“Judas n’a pas fait qu’une seule bise.”
-Charles de Leusse
Translation: Judas did not make only one kiss.
I am not a particularly religious individual.
I grew up in two households that differed vastly in their religious views and approaches to religion. On the maternal side, we were Episcopal Christians. We woke up early on Sunday mornings to fit into our Sunday best after nights spent having our hair done religiously. When I fell asleep during rambunctious church services, I could always count on some scolding elder to awaken me. We held debates on religion, but it was unilaterally agreed that God existed. The Christian one that is. With my father, I was Catholic. Rarely did we go to service; it was only when Easter rolled around and Grandmother made me participate in the Easter egg hunts or soup kitchens when I was older. We were not good Catholics; so much so that I did not realize I was Catholic until my later teen years. During my youth, I thought we were Christians who drank really weird grape juice and sang in a weird runic language that I was too unreligious to understand. Religion was not discussed in the household because there was nothing to discuss. We were unequivocally Catholic, whether we liked it or not.
But for both religions, I was an oddity. A girl who loved reading the journal entries of Plath too much, or fighting with boys and challenging the notion of the existence of a higher being. I was too inquisitive, too unruly and disobedient; my childhood in both households showed me that I was the equivalent of a Montague in an unforgiving Capulet household; this was something with which I could never repent enough for my parents. Which, ultimately has shaped me into who I am today; someone who, like the typical millennial, might describe themselves as vaguely “spiritual” but not “religious”. (Whatever that distinction means.)
But, despite my assertion that I am not religious, I always found myself drawn to one religious figure in particular; Judas Iscariot.
I have to admit…
There had always been striking similarities between both him and me. Judas, from what I learned, had a propensity for be a monumental screw up. He alienated the ones closest to him and let himself panic and fester. He let himself “be”. There was always a “too human” aspect of Judas that I seriously empathized with.
I have always been someone who did not feel like they belonged; whether in religious or peer groups, my lack of place has always felt uncomfortably tangible and palpable.
Growing up, I was always a jealous child. (And admittedly, I sometimes still am.)Even in my childhood I could recount earlier moments of feeling unjustly envious of others and wanting to one up them, to grab something solely for myself.
I found myself in this weird quandary; being both admired and despised by my peers.
I was often the kid parents remarked about wanting to have, but REGRETFULLY not having. I was clever, witty, occasionally pretty and likable; but ultimately, those traits weren’t enough. I was just as forgettable to people as I was entertaining. And naturally, I lashed out. When I didn’t get the attention I wanted, I suffered from withdrawals and grew resentful.
I lied compulsively growing up, stole things from friends and siblings, said hurtful things to feel more secure in myself. And yet somehow, I had cultivated an image of an angel. I knew when to act the part of an innocent angel, and knew when I could get away with not playing it.And because of this, I knew that I didn’t deserve that positive image and thus acted out even more; I abused the trust and emotions of the people around me; essentially, hurting others and betraying myself. And I have to admit, it was an easy thing to do. When you dislike yourself so intensely, it’s easy to take out your frustrations on yourself and others. It’s an unfortunate and unhealthy outlet. I had grown up being the prefect, the kid your parents wanted but didn’t have. And when people stopped idolizing me and celebrities growing up, I had a bit of a withdrawal. I grew resentful. I grew bitt34. I, in a way, became my own Judas.
I became this complicated caricature of myself despite how much I hated being unable to connect to people. It was this paradoxical position that I was digging myself into and refusing to stop doing; because I had only known this one unearthly way of interacting with the world.
And, in a way, I became my both my own Judas and my own Jesus; someone to idolize and adore, yet still betray.
I didn’t confront this about myself until I had went an ocean away from the Kafkaesque perception I had built for myself, and found out that I didn’t know who I was besides someone who felt perpetually empty. And I didn’t make many major personality changes until the end of my Freshman year of college and the subsequent Summer. I tried to be true to emotions and to who I was, and I tried to not compare myself all the same. I failed often, but picked myself up just as much. Whenever I felt jealousy rising over me, I tried to remove myself from the situation I reminded myself that while I might not be talented in one way, there was certainly another place where I excelled. But more importantly, I paid more attention to how I managed my relationships with others. If there was anything I wasn’t going to do, it was sabotage another potential friendship or acquaintanceship.
But in a way, creating a blog called Iscariotte was my way of embracing my flaws and insecurities and freeing myself from them. I will admit, I still often get jealous. It will be a character flaw of mine that I work on for years, but at least, now, I’m not ashamed to admit that anymore.
Because what I have learnt over the years is that there’s no one I need to be better than except for myself.
My point is that we are all a bit like Judas from time to time, some of us more than others. And being a bit “Judas-y” that is not the worst thing in the world. It a human trait to feel insecure, it is not one to hurt others and it is not one to not feel remorse for the hurt you’ve caused, no matter how unwell you were at the time.
I often like to think that my fascination with Judas Iscariot was my own subconscious way of warning myself of what potentially lay ahead. Judas was upset with everything around him that he let his insecurity get the best of him; he ended up hanging himself without having spent any of the thirty silver shillings he sold Jesus out for. And if I didn’t want to end up like Judas did, the first stop was that I needed to stop burning bridges, buckle down and confront my problems and stop betraying myself. And it’s something that I am glad that I have begun to do.
So I settled on the handle Iscariotte, figuring that adding the extra “te” onto the surname made it more feminine and more “me”. Every day that I log into an account with it, I give myself a gentle reminder that ultimately, it’s me who is in control of my own life. And that while it’s okay to not be your best every once and while it’s best not to wallow in it.
So in a way, the moniker “iscariotte” is one of the purest representations of me. If you don’t like it, okay. But I hope you’ll find along with all my misadventures and watch me grow along the way.