CW: Don’t read this if you are in any sort of a bad place. I’m physically safe. I’m mentally shattered. You don’t need to do anything. There’s nothing anyone can do anyway unless they had serious political connections. I am not a danger to myself or others. No, the danger, as always, is from others, and this post is more about trying to survive their latest devastation. This post is about how it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to try to survive. It just never ends. It’s a dark post – even though I promise I’m safe – so please read with caution. I’m the scant protection someone else has from the 9th Circle of Hell. I won’t ever abandon that responsibility to ease my own pain. I’ve been on the other end of that type of abandonment and still feel the hurt and weight of the responsibility it left me with. I will survive this and keep fighting as best I can. I just wish deeply right now that I didn’t have to.
People tend to forget that the 9th Circle of Hell isn’t just “the worst part of Hell.” It’s not just shorthand for “really bad shit.” The crime that is the worst of the worst is actually very well-defined and very specific. The 9th Circle of Hell is where the worst sinners go because of the ultimate crimes they committed: betrayal and treachery. I named the 9th Circle of Hell because it is all forms of that.
It is Caina, the land of betrayers of family, whom I knew firsthand throughout childhood. What betrayal is felt harder than that by those who should have protected you early on instead of using you as a human shield against their own demons? What other than betrayal do you call a childhood that never was and the passing of the blame of taking away that childhood onto the child-who-tried-to-be-the-adult-but-failed?
It is Antenora, the land of betrayers to country. What other than betrayal do you call a state that is a nationwide model for the destruction of social services at the hands of those stained Red not just by their politics but by the blood of the foreshortened lives of their social eugenics? Is that not the modern-day betrayal of all that America is?
It is Ptolomea, the land of betrayal of guests. What other than betrayal do you call agencies that open their “homes” to the vulnerable, take state contracts as a modern contract of guest rights and then abuse, maim and neglect those who reside under those roofs?
And it is Judecca, the land of crimes against Lord and benefactors, where those who should uphold the law and basic human decency go to church on Sunday and yet smile as they accept their thirty pieces of silver from the Ptolomeans to look the other way.
But it’s never any of the sinners who end up encased in ice. My 9th Circle of Hell isn’t just. No, it’s the ones who fight against it all that end up frozen: voiceless, helpless and betrayed even when they think they have won.
We won a victory, right? We named abuse and substantiated and found proof and that should mean something right? It does, apparently. It means a final form of treachery, because that is what the 9th Circle of Hell is. It means that the victim is branded as much as the sinner. It means that after finally finding another place to go – there are so few places anywhere in that God-forsaken state that haven’t already been closed for lack of funding or for abuse that even the Judases couldn’t manage to cover up – the new agency was able to look at the scarlet T for “has been through recent trauma” stamped on my family member’s records and use that as a reason to refuse to take him at the last minute. Yes, you read that right. As if it isn’t bad enough for someone who can’t speak up to be abused in the first place, or for us to have to discover it and fight the Ptolemeans and the Judases to get any “justice” for it. Now the fact that we actually did prove it means he’s considered too “volatile” because of possible trauma-and-PTSD-related behaviors in a new place to be worth the state funding that would follow him. He’s “too complicated” and “too behaviorally risky” because he’s tainted by trauma that, of course, he never asked for and other Ptolemeans perpetrated. In my 9th Circle of Hell, land of legalized betrayal, it’s perfectly within the rules to drop someone from a placement the day they were supposed to enter the new agency simply because they had been abused in the last one. It’s legal to evict the victim. After all, there are so many others desperate for a place that the money will flow anyway…
In Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell, the sinners are the ones encased in ice to be punished. In mine, the victims are the frozen ones: frozen into dissociation at the idea of innocents simply pitched onto the street because of others’ crimes. There are no beds in trauma hospitals in my 9th Circle of Hell, especially not for those with developmental disabilities. The Antenorans would never deign to fund a place for those they considered less than human to go to heal. No, the politicians of the 9th Circle of Hell speak about how those who are sick or wounded must have done something to deserve what God gave them. Why provide treatment or even health insurance? God heals those who deserve to be saved. (But no one seems to remember that the Antichrist, if he truly exists, will speak evil and call it the word of God…)
There are no kindly other agencies if we just look hard enough. Not in my 9th Circle of Hell. The waiting lists for the dubious guest rights of the Ptolomeans are long enough that desperate penitents throw themselves on the mercy of any shelter they can find, even knowing that no promises of safe shelter have been made. The agencies can pick and choose whom to mistreat, and the going rate for safety seems to be far higher than thirty pieces of silver, or I’d gladly pay it to any Judas I could find.
There’s not even any obvious way to escape to Purgatory, as the Blue states are just as bureaucratic and strongly enforce the gates to prevent line jumpers. And there’s no River Lethe to let me just forget my journey through any of those circles at the end of it.
I’ve dreamed of one, and when in Hell I understand more than I wish to of why another might choose the 7th Circle of Hell over the 9th. Why they might see it as the only escape. If it were just me, I might convince myself any end to pain was worth it. I’m so very, very tired of this Hell. I am so deeply encased in the never-ending ice that in any just world would surround the sinners instead of the supplicants.
I’ve passively wished for an end to pain for as long as I can remember, from my earliest life among the Cainanites to today as I struggle to contemplate my next steps after the last-minute betrayal by another Ptolomean. I have never acted on those wishes to date, and I hope I never will. No matter how bad it gets.
I fled my 9th Circle of Hell and promised I’d never willingly return. That means I can’t seek that way out of pain even when it’s all too much, because that would make me a betrayer. That would make me no better than the residents of any 9th Circle of Hell. When Dante’s metaphysical 7th Circle of twisted woods seems less painful than a single day more in my very physical 9th Circle – when it seems that it doesn’t matter whether I stay or go because it’s not like staying to “protect” has accomplished anything, anyway – I wonder if that’s how one particular Cainanite felt decades ago? I wonder if he knew he’d end up a Cainanite in my 9th Circle of Hell? Or if he truly believed that he was leaving innocents in more capable hands who could somehow accomplish what he could not?
Those hands – my hands – did not. Or, it feels again tonight like they did not. I fear again tonight they will never do anything but drop everything even as they try to hold on.
Becoming a Cainanite myself won’t spare me the pain of that fear, though, and what else would I become if I gave in to the strong (but still passive) dream of an end to these months and years of my persistent failure? I’d be the second person to abandon someone innocent to the worst circle of Hell to attempt to buy myself a reprieve, and I’d know if I did that this time there wouldn’t even be a kid-who-pretended-to-be-an-adult left to take over the burden.
I don’t know if the burden of the 9th Circle of Hell and its never-ending-series of betrayals shattering me, again and again, these past few months makes me sympathize more with one of those Cainanites who offloaded their burden to me years ago? Or if the fact I yearn on these types of days to escape – and still don’t make that choice – makes me all the more angry at them for dropping a burden I’ve kept having to be strong enough to hold at all costs?