What Cassandra Knew

It is the beginning of week two of NaNoWriMo and I cannot think, I can only feel, and I feel horrible. Day eight technically, but it feels like Day one of being reborn in a Cowardly New World. Luckily for me, writing is not the sort of thing that requires clear thought because I don’t care very much about the clarity or the grammaticality or the accuracy of my words today. Today all I am capable of is expressing my feelings.

The past year or so I’ve been trying to re-learn to write; to write novels; to remember writing articles upon journalistic lines, to form perfectly intentioned sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books. I have been relentlessly restricting my practice of what I have, since my bright college days, lovingly referred to as “spewage.”

The words I spew directly from my heart and mind into a form someone could read, if they were brave enough, but it isn’t likely they will because the writing stinks to high hell and is as raw and unappetizing as sewage.

Now you know what you’re getting into if you keep reading. If you have your hip-boots on and a nose-plug, feel free to read as I will say what I have to say.

I have Cassandra Syndrome. I’ve had it since I was a very young child. It is defined by the Urban Dictionary as:

1) The condition of speaking the truth and having no one believe you.

2) The condition of being able to predict the future, be it the outcome of a particular event, or the reactions of others to the same event, and having no one believe your prophecy until it transpires.

3) Being able to see or understand things long before others, often resulting in them coming to the same conclusions long after your own initial analysis.

(All definitions come from Cassandra, the queen in Greek mythology who was appointed by Apollo with an inability to lie, yet cursed by having no one believe her prophecies.)

The trouble with having Cassandra syndrome since a very young age is that I am suffering from 40+ years of feeling hopelessly complicit in every horrible thing that happens because I am impotent, powerless to stop it. The list of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, predictions…all the things I have “seen” and then denied, or called attention to and been mocked about…the list is long, and it has turned my heart into a rough, solid fiber of scar tissue, inflexible and painful.

It is my fault. It is all my fault because I see it coming and like a rational person, I talk myself out of the doom-and-gloom attitude. I try to cheer myself up. I tell myself it isn’t that bad.

The reason this is a problem is because I do think it is a sickness, like any other of the lovely array of serious mental disorders that all have a physical, neurobiological component that won’t be covered when the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Anxiety, Narcissism, Alcoholism, Multiple Personality Disorder, Bi-Polar, Depression. Real diseases that affect real people in real ways. That make them suffer. That set them apart from their society and loved ones.

Because believing you see something coming isn’t so bad. You can tell people, and if you write it all down, perhaps you can validate “yes that happened” or “no that didn’t.” And then if you validate that you have an uncanny ability, perhaps one or maybe two people can stand beside you and trust you and support you and buffer you against the outcomes, good or bad.

What’s BAD is that we don’t teach this. We don’t instruct young people who feel this way to record their intuition and regard it with the eyes of scientific data gathering. Mostly because whether Cassandra Syndrome is real or not, it occurs in feeling people, sensitive people. People who may not instinctively take the time to “reality check” the data-driven scientific outcomes of their hints, visions, and inspiration.

A Cassandra Syndrome sufferer learns to deny foresight and entrench themselves in denial so that they can ward off self-loathing. The other option is too painful: See it. Call it. Be right too often, too late.

Because it’s all about counting the blue cars. Predictions that don’t come true, well, those just fade away. The ones that do come true are an emotional, physical, mental weight like being crushed by the I80 overpass in the Loma Prieta, or maybe trapped in a collapsed coal mine…except you don’t get to die.

So today, emotionally, I wish I hadn’t lived this long. It isn’t rational. It isn’t logical. When I write the word logical I can’t help but see a green-skinned, pointy-eared Spock in my imagination and I think, “If I could die right now to save the world, I would. I, the few, would sacrifice myself for the good of the many.”

Which brings me back to “the problem” with Cassandra Syndrome and my ropey, blackened heart filled with hatred of those who are fueled by hatred; a catch 22 if ever there was one: I also know that no sacrifice would ever be enough, have meaning enough, or solve anything. Because it never has before. My job is to see, not to effect. I say what is coming and no one listens. I have in only a few very rare instances, taken action to create good side effects that nevertheless could not prevent the eventual outcome.

So this very special, pretty pretty princess, ancient greek queen of mythology reborn, cursed, hated…is writing because I said I would write words this month, but this is all I can think of: The election of our president hurts so much that I really wish I was dead. I am not planning on self-harm, and I know the wish is irrational, hormonal, over-reactionary, dramatic…but not any the less emotionally real.

And yes, I have help, and yes, I have support, and yes, yes, thank you for your concern, I’ll be fine.

But just between us, internets…just between you and me…it isn’t going to be “fine” ever again. Nope. I’ll go back to pretending tomorrow. Be cheerful and deny the lump of scabrous gristle that pumps blood through my body.

But you’ve been warned.


What do you think?