Cancer of the Soul

After I was diagnosed, I confided to some close friends that I was psychopathic.  I respected them enough and felt that they deserved an explanation for many of the peculiarities of those friendships.  In general, they were accepting but wanted assurance that I would not play games with them.  However, I think it was one response that intrigued me the most.  It was from a very close friend who had gotten to know me quite well over the years.  I asked him if he saw my revelation coming.

It isn’t really a surprise.  I think we all knew that you had stage four cancer of the soul.

I know he was saying such in jest, but it really resonated with me.  It resonated because it reminded me how much humanity strives to equate humanity with “goodness”.  We speak of souls as being the unique and core components of those we meet.  We think of them as being inherently good with “damaged” souls belonging to the damned.  The religious and philosophical connotations are easily apparent.  Those that are not good are relegated to second class status and they are believed to be inhuman in many ways.  My friend did not mean such, but his statement clearly reflects how much others believe that to be amoral (or immoral) is to be fundamentally broken.

If souls exist and are part of the human condition, then I prefer my souls as I do my lungs: with a hint of tar and blackness.  There is a certain vanilla flavor that comes with the pious and the strictly moral and empathic.  They are so concerned for the well-being of others that they lose sight of their own strengths and their own individuality.  They become lost to the larger mass of society, because their actions are demanded and expected by that larger mass.

I may have a cancerous soul in the eyes of others, but I will never lose my individuality.  I am not concerned about what others would think of my unmasked self.  I am only concerned that I am able to remain free to be me.  Yes, I may have a radically different set of proclivities than most, but that is simply another area in which my individuality is present.  The “goodness” of my soul means nothing in this life.  Black and burned, diseased or not, we all have an obligation to ourselves to remain true to ourselves.  It just may be abhorrent to the eyes of others.

Embracing Shadow


  1. Anonymous says

    I may have a cancerous soul in the eyes of others, but I will never lose my individuality.

    This is very interesting in context of what you have said about your weak sense of self. You don’t have a clearly-defined persona, but you still strongly assert your individuality? What is individuality, if not personality?

    I am not concerned about what others would think of my unmasked self.

    Then why do you wear a mask?

    • Anathema says

      Astute observations.

      I value individuality over most anything else. However, you are correct. My sense of self is weak. I don’t believe that to negate a strong sense of individuality, however. I know that I possess a core self, I just cannot articulate it. The facets change depending on the mask or colors being worn, but there is an underlying unity. I like to think of it akin to a common statistics problem. “Given X data, find a confidence interval Y that describes statistic Z.” Z exists and is fixed, but can only be approximated for reporting based off sample data and reported with a level of confidence. The same applies to my core self and personality. I have all these data points, but I do not know what the true value is. That makes me no less of an individual and does not lessen my feelings of individuality. It just means I cannot know for sure what that individuality reflects.

      As for being unconcerned what others think of my latent state yet still wearing a mask: I was somewhat vague with that statement. In a vacuum, I do not care whether others see what lies behind the mask. I feel no obligation to conform to societal expectations that make little sense to me and fail to serve my own goals. However, the ability to remain “free” must be weighed more highly. I don’t mean freedom just in the sense of not being incarcerated but also in the sense that others’ perceptions must be used in order to remain in the most advantageous position possible. I wear my masks because the alternative is to have a stigma around me that would make the game much harder to play and would put me at a disadvantage. So, in summary, I truly do not care that I am part of the “disease” of society. I do care that I am perceived to not be a plague-bearer. It is a distinction between group membership and individual gain.

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