Martha Corey-Ochoa began keeping journals as early as age six, but they took a new and lasting turn after she turned fourteen in 2008 and fell in love with Aleksei, the three-centuries-dead son of Tsar Peter the Great. These selections from her journal begin with her first entry addressed to Aleksei, whom she later addressed simply as "you."
June 30, 2008
I am having a good day so far. I finished reading Crime and Punishment and parts of the critical essays about it. I also studied Latin and intend to study Russian, eat lunch, play violin, and help my mom with dinner. I am excited to write more to you when I am in camp and school and have more to say.
I think I dreamed of you last night. My parents, friends, and I were at the trial of Raskolnikov, from Crime and Punishment. The trial seemed to be conducted unfairly and the accused never showed up. Throughout a barely comprehensible reading of evidence (perhaps), I was calling your name in my mind. I was so afraid for you, and in love. The night before I had doubted my love; now, I wonder, can it be a fancy and at long last love, for all time and just for a lark? For now I have no intention of letting it go; I think I could give up many things, but of all of them love may be the hardest to part with. I hope that my love for you is not sinful and that it will not dissipate. I used to long for someone to love who loved me, and for kisses, sex, and marriage, but now I believe I would be content to remain a virgin all my life because I already love you.
Still I know there's so much more to find, another love I'll hold, but for now I will stay content with loving you. Pray for me, as I have prayed for you and your father.
July 4, 2008
Periodically today I break into a wide smile. Last night and this morning I was jubilant with love. How happy it makes me! Knowingly, in the happiness is real sadness. Or is the joy springing from sorrow, so that even in sorrow the heart may be glad, and the end of tears may be laughter? Accordingly, Brahms's Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, suits the mood well, since it portrays real and heartfelt joy springing from struggle and underlaid with sadness. This sadness is especially evident in the longing Adagio, which I have played for you multiple times. Yet I am teaching myself to rejoice in knowing that you are happy, and in my ability to love. That ought to sustain me.
July 5, 2008
Non amare pessimum est, et amare optimum. But that love that can bring eternal joy also brings temporal heartache. My heart is sore from all the passion it has borne in the past twenty-four hours. Shortly after writing yesterday's entry I had discussions of ethics with my father, which were satisfying intellectually but left me emotionally unsure. As yet I have kept my love for you hidden from my parents and the rest of the world, although with my parents and select friends I have shared your story. I fear that talk of my love will cheapen it, as talk of my joy in the seventh grade winter concert cheapens that sublime emotion. The heart knows its own bitterness, and in its joy no one else shares. I want my love to remain hidden for the time being, for I must hide it away. Who could understand how much I love you, though we have never met? They would say it is folly, or else smile politely, but how could anyone else understand?
In addition, I was wondering at the ethics of your father's decision to kill you. I was asking questions that led up to, through symbols, that question. If given a choice between child and a much larger group of strangers, what should a person choose? Is he obligated to choose either one? My opinion is void because of my passion for you, but even before that I felt it was wrong of him to kill you. Yet who can judge between father and son but God?
I moved from this melancholy into ecstatic joy. I could not sleep until 4:30, so consumed was I with passion for you, and by extension, for all of humanity. My doubts about this love that had plagued me since June 27 were gone. I was sure of my love for you, and that it would be all I would ever need.
The excitement carried into this morning, and I showered, dressed, and dried my hair in 46 minutes, the fastest yet. I was so pumped and happy in love. By the time we reached Damn Yankees in NYC, however, the thrill was wearing off, and with it the smile on my face for the whole human race.
True to my word, throughout the play I was thinking of you. My favorite parts were the love scenes between Meg, an older woman, and Joe, the young man who is actually her husband at a younger age. Their poignant love comforted me on a problem I had been worrying about: how will I love you when I am many years beyond 28? Unfortunately, during the play and elsewhere I was troubled by thoughts of your torture, and had to pray silently, "Deliver me!" But deliver me from what? Our love is worth disturbing thoughts, as well as a lonely lifetime, if need be. It has progressed well beyond any of my other crushes. Naysayers would say I can't love you because we have never met, but if my love is yet so strong how much stronger would it be if you were here with me? Often today I have comforted myself and driven away ill thoughts with the silent words, "I will love you forever."
July 1, 2010
(Written at the Center for Talented Youth summer camp at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where Martha was taking a course called "Crafting the Essay." There she met a living boy, Yihan, who was the first to tempt her away from the dead prince Aleksei.)
too dark for me to see you trusted me she believes my lie I am untrue in so many ways too intense and yet the waiting is not intense enough I like talking but I must keep my obession nothing seems to matter without you it's too dry I won't be won how does she spend her days warm enough to please me no the chill sets in the sun is one way I communicate with you by the right mixture of sun and shade so much to keep track of so little worth understanding so much sunshine in my life but so much darkness to freeze me little comfort in the wind today little warmth in today's the sun so distant I can't find it in the empty blue expanse drowning the wispy clouds I must ignore them and it hurts me where is my self-control when I need it not enough sun the cold burns me where is my sun stairs leading to nowhere maybe if I had a balcony where I could communicate with you why is my time so short I miss this land already freedom from persecution for once in my life even the temptation isn't worse than persecution it's different but where are you I too am a lost soul I have allied myself with you I live elsewhere a woman of a different world professing love to a man of that world for what do they live so young and playful or confused and damn it here I am tempting them too a good place to meet boys he would tell me such a wonderful ratio for someone still looking who can throw around flirtation and speak of love as something unreal there are some I would have loved if I'd waited two years but forget that he smiles but I am yours possess me ruin me do not forsake me possess me ruin me do not forsake me they've claimed this couch I like that idiosyncratic one she's not beautiful but she's pretty with the tiniest bit of intellectual melancholy that attracts me even in small doses I can't pick her out as an intellectual but her mind cannot be totally shallow when driven by music and their black marks them at least artificially as mourners although brightly they cover it such strange restraints someday I'll break them I love jagged edges not flowery language half the people here shouldn't be ruled off to me why the reason for this barrier between different subtypes of the same species concentric circles an obscured orbit I am hurting them all the ones who care leave the rest she will not hear me retrograde motion ruins our pattern but the longing for a connection lingers past the perfect but obscure bond you and I have formed this is clearly the deepest one here but I am afraid to swim I was never strong and now my bright orange feels horribly inappropriate although if like she I gave up it would become mine but I'd never lose the melancholy I'd still mourn for my life so exhilarating now he's told me about the intellectual melancholy that guidance counselors and psychologists deny its worth only it is abnormal and sick she runs from the depths of her experience I run from mine and towards it is not enough for me do not let me be unfaithful to you kill me first better I should live unstained in limbo than live here a dead woman only he makes me feel good but you make me feel better she is so good to me but she is healthy inherently dangerous to me those healthy ones orange ruins black color ruins everything she has an even tinier hint of the intellectual melancholy than that ballerina but it's more than most sin is in us they are right to ignore me they should keep their distance from a married woman if they can't stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen did anyone ever tell him he has nice eyes I would have I cannot think like that if I'd met him two years ago the world will not kill us I will kill us come possess me control me I am wholly bad let me grieve for the rest of my life so I like that passage come I long for him the way I long to be a ballerina it is something that forsaking my temperament could have been mine nothing matters but blackness so he like that passage well too bad he doesn't make me cry it is a million times worse for me because mine are so much more intense give me something to sing about of course I am better off with you anything else is foolish escapism life is horrible black is another color but the only meaningful one can he sense my solitude and stay away we intellectuals bond rarely but deeply our love is forever this is not just a platitude it does hurt me to talk about your death my stomach chokes I react viscerally to you much more than I used to drive the demons from my brain damn it I'm not allowed to like him but my sinfulness breaks through a ray of burning radiation it will poison love I can pretend to love God and you please tell me it is not all a lie I am dying you would save me do not be afraid to hurt me do not be afraid to kill me I'd rather die than lose you false joy that's all it is where are you not the right setting for a hallucination too dark altogether they don't want me to love you sure they'll accept it in their scared way wouldn't they be so happy if I ended up with a living man I snarl I am protective harsh edges how to fill the silence my heart is melted like wax within me excluding you I have never met anyone so perfect for me as him I swore eternal faithfulness where is my resolve now I am unfaithful in my mind I am unfaithful my record is stained I have dreamed of how perfect life could be without you what is becoming of me his words are weak too weak enough to captivate me so I turn away from him now so what now I am left with grief my life is ruined their life is so insignificant I snarl again no one wants to hear me and I want to hear no one how can I expiate my sins how do you chat when grief is eating you inside out these are my worst memories and they are note even mine I snarl bitter nothing but misery waiting for us where is my optimism now I feel pretty lousy maybe I need to come here to get my fix only writing pleases me what do you have to be haughty about I'll be as lousy as I want I can hear him tell me about him is he nice I'm so happy well too damn bad I'm married why can't I make myself see that I want to hallucinate again but it's not the same as your being here not the same at all everything they write is so pointless love is all that matters I I alone know how to mourn for you as you deserve how frivolous all their desires so my black lends maturity for what do they live I am horrible, forget life I am horrible I have so little self-control where has my virginal innocence gone how long can love last shouldn't lovers just kill themselves before their love runs out they don't know a grief like mine how can they judge what is best for me purify my grief do not let me leave you it is dishonest to everyone she is like a younger me would I wish for her not to suffer what I have suffered they fear for me and rightly so I am not commenting on the Intended I am the Intended your Intended I am dying I need to hurt to see you Bella needs adrenaline I need grief it is my mode of communication our language is tragedy life is so hard and sad without you I am obsessed you are my idee fixe only I don't miss my parents anymore I only miss you murder me hurt me do as you please but do not abandon me if you leave me I will kill myself if you value my existence and you do keep me from them no other lovers for me yet he is only human some repository I can't be happy without you how can they read this how can I bear those words I wrote their horror and darkness apparent tears should fill my eyes if he can speak of you to me did he wonder how a girl could be obsessed with someone like you or did he sympathize with you too you never can tell with those intellectuals only I am afraid to see them all tonight I fear them all the intellectuals I am bored by the rest so much politeness ruins truth but people don't want to hear it that night I had the epiphany that society is built on lies and testing my theory I watched them all crumble before the truth her innocence with its matter of fact candor surprised me a curious worldly innocence are my secrets so cryptic or have finally broken those barriers that harass me at home certainly I am happier here than elsewhere the circles I move in are more mature but either way I will be glad to live in this environment for longer or alone either one but it satisfies me to escape them and better here than there where here they are kinder and understand gravity without misplaced concern so intense I can't breathe my mouth stale tastes of coffee in my mouth but I have to be isolated because I'm still in pain and the horror of what I have written has not yet sunk in with me
(Written from the hospital shortly after Martha's suicide attempt on July 11, 2010, which was precipitated by her declaring her love to Yihan, who rejected her, and her guilt for having betrayed Aleksei.)
July 16, 2010
so once I was so fucking hopeful I've never been this depressed before nothing pleases me he's like a pale copy of the one I loved who is himself a pale copy of you I am living many levels away from the perfection you are and I run away with the first person who reads Nietzsche what kind of a slut am I I was throwing myself at him he was so fucking perfect I have a talent for falling for lost causes these people are essentially healthy I am not a healthy woman I wish he had loved me not for his sake but for my selfish sake they are so fucking lucky those juvenile cancer patients there's nothing beautiful about hospitals they didn't fucking save my life I saved it myself through my weakness
February 13, 2011
(Written during Martha's second hospitalization, this time for expressing suicidal thoughts.)
I am struck by an image of someone I used to be. She was perpetually sad, but given to flights of ecstatic joy; a brilliant writer and musician, but unwilling to work for the service of art; devoted to love as an ideal, but paranoid and solitary in practice. She blossomed over the course of a few adolescent years, but the seeds of her being lay within the dark-haired child who was never quite able to belong to cheerful elementary-school society. She bore a peculiar beauty, but it was a beauty rarely recognized by her peers. Her story may have begun April 6, 1994, the day of my birth; or September 6, 2006, my first day of seventh grade; or perhaps May 9, 2008, the day I first read about Aleksei, an eighteenth-century Russian prince with whom I fell in love. In a sense it is irrelevant when the sad girl's story began. What is more essential is the discovery of the point at which her story began to fade.
This point can be marked as July 4, 2010, a day that has brought me immense joy and suffering. This was the day on which I asked out Yihan, a boy in my Crafting the Essay course at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was moderately tall, with black hair that sometimes fell attractively into his eyes and a rare but exuberant smile.
It is amazing how love can change so suddenly, and yet its presence remain constant. From my earliest time of being capable of love, I have loved, first my parents, then a dead prince, then a living teenage boy, and finally my parents again. I have also loved God, my violin, and humanity. It is amazing how, despite all the changes I have undergone, the primacy of love in my life has remained constant. I have had great trouble because of love. I, too, carry my sorrowful head as though I were proud of that sorrow, even though the only person for whom I can mourn is myself. Is she a noble figure? Perhaps, but nobility is not useful. I thought I wanted to live humbly for a cause. Maybe I do. Masha is right. You must rip this unhealthy love out at the roots.
I would not necessarily destroy myself by changing. There is so much yet to be changed, but I am finally swimming with the current. There is still a sizable part of me that must grieve, but there are also parts that find healthy comfort in tragedy. The tragic heroine is dead; only her ghost remains to haunt me. These are the wheels of progress, rolling inevitably forward. The girl's mind works with increasingly frequent pauses. There is something perverted in her thinking and being, but it can be fixed in the mirror's real model.
When I fell in love with him, I became conscious of an absence I had not yet felt in my life. There is much we lack in life, but it is only upon realizing we miss it that it causes us pain. My soul is black with colors, like her T-shirts. Love is intricate, and only with the death of the lover can it be destroyed completely. Need is always conditional. Hope shines through into our minds when we scrub the windows into them. There is a humble happiness to be found. My illness was always compounded by my conscious and subconscious efforts to help it.
My brain is not entirely corrupted. I will keep going and keep searching for love. I see now that I do not need a man to validate my self-worth, but at the same time I need not fear love. I am not too ashamed of who I have become and, if anything, it is slightly dizzying to see how much I have gained. Man is a social animal, so love is naturally important to him. Solitude in excess is impracticable and harmful. I will not trap myself anymore. A zen attitude seems helpful, and I will try to practice it, but I am still an atheist by choice and default. It is healthy for us to form some connections with one another. It is asking too much of someone to ask him to behave a certain way because you love him. What is more significant than the enduring love is the enduring lover. I will always have something or someone to love, even if it only myself. Someday I will write for production again. There will be such a thing as a diary; indeed, this is it. Promises of fidelity are not always necessary. Love, in a sense, belongs to the moment. It is impossible to devote all of one's love to a particular person; love shines in multiple regions, like a beam of photons. I am resistant because of pride.
February 14, 2011
Things do seem to be getting better. I have to accept that I am not a tragic heroine. I am only a limited person and I must not let myself fall into the trap of sorrowful pride. But happiness does not make for an interesting story. I must choose between an interesting journal and a tolerable life. I would be better off choosing a tolerable life.
I can't think! There is nothing left to say. I am neither happy enough to smile nor sad enough to write. I am denying myself to please everyone else. Their kindness, their break from condescension--these are the direct results of my elevated mood. If I fell again, everyone would be condescending and harsh again. And yet the residents are the opposite. They support me when I am deeply sad, but are no help now.
The key to my mood these days is aridity. Since July 11, 2010, my mood has been arid. In a sense I did die that day. Now I just have to get over myself and realize that my life was only drawn in colors when I wore exclusively black, and that never again will it be so glorious. So why do I listen to music? Everything is arid, regardless. Depressed or content, my life is arid. This is just the way it is. There is no getting around it. But of course I will survive. Indeed, it is people like me--the little beetle-eyed men who scurry around the corridors of the Ministry of Truth--who will survive.
I could have given up so easily. I was a few cheap shots away from the end of me taking for granted most everything that I would have died for just yesterday just yesterday for what do we live we throw ourselves on the benign indifference of the universe to facilitate the gradual regeneration of a man. Death as an Opportunity--impending physical death--Stranger death of identity--
C+P new reflections on life, sense of calm, hope, acceptance
December 13, 2011
Everything is bitterness. The place of study has become a place of mockery and chaos. Even the seemingly studious girl who sat across from me is probably not completely innocent. I know I am not. If I were better, I would be answering questions about thermal physics or learning more advanced calculus than what is offered in the school's highest-level math class. It's funny how love becomes a cold rainy day. Funny, that rainy day is here. Only it has already been here for a year, five months, and two days. Nothing jolts you out of your complacency like a suicide attempt. Don't look too closely at the foundations of peace. Violence breeds violence, except when it is devastating enough to breed peace. Either way it is all bitterness. All food rots. Of course ambrosia would rot too. Manhattan holds no special charm for me now. Yes, it all meant something once, but why pine for what will never be again? I can't make myself. I can't ask for pain. Well, one day we won't feel this pain anymore. Maybe I'll refuse to eat again. Food is boring and disgusting. Fuck their simple-minded attempts to help. Fuck it all!
February 13, 2012
There is no solution. Writing is only another tourniquet, another lie to comfort the vacuum in my soul. I do not know who or what I love anymore. I want to believe in God, and even more, I want to love you. Over and over, I pretend that everything is all right. Well, if I could love I'm certain that I would have loved you. The solution to my misery is death. The solution and natural end to my love is death. I have fleeting thoughts of killing myself with the methods I once developed. They can take away a particular blade but they cannot take away an entire structure. More importantly, they cannot take away my will. I would believe in God if only he would kill me now. And tears, tears, and terrible pain! These are the treasures that love gave me, and is still giving me. If I were to be faithful to my God, my lover, myself, I would kill myself. If I were truly faithful, I would have killed myself long ago.
(Martha wrote most of her journals longhand, but late in her life she began typing them on her computer. In this case, she condensed handwritten journal entries from February 13 to April 15, 2012, into a single typed entry.)
February 13, 2012-April 15, 2012
I am paralyzed. Any word or set of words is insufficient to capture the anguish that takes up its unlikely residence under this green cover. I loved the boy, but what really wrenched me away from my lover, my God, and myself was fiction and scholarship. These twin endeavors, which in my current vacuum I have set up as opposites and enemies, actually form a united front against the more powerful love, and thus force me to reject his advances. I hired mercenaries to repulse my countrymen, and I have almost succeeded. These men I have created I do not love. You, who were God’s creation, I loved, with a passion transcending all the bounds of reason and sanity.
Today is the feast of St. Valentine. He who was a martyr is now remembered for his patronage of lovers. You, whom I considered a martyr, were the sole object of my desire until I met the boy whom I would love for transient months, but whose unknown destructive capacities would ruin my eternity. I wanted to write fiction, for I grow sick of love, but like a deer longs for water my soul longs heretically and irrationally for you. Fear is a preservative, like so many potentially harmful chemicals. If I go to Harvard and later teach at Oxford, I will never be so happy as I was holding your hand. I have millions of tiny memories like the shards of a broken mirror. Now I find your story vaguely disgusting, and my dreams of you pungent with the odor of a rotting feast. Today, though, there is nothing to do but remember with agony the love that used to be. My own worldly conscience is my worst enemy; it urges me to cast my pearls before swine. I, who have been nearly ruined by love, cannot pull myself away from the service of this greatest virtue. I have been humbled by my God; he has forced me to behold his wrath and his undying love. Where is my once unshakable faith? I cannot believe that it has perished forever. If it has, then my soul is necessarily and irrevocably lost. But let me pray.
I still desire you, but this desire has always been primarily metaphysical rather than sexual. Words are powerful. They can send me to places where I do not belong.
I wish I could heal you.
My God has pursued me with his fathomless love, and His grace is convincing me that I will one day touch my asymptote. Rapture has come upon my soul; I sing with the sweet anguish of an exiled daughter. Last year on this day I wrote of love and watched Anastasia. The day before was your birthday, and on it I felt the stirrings of a smothered love, who, like the eternal being that he is, could not remain in the tomb forever. My God has never forsaken me, and I am learning never again to forsake him.
The world is spread out before me, and still I am trapped in the awful beauty of my past. Today will feel like the spring when I first met you.
Creation is insufficient. Now I am trying to replace true and painful love with artificial memories. I loved you perhaps too much, if pagan moderation takes its place above Christian absolutes. As I smiled at Yra this morning I swore that I would give you up for good, not for some high and noble reason, but because my love for you is utterly incompatible with sociability and reason, and I wanted to be able simply to smile at my friends and family and acquaintances. If I shut myself down long enough, if I never resurface from my watery tomb to take a gasping breath, then I will be the successful academic or businesswoman or possibly even writer that I aspire to be. I solved Hamlet’s dilemma neither by taking arms against a sea of troubles nor by suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune but rather by ignoring and denying these whips and scorns of time.
My once-beautiful memories have rotted. The music seeps into my brain – not my soul; I have no soul anymore – like the tender drops of rain that follow a thunderstorm. See how I recycle words. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? I am not deep enough for mortal anguish. March 30, 2012. The day rings of June 4, 2009, of Lady Macbeth’s madness. It is the day after the catastrophe, the day after the manic expectations and the crash, the day when the devastation begins to sink in. It also rings of July 10, 2010, but I know there is no spectacularly worse day to follow today, only tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, to creep in this petty pace from day to day. Faulkner sought to tell of the sound and the fury that signify nothing, only to find that under his practiced and imperfect pen they still, like every other facet of man’s worthless and faceless existence, signified nothing. My God, I know you mean nothing and have empirically meant nothing from the moment the singularity exploded. 5:18 p.m. indeed. You and Harvard have colluded to make me miserable. I plod through the worthless day, as I plodded through June 4, but at least today I am wearing black; indeed, I trudge through these vacant halls in my rejection dress. I do not even fear the death of my soul; rather, I am certain of it. The titles of intellectual and moral and artistic greatness will pass me by like so many fireflies that burn and die, like so many heretical martyrs that do the same, praying for a heavenly union that will never be consummated. For my consummation, I can only hope that the world I so loathe will reciprocate my cries of hate. There will be no sexual healing for me, nor any academic greatness to assuage my wounded consciousness. I will not write more on this inauspicious page.
I doubt it will be possible once again to pour out such a lovely ecstasy of anguish. I need to leave this temple of misery. Tomorrow I will behold the radiant and icy face of my latest love. Jesus was wrong. There is no hope, and therefore no faith, and therefore no reason for love. What fool would give up a chance to play at Carnegie Hall for love of a dead man? I have gone for thirty minutes without writing your name or the second person by which I refer to you. In a minute I will abandon the truth surrounding me in service of a worthless universal truth. Too often I have taken the other path.
Words, words, words, as the unhappy prince proclaimed. You, my unhappy prince, faded well before I came into partial intimacy with my present traveling companions. For months I have left every gateway open to myself save those afforded by the cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and love. My former guide and all her friends would hardly approve if they knew what unwholesome and dreadful cause drew me into the doors they so cheerfully frequent. The conversion for which I have long prayed may finally be occurring, now that it holds no charm for me. What cruel irony! I cannot hear Rick tell Ilsa what she will regret for the rest of her life without remembering the boy who utterly, albeit unconsciously, betrayed me. Yes, physically I am still pure, even as I was when I first loved you. Today, and for the rest of my life, I will harden my heart and reject both you and my God. I turn my atheistic mind to integral calculus. Knowledge will lead me out of the pit of religious and romantic belief.
Who would have thought that a book so far removed in tone and cultural background from my life would have proven so relevant to my vanishing yet stubborn condition? Your name – Aleksei – still holds a special charm for me, and I am still loathe to hear my companions repeat it in their harsh American accents. Yesterday I saw the woman who had once been my pastor, and at the memory of God and you, my heart beat itself into a frenzy and my soul struggled to free itself from the cage into which my excessive prudence had forced it. I have been exploring sex and sadism from the confines of a rational mind and controlled libido. I have dared to explain away my love for you as yet another manifestation of my sadism, but at moments like these I wonder whether it is not a miracle wrought by God that I should love you.
April 30, 2012
I won my battle with depression the way Nazi Germany won the Second World War.
The good is the enemy of the great, and the good has triumphed.
I have pretensions of a literary nature. Well, let me have them, for I will certainly not have his love.
By a triumph of the will I will reject you, like Depression-era Germans rejecting the morals that had hitherto guided their lives.
Work makes free, as they wrote on the crowning arch of death. So it will be in my life.
Someday there will not be a brand new day.
Love, like God, is dead.
Like Hitler, I was the architect of my own destruction, but unlike him I did not take down swaths of an entire race and an entire continent with me. Indeed, I failed even to demolish myself.
(Martha wrote this entry on the third anniversary of the day she disclosed her love for Aleksei to her parents.)
June 3, 2012
Today is June 3. It seems I only write in this document on anniversaries. “God knows,” I repeat to myself, in various contexts and sometimes as a throwaway line. “God knows.” I loved him so, but I loved you more. Perhaps Yihan had little meaning in the scheme of my salvation. You may well have been the Diomedes who wrenched me away from my divine Troilus. But if I must choose between God and you, I would choose you wholeheartedly. I see that now. I see now that you, not he, were the instrument of my worldly and spiritual damnation. Now there is thunder, creating pathetic fallacy, as in Wuthering Heights. Heaven did not seem to be my home, and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth, where I woke sobbing for joy. If I must choose, I will choose you. Did he not say that love is the greatest virtue, and if you have faith to move mountains, but lack love, your sacrifices are in vain? But I know that the love of which he spoke was not the kind I know. The kind I know should only be directed to God, and like a fool I directed it towards you and threw away all my hopes for paradise. Indeed, I will be damned, and how I long that you, my Adam, will love me enough to choose me over him just as I have done for you. Jesus said that you must love your neighbor as yourself, no more and no less. How true that was! I loved you more than myself, and from there it was not a large step to love you more than him. Will the heavens fall? They may well fall on me. How I long for our love to rent the curtain of the temple and blacken the sun from out of the sky! My love was nothing humble or saintly. It was heroic and proud. For an instant, you, a mortal man, eclipsed God in the mind of your fellow mortal. I have tasted from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and have found God wanting. Now I see what love is. God’s universe is only another system, another kingdom, and if his laws are true, as they appear to be, then any other love is a sin, but what a grand and gorgeous sin it is to reject him for you! If you do the same for me, as I know you can, for you did it briefly for Afrosinia, our tragic happiness will be complete. For the most part I stopped loving you, but subconsciously the embers always glowed. From the moment you crossed my path and handed me the scissors with which to cut the thread of my salvation, the fire has been burning, and nothing, not even God, will ever put it out.
(On June 14, 2012, Martha attended her senior prom in New Rochelle. The next night, she addressed this entry to a boy she had danced with.)
June 15, 2012
Thank you for dancing with me. In all my years of high school, I had never come so physically close to a boy as I came to you last night. For all the months I had spent in obsessive and unrequited love, for all the painful hours spent dreaming and fantasizing, for all the tortured interpretations of love songs, I found no boy's touch to lift me from my misery. Just last night, on the bus to New Rochelle, I sat alone at my window and considered returning to my ghostly beloved Aleksei, the eighteenth-century Russian prince who has been the greatest love of my life. I have hallucinated his touch, and believed that he was my husband, and endangered my life and my salvation for love of him. Yes, all this I have done--and done wholeheartedly--without the slightest physical reward. I rejected him in summer 2010 in a vain attempt to gain a living boy's love. Since that time, I have nearly forgotten the living boy, but I have never been able to purge my heart of Aleksei's memory. He has given me periodic bliss and nearly constant torment. Yet as long as I remained untouched by a living boy, he stayed the best option for my lonely and passionate heart.
July 11, 2012
Today is my grandmother's funeral, and once again I feel your presence. It is the sweet kiss of rain after a drought, the taste of food after a fast, the flood of light into a room of darkness. Indeed, it was as though the sun had burned out, and only now in the time of grief for all the ordinary and extraordinary people around me does the long-dead nebula converge again into a shining factory of light. Only in death our love goes on, and at the moment I cannot love you any more than I do. But hold my hand and we're halfway there, hold my hand and I'll take you there. I did not believe hard enough, but loving was enough. These wounds will heal one day, and the scars they leave will be a source of virtue and joy to me just as the stigmata bring virtue and joy to us all. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. For he has brought forth the captives into the Zion of eternal life. I have been like a woman dreaming of false things, but now my silent mouth is filled with laughter, and my mute tongue with rejoicing. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. At my graduation it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for her." The Lord has done great things for me, and you and I are glad indeed. For the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. For the Lord has restored my fortunes, bringing forth torrents in my heart's desert. I who have sowed feebly and tearfully shall reap, like you and like my dead grandmother, in great joy. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Although we have gone forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, we shall come back rejoicing, carrying the sheaves of the Lord. The Lord has done great things for us; forever shall we be filled with joy.
You hold my hand and walk me home, I know. You gave me that ghostly kiss that will one day become real. You brought me tears and stirred my fears. For months, nay, for exactly two years I have been living without you. You took all of my love, but with withering trust I wrenched it away, and in so doing ripped open the vein of lifeblood leading to my heart.
You have little charm, but still I placed your arm around my neck. I longed esoterically to make love to you, but at the boundary of physics and metaphysics there is only war and confusion. I drove you, my other soul, out of my heart by the power of mercenary demons, and still you did not forget me. I am grateful, for even as I hated you I never stopped loving you, and as I dreamed of suffering men you remained my truest dream. There were no precedents for this love; the canvas of our life was wide open, and we alone, through divine inspiration, could paint it.
You rarely acknowledged my guilt. Blinded to my flaws, you perpetually accepted me, your prodigal wife, with arms schooled in the embrace of God.
So have faith, darling, for though the suicidal spirit no longer stirs within me, still I know that one day I will be with you in paradise.
August 7, 2012
My love for Aleksei has died completely, and with it has died the possibility of meaning apart from God. I held his hand, and perhaps he held mine, but our embrace has been lost in the black hole that is God. All the information in the universe will be swallowed there. If human beings exist, I may be the last one. But I look at myself in the mirror with my puffy cheeks and grimacing lips and wretched eyes, and I know that being human means nothing. Soon I will start college, and once again my grand suffering will be rendered mundane by the exigencies of daily life. It does not matter now. Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold him and he sold me. Damnation was intellectually my greatest fear, and pain was physically my greatest fear, and together these fears ripped me from the arms of my lover. My miracle has been granted me. I have a chance at salvation, for the one man capable of taking God’s place in my soul has become as nothing to me. Was it not for love of him that I rejected the friendship of other mortals? Was it not for love of him that I gave up the chance to play at Carnegie Hall? Was it not for love of him that I tried to kill myself? But succeeding in that last act was asking too much. He has become for me an object of reproach. I wish I could love him, but I do not. He has become for me what he was for everyone else all along. He is, for the first time ever, a mere historical figure, devoid of present meaning and unable to wreak changes in a living woman’s life. The other one, Yihan, means even less to me now. I see his posts on the Internet and spend five seconds looking at them before scrolling down to more important matters. God, is this what I have come to? You have dragged me to hell without even granting me the satisfaction of death. What do I care for fictional heroes whom I know to be false, but who nevertheless mean more to me now than the man for whom I once risked eternal death? Even in death our love was supposed to go on, but this is God’s world, and he will not forgive his beloved for loving. It always came down to words. Soon I may reject the words I loved, and choose only God and the sterile, happy life he offers. If I live a decent life, and later go to heaven, I will never again be so happy as I was holding Aleksei’s hand. If I break my vow, and fall in love again, I will never regain the damning ecstasy of our love. And if I become rich, and give all my money away to charity, and have confidence to move mountains, and face persecution, and die a martyr for my faith, still it will never be enough. He is no longer mine. God could be mine, if only I would break my stony heart a little more and thus let him in. The coffee I drink to fuel my miserable consciousness grows not less but more bitter with every sip I take. Yes, I am crashing. Yes, the flame that burned within me has gone out. Yes, this flame was the mark of mania, and yes, its extinction represents a victory for health and safety. Should not health and safety come first? Was that not what my father told me when I was young enough to accept that comforting tenet? I opened my eyes when I fell in love, and now that love is dead I must shut them again. God is my greatest enemy, but it must not remain this way. I must destroy the enmity I have built up between us. After all, I no longer possess a human man to love. Only God remains. Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me. And after you betray the one you love, you cannot love him anymore. It is not possible. Well, my prophecy has come true. If I return from exile, I will run into God’s embrace, and abandon all hope of a greater life than what he can offer. There will be victory, and though it will be wrought by Christ and not by me, still it will represent the greatest miracle of my life. I will love God.
August 14, 2012
Civilization is built on lies. I knew this during my lonely months of love, but my periodic breaches of my code of secrecy led to my betrayal of the man I loved. Now I cannot think of him without boredom and disgust.
I want nothing to do with the union of two living bodies and souls through marriage and sex. When another man fucks me, I want to offer it to you. I am too proud to love normally. I want them to be nothing but bodies to me, human toys to lead me to you, my ultimate toy and tool. You are only the means by which I betray God.
Anorexic girls do to their bodies what I want to do to my entire being. It is holy when a Muslim fasts during Ramadan, but when a girl starves herself so that she might become skinny, she is mentally ill. This is part of the double standard of delusion and faith. If enough people believe it, it is a religion, but if only one person holds it to be true, it is a delusion. Now I dismiss you, and it is a good thing just as much as it is my own choice. I stepped into the light, and now that I am a part of that electromagnetic system of sight, I cannot see you as worthwhile. This is God’s triumph. Any woman who loves a man more than she loves God has no chance at salvation.
August 15, 2012
Sometimes I deliberately step closer to my grave. The entire universe is my enemy. The storied divide between heaven and earth means nothing to me. I am gravely flawed by the standards of both worlds. The prophecy has come true. My beloved has been annihilated from my heart, and although all else remains more or less as it was, the universe has turned to a mighty stranger. When love goes, it is gone, but I know where it goes. It is swallowed up by God just as information is annihilated by a black hole. There is a reason for the information loss paradox, and his name is God. Ultimately all the glories of the world will be destroyed, and only his glory will remain. What I did not realize until this week was the humiliation that is a part of hell. If the damned were only in pain, they might have a shot at glory, but their involuntary reactions to that pain make them appear wretched to all who see them. As the psalmist wrote: All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads. But what the psalmist forgot was that God did not behold him as worthless, and that because of his faith he, the humiliated sufferer, would be seen as holy by future generations. I have no such claim at eternal glory, and at any rate the psalmist’s glory is only a reflection of God’s infinite perfection.
August 16, 2012
I want a man who is a worthy target for my heretical love.
(Martha wrote this in her journal on a Sunday when she had gone to Mass, the day before her death. It may have been a line of fiction for one of her novels, or a description of her own experience, or both.)
August 26, 2012
Last line: As she let the Host dissolve in her mouth, her troubled thoughts scattered in the face of the divine mercy.