Heaven Or Hell, I Was Screwed

There was a particular period of time when I was a kid when my natural predilection toward an abject fear of death took a turn toward the obsessive. I couldn't sleep at night. I would lie awake deep into the dark with the sweat of anxiety prickling between my skin and the bedsheets.

look both ways

It wasn't dying that terrified me so much as what came after. You see, it had suddenly occurred to me that religion, the Christianity into which I was being indoctrinated, might actually point to something real. If what I was being told wasn't just a bunch of stories held in the bookcase alongside my chapter books but an account of real and true things, then that meant heaven was a real and true place.

Heaven. My god. That place with the angels and the clouds and the all-the-time-happy-happy might actually be real.

On the face of it, being eternally happy and kind of passive sounded alright, but the more I thought about it, the more heaven became HEAVEN, which in turn became HEAVEN. As I had been given to understand it, everything there was the same forever and ever. It's not like you were just given the opportunity to be happy and took it. You had no choice in the matter. In heaven, happiness just was. It was the only was.

I started to feel this horrible dread, because one day there would be this unstoppable imposition of eternal sameness, this pervasive adequation, a hegemonic psychosis. It was the grimmest thing I had ever considered, and if my family, friends, and the entirety of Christendom were correct, that's where I would be going if I was good.

The more I thought about it, and the more it twisted my stomach into a sick knot, the clearer it became: heaven was just about as good as hell, and, in fact, hell sounded better. Stuff actually happened in hell.

I was pretty sure that my terrible feelings about heaven were enough to send me to hell, but it barely mattered. I figured, as a mortal being, I was in a double bind.

I was ten years old, and I was already fucked.