For all the schisms in my upbringing, the most savage scars didn't come from pain. Pain has belief in it. Pain is required, Patti likes to say; suffering is optional. What used to hurt was the vast and wondering doubt that could spread inside me like a desert, the niggling suspicion that none of the hard parts even happened. So the characters that so vividly inhabited me were phantasms, any residual hurt my own warped concoction.