar question loomed: what’s the point? Why bother bickering and arguing with people when, at the end of the day, there’s no point to life and I’m just going to die? For that matter, why do anything when – no matter what I do, good or bad – I’m still just going to rot in the ground? Human beings are less than even the smallest grain of sand in comparison to the scope of the universe, and nothing that we say, do, feel, think, or hope for will ever matter in the grand scheme of things. There’s no grand creator keeping score. There’s no Heaven, there’s no Hell, there’s no Jesus, there’s no salvation, there’s no grace, there’s no forgiveness, there’s nothing.

Why not just kill myself?

But I can’t. Despite everything, despite knowing just how deeply fruitless and empty this – all of this, even writing this – is, I’m afraid to die. Afraid I’m right, and that there’s nothing after this. Afraid I’m wrong, and that there’s Hell waiting. This nihilistic mindset has seeped into my bones and crippled me utterly, but I do my best to ignore it, and I live with it. I’ve kept living, I’ve kept working, I went to school and got my Bachelor’s degree.

And now…?

Every day begins with an existential crisis. Whether it’s five minutes, or fifteen, I lie awake wondering why I should even bother getting out of bed. I haven’t been able to find a job to utilize my degree, and I hate the one I have. I see friends, from time to time, but I’ve largely cut myself off from them because…I don’t know why…because I’m afraid? Because sometimes it seems like everyone has it together except for me. I can’t talk to anyone about this. Not my friends, certainly not my family; not even my beautiful girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend), who found a note I’d written stating everything I’ve posted here, and only wants me to get help because she loves me. I can’t talk to her, can’t get help, so I ran. I feel like the life I wanted has passed me by, I’ve wrecked the love that I had, and now I simply wake up every day with no hope, waiting to die.

It’s solitary confinement, trapped in this body, trapped in my head, with my thoughts piling up around me, and I’m drowning, without a way to release any of this; because talking doesn’t make it go away.  And I know this probably sounds selfish, probably is selfish: I’m not poor, I’m not hungry, I’m not homeless; just an average middle-class American with no real problems to speak of. Who am I to complain? Plenty of people would kill for the kind of comfortable existence I lead. But this feeling has eaten away at me, deep inside. It’s been growing inside of me for a decade, beneath the surface, until now it’s all I have. It’s who I am, and I’m afraid of the day when “Fear of dying.” becomes “Fear of living another day like this.” and killing myself doesn’t sound so bad compared to this sentence of living death.

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