For as long as she could remember, Deidre had longed for self-annhilation.
She wasn’t suicidal or depressed. She wasn’t lonely. She didn’t have a bad life. She couldn’t trace her wish to an abusive childhood or even a particular moment in her life. She had just always known, deep down, that she needed to be subsumed. Overwhelmed. Unmade. The urge was both sacred and profane- spiritual and deeply sexual. She both feared and desired this need.
She had first become conscious of it when she was younger. Deidre had loved church. She would sit in church on Sundays and fervently pray for God to work his will through her. During the week, she would commit herself to being a vessel for God’s will through evangelism. She dreamed that she would empty herself enough for Him that He could speak directly through her and use her body and voice to share His word. She wanted to be used, humbled and given over to His divine purposes.
As she grew older, Deidre began to grow more skeptical. She noticed that other church members didn’t share her fervency- they might espouse similar ideas on Sunday but acted of the world during the rest of the week. Her family and church friends would seem ashamed when Deidre would evangelize to others on the streets and in stores. Even when Deidre confided in her pastor about her faith, he reacted with fear. He said that her hopes sounded closer to demonic possession than a healthy Christian stewardship. Deidre began to read religious texts and writings. When she realized that there were contradictions within her fundamentalist worldview, her confidence began to decline.
By the time Diedre was in college, she had completely lost her Christian faith. What she still carried, though, was the need within her to be whittled down and lessened and subsumed. When Googling “no self” one day she had discovered Buddhism and meditation. She found and began to attend the local Dharma center on campus. The way they talked about the self resonated with her- she learned about non-attachment and no-self doctrines. Deidre began meditating daily, willing herself towards enlightenment. She imagined a great sense of one-ness where she could lose her individuation and just….be.
It wasn’t working though. Even in meditation, she still had thoughts. She still had a self. During a meditation lectures, she became even more disillusioned. The teacher was a monk who had spent years in silent meditation. He talked about how he would still have thoughts running through their heads during the deep of meditations. He equated it to having a radio playing in the background of a room- something he could hear but wasn’t necessarily paying attention to. He said that meditators shouldn’t expect to completely silence their inner voices- that this was nearly impossible for humans to do.
That was no good. Diedre didn’t want a radio running in the back of her head. She wanted there to be only silence. Surely there must be a way.
When searching for meditations online, Deidre eventually came across information on hypnosis. Looking at hypnosis led to the discovery of erotic hypnosis. Hypnosis by itself was not what she was looking for- it was very close to meditation- but recordings under the label of “erotic hypnosis” or “hypnokink” were…revealing. The wordings used were erotic to her- talk of mindlessness and emptiness and being entirely unable to think. She had always found those concepts arousing but this was the first time she felt like it was OK to explore their inherent sexiness. She eventually found an online hypnotist named Brad who seemed to get off on the idea of destroying her as much as she got off on the idea of being destroyed. At nights, she would touch herself repeating mantras about how blank and empty she was. Brad had promised that the pleasure would erasing her, bit by bit. It was almost enough.
Almost, but not quite. She loved the overwhelmed feeling of being hypnotized. She loved being dirty talked about how impossible it was for her to think. There were even moments where she felt like it was all true. But, in the end, even those were fleeting. She would be in trance, repeating, when a thought about her laundry would come up. Or she would be given a command and find herself resistant or unwilling or unable to obey it. It all felt like a simulacrum of what she really wanted.
Until Brad came back from his business trip. While in China, Brad had begun to hear rumors about factories using a new kind of technology to control workers. There was a helmet called the Unity Helmet that they would require the workers to wear in the factory. It acted as a neural dampener. Once worn, it would dissociate the wearer from any sense of self or identity. People with the helmet on would obey commands perfectly- without thought or hesitation. They could perform feats of speed or cognition impossible in their normal states. Wearers would also lose their memories. Research indicated even implicit memory was affected.
Brad had seen the helmet demonstrated. His colleague had been made to bark like a dog, to recite times tables, to remember long lines of numbers. Brad had decided to sneak a helmet out. He wanted to use it on Deidre.
It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her.
They negotiated. On the testing day, Deidre nervously sat on Brad’s couch. They had agreed on a 3 hour initial test. Deidre had advocated for longer but Brad was insistent. If they wanted to eventually have Deidre wear the helment full time like they had fantasized about, they would need to make sure it was safe.
Deidre felt the helmet being slowly lowered over her head. She kicked her foot with excitement. She blinked once, wondering when it was going to…
And then there was silence.
And then she was nothing.
And then she was gone.
And if she had still possessed a self, Diedre would have known that she had found perfection.