Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Christianity
Experiencing my father’s strong hate, I turned my aggression inwardly. This led to my succumbing to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my twenties. An overheating of the immune system. Inward-directed aggression is of course the exact opposite of being emotionally labile, which is what Christian ideology tends to accuse women of being. It perplexed me no end when people brought up in a Christian culture kept ascribing these opposite attributes to me. I didn’t understand that they were merely employing the mechanisms of an ideology, so I thought I must have been communicating especially badly. I tried still harder to communicate, using different methodologies and varying the emotional tempo to see which approach might work. It was really necessary for me to alleviate this extreme guilt complex — this sense of having failed in life absolutely, because my father lost the war. To escape from my troubles I felt I had to communicate. This was really difficult whilst people were alleging I had the opposite characteristics to the ones I had. I felt locked into my own mind, and the more I felt this way, the more aggression I directed at myself. Christianity was killing me from the inside out.
It wasn’t until I read Nietzsche that I began to understand human psychology. Before that I had been dwelling in the mode of metaphysics, which meant upbraiding myself for every small sign of falling short of an overarching standard of perfection. From Nietzsche I learned that all humans harbor aggression and that is it better — healthier — to direct those energies in some way outwardly, rather than keeping them inside. Nietzsche effectively saved my life by stopping me from attacking myself.
My immune system used to be so low that not only would I contract any virus going around, but I would then spend the greater part of the year getting over a minor cold. A ‘flu virus in my system was a major disaster for me, as the infection stemming from it would inevitably migrate into my sinuses and ear canals, leaving me debilitated for month upon month. Because I had internalized the Christian ideology of moral perfectionism so much, I couldn’t offer any excuses for myself. I would mumble something about not being able to hear others properly, due to my eternally blocked ears, and try to soldier on. I knew any sign of weakness would only invoke my father’s wrath more completely. He would rain down fire and brimstone. I was the cause of everything that had gone wrong. I was the externalisation of the negative feelings he had about himself.
That I was unable — and literally prevented — from communicating the nature of the problem I endured for many years was down to cultural Christianity. If women are not to be trusted on principle, there is little they can communicate. They must keep enduring whatever situation they are in until they find a way out of it.
Although I succumbed to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my early twenties, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I had made significant achievements in managing to climb out of it. I really had to re-pattern my whole psyche so that its energy systems were not directed inward but went outward to some degree. I had to destroy myself (as I had been) and build myself up again, whilst having no recourse to communicating my project to anyone. Those I did try to speak to communicated, by their actions, that they not only didn’t understand but that I made them angry. I had to save my very limited energetic resources not in soliciting the help of others but in building myself up.
These days I find that those who embrace cultural Christianity still do blame me for something nebulous, but their opposition to my goals and intellectual efforts is not all that active. Something in me or in the air has changed. It would be a vast understatement to say I am grateful for it.
Mike and I have a common sentiment that we simply love to share. It’s that “communism is good.”
“Hey, did you look at my essay and check my grammar?” I shout out from the other room.
“Yes. All done.”
“And are you sure you weren’t tempted to add anything extra?”
“I added one thing only — that communism is good,” he answers.
It has been difficult for me, encountering the ideology that says I must adapt to cultures and attitudes that I don’t feel. Everything that pressures me, that pushes me in one way or another, saying “hurry, and adapt!” has had its peculiar and complex effect on me.
I lost my health for many years, but it is back again. I think I nearly killed my father once or I might have imagined it, being prone as I am to taking on the blame for others — or perhaps he did it himself, by trying to force me to become without a mind of my own. It made for an impossible situation — where survival was possible for one of us or the other, within the limitations of his ideological view of women, so the more he told me that I couldn’t speak, or even think properly, the more I told him to leave my space and me alone and go and die. Then he became manic and nearly drowned in the ocean and an ambulance had to take him to the hospital. I couldn’t get others to take me or my situation seriously, so I fought with fire as best I could. I was numb to social relations by this time. I repeated my mantra for survival: “Either me, or him.”
Hate gets to the bottom of your soul eventually, and when you know that you are hated, you become ruthless eventually. The struggle for survival seems to sharpen on all sides in harsh relief, when you are surrounded by hate. You make absolutist ultimatums to preserve yourself — and it comes down in the end to “Either me, or him.”
And I knew this, too, because I sensed his pain: my father had lost everything in losing his place in Rhodesia. His work place could no longer fund him, and his pay was diminishing with inflation, monthly. Perhaps his way of adaptation was to preserve in me a little retrogressive flavour — a little island of Rhodesia. Survival said I didn’t have the option to offer him that. “Either him or me.”
Hatred has its way of going deep — his constant attacks did that. On morning I was sleeping in late, due to a virus. 9.30 am — and he threw my bed over. I scrambled to cover myself with a sheet, naked. Right-wing and left-wing attacks on my identity now strike me with all the psychological force that sends my blood cold. This has gone on for so long. The ideological onslaughts that command me to change because I’m evil are based on Western needs to label and combat evil identities in their midst.
Whites who come from Zimbabwe (or “Rhodesia”, as it was known) are not, however, evil — as Western liberals hold. And, Communism is not inevitably “good” either! Get to know our sense of humor, our interests and nuances, because conforming to your cultural norms (rather than being out of step and in a time-warp) isn’t morally pure or all that intelligent either and adaptation is not the only meaning left in life after everything else in life has lost its meaning.