I am doing a lot of things these days that parts of me—not dissociated parts, but just average bits of the self we all have—are watching and wondering, “What the hell?” And I am just going with it. I am conscious that for some of me, it is all very unfamiliar and not-me-feeling. For some of me, it is like finally wearing shoes that fit.
When you have been in parts, one thing doesn’t always win out of over the other. You look at one thing and you look at another thing and after a while a third thing starts to emerge that you never expected to be there. So I am not thinking much about how this is all going to play out in the future. I am just doing what I feel like doing, and I am aware of both the resonance and the disorientation occurring inside me. And I am letting that be.
So I pray now. I pray in Russian because I learned these prayers in Russian first, and a part of the point of it is to allow myself to remember the past better, so that it can be organized and made sense of and rearranged in a way that will allow me to live now.
It makes me happy to do this. I get just a little bubble of happiness, like eating a nice bit of chocolate. However, there is sometimes also an intense sense of collision inside. Some of that is just memory. It’s the flood of memories of other prayers washing over me in an indistinct and vague, but still powerful way. It’s probably also because the 2×2 remnant is not being dissociated from it, and it knows I am praying in a way that it has been taught to believe will send me directly to hell.
I’m starting to understand that Natalya raised me to be Orthodox, and my parents raised me to be a 2×2, and my dad raised me to be evil, and all these things need to meet each other in my head. The second two things I knew about. We’ve met. But the first one I haven’t. The first one is new to me, or it’s new to the rest of me.
I don’t actually have anything but the vaguest idea whether Natalya’s idea of what it meant to be Orthodox is what others of the same faith would say. I don’t know if her beliefs were typical or if they were sanctioned by her Church. I’ve looked at a few things, but I’m not going about this in that way. I am not, in other words, trying to assess what is “correct” or what I ought to believe. I am just remembering. I am doing things that let me live that memory so that it becomes richer and more real in my head, because what I need to do is see how those memories feel now. I need those memories to meet other memories that relate to faith so that I can see what comes out of them.
But I do know it is different. The faith I learned from Natalya is very, very different from what went on in the rest of my life. What emerges out of it most strikingly is that for Natalya—and for me being with her in her faith—her relationship with God is fundamentally one of love and of affection. She looks at God like a favourite relative. It is how I feel when I pray in the way I remember from her; I feel that affection again.
So there is that.