Secular Martyr – Jan Stanek

        Question #121: I have never indulged in unusual sex practices.

        A new you. Stitched together from meaningless therapy-talk and precious sweet suckling trauma. The old you was a walking stillbirth. This is the fattest load you’ll ever take: the new you. The sympathetic you. The you that we’ll all pity.

        Trading in a new kind of currency. Something intangible, easy to get, even easier to fake, untraceable. Beautiful. The self presented as a narrative. Something that could win awards. All pose. No meat. Teeth.


        You spineless fucking cunt.

        Question #322: At times I have enjoyed being hurt by someone I loved.

        Consumed by the bluntly pathological need to be every bad thing that’s ever happened to me. To say all the right things, be the expected victim, all because the reality of it is so achingly boring. No intact easily-presented evil to point to as the cause. Just thoughtless cruelty.

        Somehow worse.

        Question #222: Children should be taught all the main facts of sex.

        It’s eleven o’ clock at night and I’m bored and horny so I strip (mostly) naked and start looking for a place to beat off on camera. Start looking for an audience. I don’t know what I want, even less what I’ll get out of this, but I find one, and pretty fast to boot. Comments: “Nice.” “How old are you?” “Face.” Quick disconnects that don’t say anything. I turn it off and feel sick and then I keep beating off to what I just did to myself: the sickness is the point. Part of the fantasy. If I wasn’t hurting myself, there wouldn’t be anything there. There wouldn’t be a point.

        Question #217: My relatives are nearly all in sympathy with me.

        It’s habitual. And anyways, no risk involved other than the dim possibility of future embarrassment. You take your phone and turn it on and start recording, timing it just right so that you can weep over the latest indignity or failure. It’s indistinguishable.

        What is it, anyways? Some sickly neonatal urge for validation? Approval? An honestly alien desire to be seen by other people? Are you telling the truth? Is it really about what you’re pretending to cry over?

        Masturbation. That’s all it is. All it’ll ever be.

        Stop exposing yourself.

        Question #468: I am afraid of being alone in a wide-open place.

        I’m in therapy (again.) My therapist’s four months pregnant and going on leave soon, meaning I’ll never see her again. Two years of my life more or less gone, can’t remember any of it. All the posters in her dim late evening office are printer paper marked with cartoons about mindfulness. Sometimes I’m too tired to talk so I just sort of sit there and doze off while she does paperwork; it’s give and take, like almost everything, but what disturbs me is that I don’t know what she’s taking. Never know what other people are taking.

        What’s funny is that I never cry in the therapist’s office. I usually do that in the parking lot, half about what happened to me and half about my permanent fear that dad forgot he has to pick me up from soccer practice.

        Question #470: A large number of people are guilty of bad sexual conduct.

        You pull up about a month after your obscene, grotesque meltdown and text me that you’re outside, like nothing happened. Sitting shotgun I get another text, from B__. She says you’re acting weird. I ignore it for a second because you’re always acting weird, but text back asking for clarification as you turn a corner. “She’s suicidal, or something.”

        You start heading for the nearest mountain and the entire time we talk about school, meaningless shit, like who’s fucking who and the normal everyday pains. The entire time I’m drowning gripping the door-handle, convinced you’re going to make a sharp-right turn off a cliff and kill us both. In the moment, it seems perfectly in character for you. Perfectly.

        We get to the top. Sob a little about the regular facts of life, aftermaths, conversations we’ve had a hundred times before, and I think, self-conscious of how cruel a sentiment it is: this is so boring.

        You never have good news. You are never happy with how things are. All we do is reinforce each other’s bad ugly pasts.

        The conversation moves, like it always does and probably always will, to a begrudging half-acceptance of our lot in life. And I’m still convinced you’re about to get us both killed. B__ texts me again, asks where I’m at. I tell her home, mostly to not make her worry, because she always assumes the worst about you. (B__, I am starting to notice, is right about you.)

        I don’t bring up what you did last month. Why bother?

        I get out in front of my house and mention, trying to make it sound like a joke, that I thought you were gonna drive off of a cliff. You feign shock and say you’d never do that to me.

        Question #483: People do not find me attractive.

        What’s the easiest type of abuse to fake?

        You need something that doesn’t leave any real physical scarring but something that I can blame everything on.

        Something to redeem your shit-heap life and make it into something meaningful. Something that can make you into the you you want other people to look at and think about. Something that can be used up. Something that can be deferred to.

        You settle on emotional abuse, usually some hazy mother figure being too strict. Could have raised her voice once. If you’re smart, you’ll use the term emotional neglect and spew hot brown shit out your mouth to an audience of hundreds, thousands.

        All this because your parents set a fucking curfew when you were sixteen.

        You’re nothing and you know it. A repugnant weepy liar curing itself with salt tears.

        And you can always fake worse, if that stops playing well.

        Question #190: Many people treat me more like a child than a grown-up.

        The first time you openly threaten to kill yourself, giving me a time and way of doing it, I’m on acid. You know I am. You timed it for maximum effect, because you also know that I just found out you lied about the pregnancy, subsequent abortion, the boyfriend who actually doesn’t know you. About more or less everything you’ve told me, even the stuff before that, and now all of it’s in question.

        My first thought, self-consciously cruel and tired of you, is: do it.

        Second thought, rereading the text, moving past kneejerk reaction and into lucidity: I need to do something.

        I tell the friends I’m with: all mutual, all in the same situation, all also totally out of it. B__ looks at my phone, tilts her head back, groans. We discuss whether or not you’re baiting us. Whether or not this is worth taking seriously. Whether or not you’re worth taking seriously, in general, if you’re just a walking example of sunk cost fallacy at this point.

        Our forcedly good natures mean we need to do something, so we call the police on you and, naturally, you’re absolutely fucking furious at us – for taking you seriously.

        Question #209: I like to talk about sex.

        Social tapeworm.

        You’re rich. So many things have gone just right for you, albeit not in a way that our parents would recognize. All the right easily cleaned up and presentable sexual neuroses. All the just good enough to get out of bed illnesses.

        I hope it was worth it. So much time left in your parasitic life for things to go wrong.