Today I discovered I have a trigger.
VALIS by Philip K. Dick is the saddest story I’ve ever read.
I got it as a Christmas present two years ago and have never been able to finish it. I’m currently trying to read it for the third time, but I don’t think I can make it.
It’s a semi-autobiographical account of a drug addict’s search for God. (From what I’ve read, the circumstances behind the encounter with “God” have been changed, but the immediate result is still the same, and it’s impossible to know what else either really happened or is fictional. Regardless: Everything I’ve read so far has had me thinking “This could really happen to someone.”)
There’s just something about this story that makes me go “No. I can’t.” It might be that, reading VALIS, I am reminded of how I once thought about suicide.
It’s a good story. Just not one I feel I am able to handle yet.
I’ll keep reading and see what happens.
I understand why the concept of “triggers” is seen as a joke to many.
It wasn’t until an acquaintance shared her struggle with triggers that I started taking the concept seriously.
And I can say from my own experience:
Triggers are nothing to laugh about.
On a related note:
Are triggers a good thing or a bad thing?
I would say triggers are a good thing.
Because: Though triggers are, to put it lightly, unpleasant, I believe that triggers can remind us of how far we’ve come.
I feel that VALIS “triggers” me. And I’m glad it does. Not just because causing an emotional reaction in a reader is the mark of a good story, but because, thinking about my thoughts of suicide as a result of VALIS, I am reminded of how much I feel I’ve grown as a person since having those thoughts.
I’m ashamed of myself for ever thinking that suicide was a way out instead of an entrance into another kind of Hell.
But, at the same time, I’m glad I had such thoughts. Because such thoughts provided catharsis.
Catharsis: The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
After giving the darkest part of myself its time in the sun, I was able to think more clearly. I was able to realize “No! Suicide isn’t the answer!”
VALIS reminds me why suicide is never the answer.
VALIS is another reminder of why life is worth living.
Philip K. Dick,
From reading about you, you had a hard life.
I don’t know where you are now.
But I want you to know:
Whatever you went through, and wherever you are, the life you lived was not lived in vain. You are one of the reasons I am here today. And no matter what happens to me, I will always be thankful for that.
Thank you, Philip. K. Dick.
May you be with God.
–21st Century Catholic