Writing by Vivienne Gorgoova, artwork by Berenika Murray
My mum would always say we were being punished. Every minor inconvenience our family had to overcome was a result of God intervening in our fate to remind us of our sinfulness. All the biggest fears and struggles of my childhood could be easily explained by Mum´s punishment theory. You were grouped with kids you didn’t like in primary school? You were too proud when you hadn´t befriended them earlier. I just needed to become friends with everyone to prevent it from happening again. Illnesses would be trickier to interpret within the logistics of the punishment theory. The explanation was somewhat sloppy. Mum would try to trace my tonsilitis back to our fight last week.
Being angry only makes God angry.
She obeyed the same rules. Every time she found a cluster of her hair she would say, with an absolute confidence, that it must be the result of her jealousy over her colleague´s long hair. What other explanation is there?
These irrational incidents sparked suspicion towards her theory. Surely, the fight made Mum angrier than God? Surely, hair loss must have a medical explanation, too? I still managed to stop my sinful anger and spiteful arguments. The ride through puberty was nothing but the complete eradication of all my sinful behaviour, blindly believing my life would turn into Heaven on Earth once I did. I held the biggest triumph of all - I was the one to discover the key to Heaven and only at thirteen! Every new immoral inconvenience was just a new repression of myself until, one day, I ran out of deadly sins. There are only seven. I couldn´t wrap my head around it: only seven and I´ve already been through them all. Another punishment for my anger? The suffering continued and I couldn´t help but question the almighty for the first time.
What sick game of crime and punishment are you playing with a thirteen-year-old?
I started to blame other members of my family for our generational bad luck. I must be punished for their misbehaviour. Their sins, not mine. I clutched my newly obtained innocence hard. This opened a door for anger to sneak in, turning me into a furious teenager unable to understand why can´t the others just repress every inch of their being. The vicious cycle of sinfulness was frustrating. I felt enraged without any real cause. Yet, I was fuming at the possibility of endless suffering because of someone else´s sin.
I still remember the utter guilt I felt after seeing porn for the first time. Pleasure interwoven into doom, bits of ecstasy within the heavy weight of betraying my family, dooming them to infinite suffering. I emerged as Eve, cursing the next generations with decay and pain. Since then, I was convinced I was the cause of all our struggles for a very simple reason – despite my efforts, I couldn´t stop with this sin. It was the infinite sea of naked bodies and their tenderness that enchanted me. The human connection was striking even when the reliability of the medium was questionable. The closeness of the bodies captivated me. I desired that closeness, the kind when no other human attributes mattered but the softness of our bodies, the softness of their heavenly touch. Men or women, the division became senseless to me. It was the physical body, nothing else, taking on the main role in Intimacy. How simple, how beautiful, how climactic. Not a single trace of sinfulness.
The abandonment of God began when I decided to fight for my rights and claim my voice as a sinner. Naturally, I only achieved that in silence. Internal liberation of my mind behind Mum´s back. A week after this radical resolution, my dad ended up in a hospital. While it wasn´t a very serious case, it was another reason for me to believe that it was my sin that caused this dreadful incident. I remember hearing my Mum´s cry that night.
Why are we always being punished?
My selfish pleasure was burying all the branches of this family tree, deep enough to reach the devilish flames. The strangest thing about my Mum was her strong belief in superstitions complementary to an even stronger faith in God. Number thirteen signalized an upcoming unfortunate event, religious or not. Spiders and snakes were the symbols of the Devil rather than Nature. Oh, and the dreams! The dreams held all the power and prophecy. It was hard for me to comprehend the connection between them and God, but Mum could perfectly defend herself by claiming it was God who was sending her the dreams. Rivers of blood, massacred families, loss of teeth, and infinite falling. These horrors constantly helped her recognize the upcoming family disaster but left her with no power to prevent them. God wouldn’t let her breathe even in her dreams. And while she always advised me to keep asking Him for forgiveness, it wasn´t God I thought about when entering the Women´s Clinic. I left him in the past, yet the need to ask someone for forgiveness remained deeply ingrained.
After taking the pill, prepare to feel heavily nauseous. Plan on resting and make sure you have someone around to help you if needed.
It was my Mum I asked for forgiveness. It was my Mum I prayed to.