is my anima.
She lives inside of me.
People meet the outside me, and yes, that is a sincere, genuine me.
But even the most intimate of encounters … take for example, close lovers whose lasting imprints I could blindly trace with my fingertips, or formative friends who watched me grow up alongside them from inside living rooms and playgrounds and dorm rooms, or the teachers and role models who gifted my personality permanent diction, or basically anyone who bore witness to any one of my unseemly vulnerabilities from childhood to adulthood…
…even most of those people don’t know about Alitan.
Alitan is an enigma. The divine feminine. No one has even seen her. (This is out of the question, given she exists only as an aura.)
To most of the world, Alitan is off-limits.
And yet somehow, throughout the course of my entire lifetime, a rag-tag group of unique people, each one seemingly divined at random, have found her.
These people control me.
Alitan, she is a sweet soul — the sweetest. She is soft, tender, and always demurring. She knows only to be earnest, nothing else.
Me, I am kind, but cynical, I am reserved, but biting. I have defense mechanisms on automatic; dry humor, coy misdirection, and a pronounced deficit of attention are what people near me have to deal with.
On one hand, Alitan is a version of me untouched by the sandpapers of life. On the other hand, I am a version of her made mature, rugged, and more durable.
If you average us out, you don’t get me, because our extremes throw off the average. Our median is when I am quiet and look away.
As a child, I was reinforced to observe gender as binary. As a teenager, I was taught that, believe it or not, an opposite-gendered spirit, different from the one I identify with, lay blissfully unconscious somewhere deep inside of me. I received a higher education which reinforced that this energy had a name, “anima”, and that it was both very elusive and the true source of all my creativity. To meet it would rocket me on a path towards my “true self”… provided the proper amount of maturity, self reflection, and a light touch.
Weirdly, none of those lessons proved to be true, because my anima was never in hiding, nor was I ever unaware of it! I instinctively knew of her from the moment I was born. She exists behind my eyes, and her name is Alitan.
Strange is our lifelong legacy of coexistence, stranger is that despite cohabitating the same mind and body, I cannot access her, nor can I tell you when she is nearby. I can’t even speak to her in any discernible way... yet somehow, some way, it is only other people who can accomplish all three.
It is a rare act, but when spoken to, she bursts right out of me and all of my senses. My anima is a spiritual sleeper cell.
Technically, this fact, that a hidden aura can be summoned from deep within my soul, gives those around me a colossus power, albeit a novelty one, and one almost never utilized. Imagine a cartoon-sized mallet in a gun store. Few looking to do real damage would pay it much mind, let alone seek it, let alone walk up to it, pick it up and swing it. But,
and I am peeled open like a banana, naked, blanched, waiting to be swallowed whole.
and my walls crumble and my mouth purses and I’m yours because when I am not stuck outside of myself, I am her, wide open and defenseless. Saying her name out loud will make an effortless hypnotist or siren out of you.
“Te quiero, mi Alitan.”
It is in essence the Spanish diminutive of my real name. But it’s more like slang, given no true diminutive of my name technically exists. It’s a word that has no real-world meaning whatsoever, except: (definition 1) the collective augured hope of my tribal ancestors, my birth mother, and several Catholic deities, each awaiting the fulfillment of the dizzying potential they all claim I have, and (definition 2) a shy, cute me.
Wanna try it out?
Nothing to you, but
over here, the word pelts me the same as if you overturned a bag of dusty dynamite. All three of its syllables clinker with the similar, hollow echo of tightly-knit power. Call her by her name and the emotions pile up at my feet, all of them practically begging to blow.
Here are the people who have spoken to my anima:
You, just now.
My mother, who felt her deep, deep within my soul during the time in which I was still inside her soul. She could not see Alitan with her own eyes of course, but with only my heartbeat to go by, she correctly identified Alitan and her cosmogonic origins. She named her.
Uncles and aunts were given the key to my anima early on. They still occasionally invoke it when they feel nostalgic for my child form, as saying it renders me child-like.
A few passing love interests uncovered its existence, but never really knew its true power. They would let the word fall from their mouths with a giggle, then from their minds without a second thought.
My high school Spanish teacher, for whom during our one year together I became weirdly emotionally subservient.
My life partner knows of her too, of course. She was unprecedentedly betrothed both the knowledge of the word and how to wield it by my mother, but only after she had earned my mother’s deepest respect.
And finally, my animus.
Who is my animus? My animus is the male me. He is my spirit, and my savvy. He is the utter embodiment of what it means to be me.
My animus is the joke on the tip of my tongue, the tapping of my foot at 120 BPM, it is me when I go hard in the paint. He is quick-witted and weird and fun. He is the one people remember at parties, and the one who makes people uncomfortable in small groups.
He is everything I identify with; I feel him in my breathing, I am sure with a microscope you would see him in my blood. My animus is so intimate I safely assumed it resided inside of me, until the day I met him in somebody else’s body.
She saw him too. My animus circumvented me and called directly to my anima by name.
Unlike the random “anima people” from before, she somehow already knew this person, who was also him, who was also me.
How strange and unruly, if not unholy, for one to self-actualize in reverse, my anima and animus unhinged and face to face. The union occurred neither internally, nor with hard work, but externally and by dumb luck.
I am male with male genitalia.
Never a day have I felt otherwise. But Alitan, she is also me, and she has no genitalia or sex organs but her energy is not the energy of my genitalia or my sex. And yet we are an identical energy.
Similarly, my animus did not appear in a male form. Nevertheless, when he saw her and she saw him, we saw us.
If never the twain shall meet, then logically, always the same mustn’t separate.
As an adult, I rewired my crystallized knowledge of the self to understand gender as a spectrum. I underwent this not inherently, but through brute force and by trial and error. Whether in solitude or in mixed company, I slowly discovered how to better express one’s self through a wider spectrum.
So here’s an unspooled thread: if gender is not a fixed concept, then there cannot be an “opposite” gender hidden inside of me. There is no balance to a circular object.
Remember, I am a version of Alitan more mature, rugged and durable, she is the “naive and untouched by life” version of me.
Until dominant forces pulled me apart, and mixed us together, like dough.
Being consistently spoken to and utterly understood by another being for the first time in my adult life, the distinction between “untouched” and “callous” began to fade.
And so it was, one day, many years after my birth, my anima finally spoke without being spoken to. I still can hardly believe it.
I could not understand how she could now escape without someone calling. And when she did, she burst right out through all of my senses. She cried out the name of my animus over and over. Each and every time she said it, my walls crumbled and my mouth pursed and I was not me, because I was theirs.
almost as quickly as it arrived
the body where my animus lived left us.
And yet, my anima continued to burst from my senses, calling out for him day and night, over and over, howling to herself, leaving me wide open and defenseless with every wail.
She called and called. She whimpered and sobbed. She curled up, broken and alone. She stopped talking. She stopped answering.
Pure existential pain is to be self-realized in reverse and then lose it. This way, you are not seeking some other half, but accidentally and shockingly stumble upon it, and then what you never had to begin with slips right through your fingers. You discover and then completely lose how it feels to be yourself.
“Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part that isn’t thinking isn’t thinking of.”
Alitan is a sweet soul — the sweetest. She is soft, tender, and always demurring. She now knows only two things: to be earnest, and him.
If gender is non-binary, that means gender is an expression. Gender can be expressed in virtually limitless ways, but what most don’t realize is it can also sit unexpressed deep within you.
The design philosophy determines the whole.
So it came to be after a series of firsts, one day, many years after my birth, I finally spoke to my anima. I still can hardly believe it.
I don’t know how, but after she broke, I finally sensed her presence without the help of anybody else. I felt her welled up inside of me, unmoving, sick. When I found her, I got down and laid beside her, and I held her, and we cried and cried and cried. Then I told her what I knew:
“If never the twain shall meet, then logically, always the same mustn’t separate.”
I am a circle, not two pieces. Deep, deep inside not just me, but inside my anima, there lay dormant something unexpressed.
Maybe I did not lose my other half, maybe I merely saw the full me reflected back at me. That is what I told her.
She, in her soft, demurring way, kindly listened. And despite the pain from seemingly unending loneliness, she accepted that explanation. And she left.
That was it. She is gone, for now.
I have not spoken to Alitan since. I have felt her only vicariously through the conversations others have with Alitan. But for the first time, I know I could sense her if she were here. I will know when she is nearby when she arrives again. I think I finally understand how to speak to her.
For now, she will not answer to calls, and I will not reach out to her.
My anima is still me, now even deeper inside of me, touched by the sandpaper of life, mature, rugged, and more durable.