Burning a body

Reading Time: 11 minutes

I’m in the strangest, most irrational slump. I feel no different from when I was a teenage girl, googling ‘what is wrong with me’ or on the verge of asking strangers on the internet to make me feel better. I later learn that kindness is always self-serving in some form, and to not feed into some internet stranger’s fantasy of saving people over and over. (But have I not been saved so many times by people who did not know they were saving me?)

What does it mean when you want to become a conflagration while knowing the aftermath well? Welcoming everyone around me into a burning field of embers, somewhere in between wasteland and rampart…

a collection of clippings, thought dumps, and moments from the past few weeks

This time, grueling over my own self––more than anyone else. My gender and my body hold my soul captive, I’m too disgusting to let my feet touch the ground when the sun is at its peak. (Almost no different from spending four years of high school in a burning country under the shade, inside closed rooms, in places where the least amount of people could see me…) There was a first day and a second where I woke up unafraid of my body, and now I’m steps back. It’s almost like gender was an instinct, a rush I cannot physically chase. Playing Bella’s Lullaby on blast in Seattle, Washington (hours away from anything close to what I dream of) partly because it’s ironic and because part of me wants the storyline badly.

I wonder how much of my fascinations are rooted in desire to get out of my own body? The love for fiction, history only when it relates to the stuff of myths because the active parts still slit people who think of bodies the way you do. When does a body start feeling like your own? I gained weight so I could no longer feel bones or curves in the places where they shouldn’t be, wear clothes two sizes too big to hide it all further. I can’t see myself as an object in the future, unsure of how to represent myself. (Maybe this is why I can only see myself in the short-term?) I know any body must be desired to some degree, and when I put myself out all I can think about is how repulsed everyone is. And perhaps this is why whenever I dream, it’s in the third-person, an I exist as if only a blur…

SIGNS OF DYSPHORIA: A sense of misalignment, disconnect, or estrangement from your own emotions. Knowing you’re somehow different from everyone else, and wishing you could be normal like them. Washing your body over and over as if scraping everything on the surface can fix the insides.
A seeming pointlessness to your life, and no sense of any real meaning or ultimate purpose. “Each day was like checking off a box, knowing that eventually the days would run out, but not really knowing how else to spend the time.”
Checking to see if there’s any purpose to your presence by disappearing completely, and realizing everything is much better off without you.
A direct parallel line of intrusions running next to your active consciousness, begging to take you away from simply existing.
Attempting to fix this on your own through various coping mechanisms. Promising to let alive again the next day, failing this over and over.
Continual difficulty with simply getting through the day. In the absence of a well-defined identity and a strong sense of self-direction, other people’s obligations filled the void.
Killing the person you have grown to be slowly. And then all at once.

Last Saturday I fell asleep on the balcony while re-reading Alex Tizon’s My Family’s Slave (I wanted to experience something ethically destructive that night) and my mind resurfaced all these tiny vignettes about my life––the stuff of cash the only manmade material to truly end life; I thought about my bedroom in Manila, how we lived in a whole house with a constantly broken inside, thinking we were relatively well-off until all these tiny factoids of my youth came to truth. (And again I thought my life’s worst mistake was moving to America for college, a weight which I’m crumbling under…) Tizon didn’t look so different in the mirror, if you turn suburban whatever, USA into the dirtiest parts of Manila: “Today even the poor can have utusans or katulongs (“helpers”) or kasambahays (“domestics”), as long as there are people even poorer. The pool is deep.

Surprisingly, I haven’t cried in the way that Tizon described in ages. Maybe because it’s the tears that I would share with other people. “I felt the twitching in my face that usually preceded tears, but I wouldn’t cry this time.” In that sentence I was reverted back to my family living room, piles of boxes and shoes strummed across the hallway that no one would ever stay in. Another thing: we always stayed in our own bedrooms, never sharing rooms together. At night, I remember tiptoeing across to get a drink of water while someone punched the monitor and fought in the balcony. It seemed like almost every meal we shared together involved puffy eyes and awkward silence. I never really knew my family.

“So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I’d spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding.”

One of my parents’ favorite stories to tell was this awful one where I was a screaming, spoiled child. We had made a trip to some mall towards the center of Manila, normally a two-hour drive. In the department store, I had fallen in love with this tiny red table set of plastic that probably costed no more than $30 – but it was too much. I needed it though, I was a Straight A student and started getting annoyed because doing my homework on the floor meant these corrugated marks from the tiles would show up all the time (and me just shoving anything I owned into a plastic folder made thins remarkably worse). The red table could open itself up from the top, revealing places to keep paper! pencils! the stuff of dreams. I played with it for half an hour in the mall and bursted into tears in the car ride home, shouting and screaming until we drove back and got that table/chair set –– a little bitch begging for things.

Similar concept but not the exact one, this is about $20

We bought the set when the department store was about to close. I remember the lights turning off one-by-one, vague talks about how apologetic my parents were to the cashiers.

I sat on this red table over and over, using it as my desk until it was physically incapable of supporting my weight and slowly broke apart. It lasted until my teen years because I had no other desk, fashioned together with a huge roll of grey duct tape when the chair’s legs were dented, and then chipped off. The tape then left sticky, yellow residue that last for years. I would take every meal, study for hours, and build websites off this shitty red table. This one of our greatest expenses, one of my most stupid outbursts, but also maybe a testimony to how I’ll hold onto everything until its death.

In a month now, I make nearly a year’s worth of mortgage payments that my father used to cry about and encircle in blue, a number that I would watch him take on above the mini-refrigerator in my parent’s room day after day. All these tiny practices I still carry. Saving everything until my drawers are holders for trash that holds new bits of trash, how I’ve ignored two decades of my hair all matted and fucked up because of how afraid I was to spend $6 on a haircut, living with a broken box television for six years in my childhood bedroom that I would have to stick a pencil in to swap the show on. How I was born while my parents were taking medical exams, and that they’ll sooner die before I land on my feet, and how they would tell me that each procedure granted them maybe $10 at most. $10. 500 pesos. I binged in my bathroom because I was so disgusted at spending 50 cents on food a day, bloat a reward and sign of sustenance. Now, in America, with portion sizes two people too big I overorder food as if for a family of four––this the only way I know to eat, in bulk until it drives everyone mad because for two decades I stomached nearly nothing.
The only thing that saved Tizon from judgment was his death after his article was decided to be crowned as an Atlantic cover story. There were already millions waiting to call him depraved things, be better saviors than he, their heart gutted with curated words from a man who spent his entire lifetime seeing this all through. I think about the generations of lolas ‘I’ had, in the most dispossessive way possible.

I come into the practice of speaking about myself as if already extinct… I have fatally forgotten that the words I speak and write in seconds may last other peoples’ lifetimes. I wonder if we can write to our own self with this much intensity. Each way out is as arduous, so why be shamed for taking one?

Did I turn out okay?

I don’t know if I’m becoming more self-aware or if it’s just that I’ve always been a terrible person – and the inability to distinguish from the two is making me feel like utter shit. When does an intrusive thought become something that drives your whole soul? Why do all my sins only become so when they’re on the table––as if my being here isn’t one of its own, too?

This self-awareness is entrenching itself on paralysis. I’m absolutely mortified at how I’ve lived so empty and narcissistically the past years, how every bit of my happiness seems to come at the expense of another (if I try hard enough, I can unearth that I too was responsible for wars), how I’m the only being allowing myself to suffer this catastrophically, and perhaps worst of all… the narcissism inherent to the act of self-destruction is the only thing granting me energy to stay here, the most selfish act of all.

Affirmations from the dead as empty things. I love yous to friends repeated to the point of delusion. The most beautiful things in this world to me are all manmade objects, the stuff of destiny and ambition, the materials fundamentally irreplaceable without the chalk that birthed material. I stuff in my head alternative futures, making no effort to veer the world into their course. In the day of my coming everything should be at peace. I don’t know it quite yet but I’m obsessed with the practices of longevity, of archival, of histories that concern me.


How different am I from sites that have been the object of internet study, like the deathdrone guy? We’re nearing a decade of misery, loss, breakup notes, documented familial estrangement, and breakdowns on a public webpage. This is the only domain I’ve set to autorenew for the decades after I go. In the return to the web of the ‘personal’, how will our norms and way of sharing change? Websites are rarely drawn together as thoughts, they’re mostly fully-fleshed sentences. I want to be half-formed and illogical, many things in history are non-sensible and just are; no justification for existence necessary.

For years I lied about diagnosis or receiving any form of help. Nothing has ever happened, really. It’s unfortunate that I want to seem like I’m getting better when I’m really not. I don’t think I ever will get some form of help, and this makes me terrifying to be with. It’s so fucking crushing to live in a family of medical doctors and be the one sinking. Getting help feels like fucked up antics, always followed by a trail of questions about whether your head is going to explode (yes), whether you’re crazy (no), or are a joke to the family and want everyone to think bad of us (yes/no); I know that it’s always the people paying who are afraid to deal with this reality, and themselves as a potential source of pain, but I wonder if one day I will ever even make enough money to speak to someone and have them actualize all the dark things in my head again and again. I think I’ll pass for now.

In our house in Manila, I can’t remember the last time I slept on a bedframe. I sleep on stacked mattresses covered with thin cloths that cover plastic, plastic covering each ounce of the breaking polyester batting and cotton leaking out, yellowing and splotching from the years. When I sleep in the corner of a shared twin mattress in America, I tell myself that this was the promised dream.


Trying to turn this into something productive is a little harrowing: I am aware of the space I occupy, the treaties that fall through because of me, the space I occupy so much in that I seek to take over so little of it, the poetics of the world are no longer enough to hold me on, I see no difference in radical newness to incremental truths (nothing will solve me––if I do not solve me the world ceases), how everyone is too preoccupied with their own self, how any way that the act is taken thereafter no longer concerns me. People regularly light themselves on fire yet leave no legacies. The only point of resistance for me now is that the act of death is of more concern than the thought / moment before a death: everyone, incidentally or not, has some sort of message that want to attribute to their passing yet we’re too afraid to listen to these reasons, moreso when they’re spoken while alive. I want my passing to come with words from me. I want the grandest detail of it to be what I believed in.

  • The only movie series I legally own is an Amazon Prime Video collection of ‘The Twilight Saga: The Complete Movie Collection’.
  • Human grief, one of the few things that are our own, has every right to be commodified –– what is all my suffering but rooted from money? How else may I survive but through this?
    • We’re so selective about what voyeurism disgusts us and draw lines so arbitrarily. The voyeurism of fiction may be as disingenuous as an Alex Tizon piece if not more, for at least the latter understands and presents their very own role in the suffering firsthand. Dirtying it up for story and imagining alternate realities (which fiction writers so infrequently do anyway) is one solution, but so is the portrayal of the failed path. So often do we think that the context we’re hinted at suffices for us to draw ‘what-ifs’, but in defense of Tizon and so many like him, how much are we victims ourselves?
  • I make public what I find terrifying to share. I let as little as possible die with me. That’s the only goal. If I put my sins here, it’s a personal choice so that others may learn. This is a separate ideal from the above and has nothing to do with money: it’s why I publicize my live perishing for years without no expectation of return or response.
    • (And in this way I forgive and know Michelle Zauner, Phil Elverum, Will Toledo, because ‘relating to trauma’ be it in its most direct or abstract, especially in music, is also redemption, awareness, and discovery then on. It is then the duty of the consumer to know when the sadness starts and ends, and when our own journey towards renewal must come.)
  • All this sadness roots from the act of being – not looking to prove anything to anyone. Is this what the final stage is like?
  • I shed and regained and dropped cold turkey from an ED in the span of a week! I know, because I’ve been living a minor lifetime’s worth of knowing this all hinges on ‘willpower’; the fourteen-year-olds on edtwt literally don’t have jobs and are still callously calculating what makes a body a body. See, destruction is invalid but my dysmorphia/dysphoria is about correction. One is fixable, the other irreversible. I know that this part of my body is a meaningless shell that must be corrected + human perception is our greatest enemy.
  • When was I first afraid to not say ‘fuck’ on this blog
  • Is a simpler life always worse?
  • The shit part about writing to avoid forgetting is how everything you write is material to implicate you; if I have no other person to consume the things I believe in, then this is my only option. I’m tired of fragmenting myself for the few who then forget. Let all the atrocity of my being coagulate here, I confess, and I crucify myself.
  • Things I have never been described as before but I would like to be described as at least once: brilliant, fiery, beautiful, energetic, pretty, bold, trustworthy, likable
  • Everything I have in life, I have chosen. I am the winner of all circumstance. I make real what I believe. Every human conflict pressing onto me must be solvable then, no? What then about the issues of finance and cash? Where do I go?
  • When women write about their fantasies, it’s the lesser of all fictions.
  • Even the most irredeemable things are deserving of love, including me.

I need to just shut up and continue working!

Leave a Reply