“The Hole” or “I Hate Liver”
© Victor Martins Sant’Anna 2002
Traduzido para o inglês por email@example.com
The character begins the scene seated at an enormous hole in the middle of the stage, and will act opposite to it the entire time: the absence of ground. On the edge of the hole are some familiar possibilities such as a rope to climb, to escape or to hang perilously over the abyss, or a chair, to remain there, relax, looking at the hole, or even a shovel which would allow him to try and fill the hole. The entire time the character will play with these options, talk about the past when he was there, in that spot, when he had the best of life until one day, upon waking up, he met “the one” in the middle of his life: the person he loved, Jan, who had left after ten years together, leaving only this enormous void.
“The Hole” or “I Hate Liver”
And why doesn’t this guy leave anything without comment? Without brands or remarks? He would have been much happier without needing to comment on the hole which appeared here. One day I woke up and my life had changed: the ground was not the same. Why didn’t I leave intact the landscape where I had passed, not cleaned whatever trace of my passage through the “oh-so-beautiful-paths-that-ask-that-we-leave-them-untouched”? If I had not mentioned this hole, no one would have known that it even existed; some lost friend, one day, without knowing, might ask:
– How’s Jan?
And I would reply:
She left, taking everything I had, everything I wanted, everything I thought was my life, my life, my home, my family, everything.
But she left something that is now the biggest toy that I have to distract myself with: an enormous abyss, a huge hole in my life, from which I can’t get away from.
Why don’t I cross the abyss like I cross a road? Why be distracted by its size, its depth? Why look both ways past the old rope bridge, going back and forth over everything yet again, leaving footprint layers of fine dust covering the bridge? Why do I look, look again and eat, vomit, fix and ruin everything?
Why don’t we leave the abyss as we found it, the destruction as it is and the depth without light?
Why do I sweep around in the dirt in search of small discoveries on the edge of existence? Why do I interact with its precipice? Why is an abyss like an annoying itch that we can’t stop scratching?
Yeah, I lost… Now almost all of us are old. We’ve aged. A lot. As if I were already in old age a long time ago – from December of any year – I can guarantee that everything will worsen now. The day after my abyss, when Jan went away and left behind this gigantic void, the legion of women who used to join me in orgies, in my thoughts, abandoned my imagination without apology; my hair fell out by the hundreds; a filling fell out, and then other worse things happened to my mouth. Since I was already at the wrong age, my dentist said it wasn’t worth the trouble to treat it. Holes… life is made of holes, little ones, big ones… In other ways the devastation continued and the doctor prescribed remedies that cost more, yet cure less. The aches are worse, while friends are more distant.
Ah, but it has its positive side, to be sure. Well, memory fails me now, but I am almost certain that I had something well kept for this moment.
Live begins in a hole. There is nothing that one sex offers to the other that isn’t a variation of tasty holes, warm, crazy, moist, delicious, some in distant places, out of reach, others there, at the fingertips, at the end of the hand, the tip of the tongue, the nose, the chin, the navel, at one’s feet, the elbow, I don’t know… I don’t even know what I’m talking about.
For me to talk about myself is like undressing, it’s something that is nearly violent… It’s difficult to undress in front of a friend, a new love or a doctor; it always takes time, maturity, determination, necessity.
When we use metaphors, text, poetry, to communicate with each other, we are taking a “detour” around the problem: we are exposing ourselves without (completely) disrobing, we are stripping while keeping on semi-transparent garments, that expose without seeing; a weak light, a semi-shadow helps even more in this self-protection.
It isn’t easy to climb on a table and do a striptease, even for a mad passion; maybe it isn’t necessary; only time and intimacy permit this.
Although nudity in front of a friend takes the same character as nudity in front of a doctor, this does not diminish the transgression of this fact, nor would I want either of these; I want to love a friend more than this and don’t ever need this to happen. However, if it does happen, it needn’t be embarrassing.
Metaphors… I hate liver… I really hate liver. I think life is like liver… Some people love it, others detest it… Some people are born hating or loving liver… It’s a question of luck… or bad luck.
Jan also hated liver… but one day, ashamed to refuse a plate, I had liver for lunch at the home of an acquaintance. How disgusting!
Monteiro Lobato has a tale in which a character hates liver. I love Monteiro Lobato for this.
The character that he created has to attend a banquet in which liver is the main course… He has to gulp it down, as customs in small towns demand, but he didn’t have the courage to say “no”… He divides the meat into two pieces and swallows them quickly, in order to avoid tasting it… The hostess, thinking that he must have really liked it, serves him a second helping. Unable to repeat the act, he hides the liver in his pocket. Everything is fine, up until then, except that he forgets the piece of meat in his pocket until the time when, reciting some verses, his brow sweats and he pulls his handkerchief from his bag and the meat flies from its hiding place. The character flees the city, full of shame, with the reputation of loving liver so much that he was unable eat it without hiding some choice slices in his pockets.
Life is like that, some people prefer to gulp down the liver offered to them by others. Others hide it in their pocket. Some do both.
Life is a piece of liver. Or is it a hole? Well, in my life there is a huge hole. A pocket is a hole, is it not?
A mouth is a hole. It all begins with a kiss, doesn’t it?
Then we’re all born nine months later exiting a hole. A big hole!
I don’t know if what I am doing here is art or science. Neither am I studying holes. I am refining the art of living with one.
Oh, I touched on an interesting point, talking about art and science, I forgot to mention that we live in a “cult of hole” culture. “History” is important in relation to all our cultural and artistic tendencies, which also has a relationship with science. Everything is related to everything else. I am here, nearby, looking, seeing what I can do. Who knows if I’ll turn out to be a great hero? The most important person in history: he who discovered how to live peacefully with holes.
I am sensitive enough to what happens, however I love to watch American football on TV and cheer for every point scored. I am sensitive enough to certain things, have a “different” perspective than most people, a different perception. Yet this is not good, people’s tendency to, nearly always, complain about human insensitivity, is to perceive such sensitivity as weakness, not as a quality. At the last second it looks like what counts is being an idiot. What counts is to behave like those from whom I keep my distance.
At first, Jan would admire herself for these qualities; but at the moment of separation, at the end of ten years of marriage, this was, in Jan’s eyes, a burden: “a weakness”, something that I should not have; at least that was what Jan pictured.
Around here, being separated or not was never important from an institutional point of view: I stayed married ten years, but never “legally” married, we were always different in that regard. We didn’t concern ourselves with “other people’s rules. But it is precisely due to our affinity that the separation is a burden, it is difficult to understand how two people who get along so well need to be separated in order to be happy. I think Jan’s choice was right. It is sad, but marriages, however well that people may have been matched, don’t last forever.
Yet this is it, to start all over, to have things to do, things to care for, it seems that it’s been good for me. If I knew it would be like this, I would have come to live alone earlier, I lost a lot of “unwilling” time to confront this, I preferred to stay a year tossed around the world. I left to stay some weeks away and remained a year without being anywhere. After coming here, even with the available abyss from my separation, another year wasted!
I believe that everybody finds solutions in their own way, these traumatic things do not have formulas, and are difficult to get through.
I remembered another liver story: Prometheus chained, who stole the god’s fire in order to give it to humans. In mythology, Prometheus was punished by being chained and had his liver eaten daily by a bird, an eternal punishment. The eaten liver continuously regenerated itself. In my view of the tale, it wasn’t Prometheus who received great punishment. The worst punishment of the story was to the bird who, having nothing to do with the crime, received the penalty of having to eat liver for eternity.
Are there worse things than liver?
There are worse things than solitude: separation!
To like someone and be dumped, when the relationship between the two is still strong, or, at least is for the one being is dumped, as in my case, is very heavy, difficult to bear. I think work is a burden, to not feel support when returning home and meeting, waiting for someone, yet, on the other hand, it helps to distract the feelings, the sensation of something missing.
Memories: I also have kept everything I could of Jan’s, being ten perfect years, impossible to accept that one day it would have to end. I think that this is one thing that I will never understand, like someone who you know can have a different perspective of the same facts. But okay, I think that was part of it, but a love so special, so full of happiness, makes me feel that I will never encounter anyone else like Jan, even if I am happy again. I think that I could never meet anyone who completes me like Jan did.
Sometimes I think of studying other holes, I have many obstacles to speaking and writing about them, however I see holes as an expert, without the least problem and am able to understand them reasonably well. Yet, I don’t know, it seems that I am stuck somewhere. I study for a semester, stop, return and do the same level in another hole and so it goes… not having the will to stay in other holes, to do the same things… Now, with all this sadness I really don’t want to study yet another hole, although, perhaps, it may be a good thing to do.
Well, that’s it.
It is hard to understand life.
I have friends, dates, I get out to meet people in the same situation. It’s already been months. This week, one of these people began to want some type of involvement, or, maybe, considered the possibility. Very carefully, I tried to explain that I did not feel attracted, which had nothing to do with her… but she wasn’t very happy, she wound up being irritated and fought with me. It’s with these people that I stopped having frequent contact, people who I called “friends.” It is they, at the same time who insisted that I must forget, that I need to move on, that being idle is worse. For this I ceased courting by correspondence, participating in blind dates with friends of friends… As some people I know are not on my path, this makes it hard for possible dates, outings, getting to “really know.” In reality, it is not working out… I still prefer studying the holes and exchanging information about this with other people than to go out with them. I am divided, something propels me to seek company, but another force makes me find excuses to stay here, to not get involved, to avoid “real” encounters. I don’t know if I’ll cross this barrier, cross this abyss, but I think that having contact with people has made think about it. If, one day, one of these forces inside me will be victorious, it is still hard to know.
I think the road next to the abyss is long and thorny, full of twists and turns, so I insist in carrying my things: but this is only in case of emergency… a lantern, rope, shoes with spikes… I hope this therapy works some day.
Although I’ve been separated for over a year and have had much difficulty in forgetting the trauma, it’s been difficult to return to “normal.” No one wants to be alone, but some (as in my case), when already in this state, find everything to be doom and gloom, and do not want to get involved again… Look, I’ve already tried filling the hole. Then I threw some more dirt on it, and more, and more, to no avail. This hole is bottomless. Never, never will this hole be filled.
I am not mixing this at will, this feeling of knowing that it is impossible to get rid of this abyss, with the consciousness of not staying like this forever. That is why I attempt to know other people, although with no intentions of a relationship deeper than discussing holes, at first. To be happy is not a clear objective, sometimes it seems that whatever happens, happens… Later, as in this instant, things change and I think I should take a stand, and so it goes, oscillating between one state and another. Sometimes I cross the abyss… but I look back and the abyss is still there, and I’m still on its precipice, needing to cross over to the other side. The act of crossing over it doesn’t mean a thing.
Picking up the shovel reminds me of when I end up involved with work during the research period. Sometimes, because I need to, and without noticing, I have the tendency to stay immersed in the hole and will always be searching for related topics.
I start to see advantages to being alone, little things that I had stopped doing by choice: now I can go back to being my own self. Yesterday, for example, I went out to watch a game on TV… it is an improvement!
I have my highs and lows during this “recovery phase”; sometimes I am happy to be alone, sometimes I feel empty, not wanting to do anything, very sad. Then I recover and so I go on: it is part of filling the holes, I suppose.
We are all after passion, we are, even when we are not, are we not? The problem is when the passion ends… or when we no longer feel comfortable looking for one.
I oscillate between changing my life and going back to the old one. It is always a big problem, all these decisions, not knowing what is best for me… Anyway, while I am here is when I am the happiest; yet when I am here is also when I think about doing something else besides being here.
I feel like I should decide on something, but at the same time, I am afraid of taking the initiative which will put me on a definitive path. Silly, isn’t it? It is fear, which I know I can dominate if I want to. Fear which, even small, is always there. I am afraid of being far from my things, but also of being alone, even realizing they are imaginary fears, that such fears are not incompatible, I am not sure what happens…I can’t make up my mind.
Maybe being separated is not compatible with being happy, but what to do? It doesn’t seem right, but at the same time, it would be an explanation for what happens inside me. Indecision.
There are so many things that could be simpler if I did not need to weigh in, think, reflect, measure, I can’t escape this. Oh, I don’t know.
I have already had other holes in my life… The last time was about twelve years ago, when I had serious problems and crises which made me think that self-destruction was the only way out. In some way, having dug my own hole at that time guaranteed my survival soon after my separation. The separation was the deepest hole I had ever seen, and even then, no “bad” thought crossed my mind. I never tried jumping in there. Oh, I thought about jumping in, ending it all, yes, but not in a serious manner. Otherwise if I wanted to, I would have done it. Those were bad days. I move on, slowly, but “onward.”
Yesterday I was writing about holes, when an interesting observation crossed my mind: giving others the impression that I love what I do. True, sometimes I don’t even notice it, but the task of researching depths is lots of fun, even in the terribly hot caves I have been working in. I hate the heat. I take huge pleasure in arriving at new precipices where I find new discoveries: I think I am a bit silly, I love researching that! Of course the ideal is to be able to live, too, but in a relationship between explorer and abyss, instead of “finding” life outside, it is very common to rediscover something to do in there.
I think I’ll take a shower, seeing that I need one. I worked a lot today!
When I was with Jan, I wanted us to do everything together, but Jan did not want to, said it was not necessary, that I was the one looking for things to do, that I needed to look for… Boring, isn’t it? After the separation, she ended up doing whatever she wanted, without my presence.
Yes, I think I need a shower, today it was 41 degrees on the thermometer I placed downstairs, though I can’t see it from here. I had to work in a sauna again, but it is great being down there, even if I get dehydrated.
The sensation of talking to the walls…sometime I talk to them. Well, some walls are warm and it is worth leaning on them, I think I like it, even thought it looked like it should. This must be really complicated, a lot of things that happened in the last few days upset me, regardless of how much I can deal with problems, I can’t say that it all ended up well enough for me to make a calm decision about my future. I opted for hiding in front of the challenge.
Why the walls? The feeling of distance is real, this really happened, but it was like scary games that can always be interpreted as an escape. And because of our little fears we act a certain way. This happened, even more like a test: I had several expectations that were not met in my research and this created a certain insecurity… Don’t think the decision to stay here was easy, for fear hit me all the time: “it is only temporary, all will be well”, I repeated many times, without stopping to hide the panic that, maybe, I might never come back. What goes on inside that we cannot face is: am I going to get out? Will I see the light? This could be growing and getting bigger than we can imagine.
My way: to remain neutral. I am rational and seem cold these hours: a mistake, the vision we have of the wall does not come close to reality, but only the tactile sense, the proximity that can really mean true knowledge. Some walls are warm, even if they seem somber and cold… being neutral has to do with consciousness, not coolness. I know people have a hard time perceiving me as a common person.
No one knows the value of little things more than I… Some things I even carry with me… One of these days I will show you.
About my marriage, I can only say that I tried everything, being rebellious, being patient, being myself, being someone else – the other person’s vision of the ideal partner is not always your natural self – so, what I know is: if someone does not love you anymore, it doesn’t matter what you do, there is nothing else to be done. I don’t believe that it was something I had done or not done that made Jan stop loving me. People can stop loving someone independent of what they do or don’t do, because it is also true that people can love you for what you do or not. As she was leaving my life and after the dust settled, and she stopped blaming me for not feeling passionate about her any longer, Jan told me:
– “I know that I will never find someone like you. You were perfect, but I can’t live without passion, and there is no more passion in my body right now… I will regret being away from you, there is nothing like it, but it is better to live without a perfect person than to live with him without passion that justifies the arrangement.
According to Jan, this explains the end of a marriage, but not the end of a friendship, for to keep us apart from each other, Jan had other reasons: she told me she does not want me around because she is afraid of my kindness. Jan doesn’t want me around knowing that I still have all these feelings. Jan still wishes me well and doesn’t want me suffering, but she can’t do anything about it. So, the abyss separated us, we can’t even be friends, because I’ll probably never stop loving Jan.
I can’t complain, for when I see marriages in which each partner complains about the other, I think that, all things being considered, mine is not one of the worst: what I always sought was being recognized for doing what I could… Jan already recognized this, so… this is it.
Oh, I really don’t know anything.
Oh, it is like this: everyone knows that Socrates, the Greek philosopher, did not leave anything in writing, but there is a phrase of his that someone remembered to leave for history that goes, “I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.”
If you prefer, in my current version these days, since I can’t copy anything without changing it a bit, “All I know is that I know less than Socrates.”
They left his phrase untouched for 2,500 years and I come here and change it… The world must really be getting weird!
But all this was to say that I don’t know anything, I can’t affirm anything, I won’t place my hand in the fire for anything, and whomever wants to believe it, does so at their own risk.
The fact that we like someone does not mean that we can analyze, break down, study, dissect, detach… Well, I do this with films and poetry, so I think I can do this with what I like and don’t like…
I think we will never close any abyss… Whenever we remember something, we go back to them!
I did that, at times: I would dive into films, for some years it was my main diversion! However, time goes by, and the impossibility of reading, seeing, eating everything… This is very complicated!
Now I see few things, not having someone to count on is really bad… a hole.
When we are like this, alone, we get the feeling of emptiness…
Yesterday I was not feeling well… Not for any reason, but I was not well, I was sad. But no one understands, they think that I am playing the victim, digging my own hole.
I even tried getting out. I was feeling worse, only wanted a “hello,” some hope, but… Here I am, I didn’t eat right all day, I didn’t sleep during the night, I slept in the shower another time… I am tired.
I remember an argument… I needed love, maybe it was the wrong time, I don’t know.
But that is okay, I listen to music here, and I feel better, I am well, I want everyone to be well, too, even if they don’t understand me. I wish everyone well, and always will.
I miss being hooked on somebody… even without talking to people, knowing that someone is well is good. I don’t know.
Distance does that, some come close, stay close to me, hold me… I need it. I am begging, you don’t need to pardon me, you don’t need to forgive me, I am only feeling lonely.
Every time I start to talk about this I start to cry. Why do you think? I am tired of crying, I wish this feeling had passed: I wish I could fight with somebody and get furious, not sad! Do I get sad because I can’t fight with anyone, or do I not fight because I am sad?
Sometimes I see some people who are not well, and I kick them. It’s no wonder they think ill of me. At the time I can’t think straight, I see that hole and I get mad, I think it is an effrontery that people get mad about puddles. Why do I feel this enormous emptiness and other people only have a slight depression in their lives? So, I can’t take it serious at the time… This isn’t good, is it?
Sometimes I need help and they prefer not to take my cry for help seriously, they prefer to think it is something else. But that is okay, I am not that bad. I was worse some time ago when a girl came by and released me from darkness. So I don’t care when, at times, they don’t want to help me. I think I am exploring the caves to get well, it is not anyone’s duty to be available, as if they were a guardian angel working full-time.
It is bad being unstable. When I was married, I liked myself more. What to do, eh?
Well, I think I don’t feel safe, there are certain things that I say that touch inside, and leave me confused.
When I saw Jan for this first time, I felt strength, felt something. I could not stop looking. I met other people like this. It’s funny, I feel something like that for other people sometimes. I won’t lie and say I never felt this before, but it was seldom. I wanted to find someone and feel the same feeling. I don’t know. This is very painful. I am afraid of not having this again. Hey! I can’t cry, I have a lot to do today.
After six months of knowing Jan, we were already married. I always think that it was the best thing I did in my life, but I often hear people’s voices saying how silly it was to do that, that doing it so quickly would not work. I didn’t want to have this doubt, it made me feel guilty. Damn, I’ll have to talk about something else, I can’t cry.
I think I’ll change the music that is playing for something different, so I won’t want to cry so much… Hold on… I can’t even remember why I was saying all this.
I wanted to meet someone to be able to say:
– “I miss you. Will you stay with me? I love you so much….”
All is good and bad at the same time. I am meeting people, then we split up as it always happens, bigger forces interfere… But I will still have a long journey with somebody, it’s fun!
One of these days I will meet a special person: friendship will still save my life…
I know everything ends one day, so if we do not know each other, we skip this trauma; but a solitary journey is boring, or at least, less fun than being accompanied by someone who has something to say. Even if the person gets off the bus in the next stop, it is better to travel with company.
There are some things that, wow, are kind of weird to say to others if we don’t know them well enough to say them.
Once a friend asked me whether I had several affairs at the same time… The answer was:
– “Yes, I’ve had several love affairs at the same time, during a certain period, and one of them was Jan.” It just so happened that I was with two people in the same house, but not in the same bedroom, I mean, I wasn’t doing anything obscene, a delicate way of saying I was not screwing two people at the same time.
At that time, all the people I was with knew each other, and were warned that I did not intend on “freeing” myself from those in the past. But Jan kicked them all out, one by one, not directly, but she was keeping me busy until I said, “enough”… I had to choose between Jan and the other people. I’ve always had the sensation of having made the best deal of my life, but now, given the separation, I am not very sure of what is right, better, good, or anything like that… I am trying to keep an open mind, not being moralistic, but it is clear (it became clear at that time) that having many relationships at the same time was a signal that I did not like any of them as much as I thought I did.
Nowadays I go out with a stranger every two weeks, searching for something even I don’t know what is, almost like a magical quest, thinking that when I find it, I will know it. However, I don’t date a person more than once.
How long can the storm last? A storm can last…. I don’t know…up to forty days and forty nights? What is a crisis? Do we get stronger after the storm?
That which survives a storm is not necessarily stronger: it can be an illusion caused by the good weather. During the storm, the feeling that all could end badly can result in our expectations for survival being great, as the weather improves… It gets hard to measure for sure. This is all a “maybe.” I am just conjecturing without major concerns in relating all this to something concrete.
I am not “good,” nor “handsome,” nor anything else, I am just myself, and there is no value in that: it is like being “intelligent,” “short,” or “big-nosed,” I don’t do it on purpose. Actually, if I needed to be more intelligent than I already am, as sometimes life requires, I couldn’t do anything about it. I am not intelligent or stupid because I want to be, but because something bigger (biological, social or spiritual) made me this way. Of course the opposite can happen, people are (or want to be) stupid… But it is more difficult to judge where free will is in this middle of all this. Are we what we are or are we what we want to be? If we are what we want to be, what determines our “will?” When I am surrounded by people more intelligent than myself, I think a lot about this, about not being able to be more than I am, and about them not being able to be less than they are.
Anyhow, given this, it becomes hard to decide until when to be good: only until you can be no more, or while we are not being hurt by it? Can we be so rational in choosing it? I think not. Maybe I can even do this in a conscious manner and say “enough” when it is hurting me, but in general, I can’t.
Oh, but in order to be fair one has to see the other side too: I am also selfish.
Well, I’m at a very unstable phase, which reflects directly on my relationships: I fight with everyone, even with my shadow. Turbulence, as I called it a few days ago when I explained to someone else what was happening to me. A storm.
I think I like portraying myself in more beautiful tones than real ones. Without the colors, what I have inside seems ugly, raw and destructive to people, so much so that when I don’t have the fine layer of protective oil, there is a lot of friction.
People do that: if one’s entire life was one big fight, people don’t care about one more. But if, on the other hand, you were cordial and attentive, during this phase of “fighting,” what people like to see is: selfishness, ill-will, wickedness, bad intentions, and aggression.
I find it very unfair that I cannot have my brief periods of depression, of being down or, like sometimes, the absence of wise words, lubrication, of tact.
Like a person without skin, I know that the view that people have of me is repulsive and I understand the need for distance; I too want distance, I don’t want them to see me like this and find me ugly.
Yet I’m not ugly, as I was also not handsome when I had skin: what people can’t see past their own feelings of nausea, is that their view is not impartial and that, mainly, their disgust wounds me even more.
On Friday I went out with a person who told me at one point:
I could have given you a horrible description of myself and maybe we wouldn’t be here.
This person was referring to an enormous facial scar that I had not noticed was there, the result of a car accident from nearly twenty years earlier, which required more than one hundred stitches to reconstruct their face.
My ability to notice details is only better than my ability to read signs and to understand forms of alien communication.
It is good to meet new people.
I don’t really know where I’m going when I enter the abyss, but I know that people neither like it nor want to go there with me.
Whatever I said in the past, when I was isolated down there, the lack of skin must have been a great sight. They beckoned me from outside the cave and now find me horrible; what does that mean? Does it mean that they didn’t hear me, that they didn’t pay attention to my request to be alone, did they think I was being selfish? I don’t understand anything. If they want me as I am, love me as I show myself. If they don’t, then leave me alone, because maybe I always felt like a lonely monster.
Yesterday someone sent me a very outrageous message about my attitude; it took my plunge into the abyss to the level of personal offense. Then this person finds my stupid jokes to be a great offense. I also fought with another person who thinks that my trying to show anything besides my usual behavior is reprehensible, a type of crime that I never knew existed.
I’m unburdening too much, aren’t I? I’m sorry, it’s just that I am very lonely at the moment.
Yet here I am, maybe being a little aggressive, violent toward people, but I want them to look within, deep within me, and see that to open one’s heart is not exactly a form of aggression as it is being interpreted.
Well, does anyone have doubts about what I talked about? About the style? About the content? About specific parts or anything in general? At least I haven’t yet lost the strange urge of wanting to explain everything to the extent that I can. So take advantage, I love to satisfy doubts. That’s all that remains for me to say.
And sorry if the language is raw or direct, okay? I don’t know if I should apologize, but since every time I communicate with someone I am misinterpreted and attacked, it is better to be cautious, I’m tired of being picked on…
I don’t even know whether it’s right or fair, but it is good to know that someone, in some place, thinks as we’re thinking, that hope exists and that after the storm there will be a safe haven and that people will meet and get along with each other. It’s good not to have been bombarded like an enemy because I sailed far away and people no longer recognize my ship.
If I were to consider that I don’t have one single friend, I would become so ill that it would be better to never again turn my thoughts in that direction: it’s much better to think that they are incapable of understanding others sufficiently well than to think that they are not my friends.
What is happening to me? Nothing more than what always happens to me: a hole. To be separated is too heavy a cross to bear. If I didn’t have something to illuminate my life from time to time, I don’t know if I would be here, if I would have the strength to remain here. Life lost its beauty when I lost something that I thought was eternal; I am tired of hearing “life goes on.” Maybe hating everything will be my way of bearing things, I don’t know… I only think about the injustice of it all, I don’t know whose fault it is for us having high expectations in life, but there they are. To discover that things will never be as I had hoped is something nearly impossible to face.
Perhaps I am in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet this would be easier to solve if people would simply let me be what I want or need to be at this time. I’m surrounded by people who don’t understand this, so it’s better to be alone. In this struggle, innocent people end up getting hurt; I’m like an elephant, a whale, I can’t backup and go away without leaving some sort of enormous void, uncomfortable perhaps, but real. People need to understand that if they want any chance of a lasting relationship, things are not easy inside here.
Recently I read a message from a friend who said, with great candor:
– You’re someone very dear to me, I’m going to bother you whenever I want to, no matter what the situation.
The truth is that we were kind of in tune with each other because we had met not too long ago and, contrary to people I knew longer, I didn’t feel, as I did with others, her beating me up to return to normal. I feel that I am being treated by others as someone “possessed” during middle age, one torture session after another, all of it for my own good… I don’t want that. I was hoping that this person would be different. But what I wanted from other people is this opening to be heard, to see what I am saying, the opposite of having to always hear that I am wrong, that the style is wrong. I don’t want them to agree with me, I just don’t want to be massacred.
Communication is hard work, how do we know that what we interpret is really the written intent?
I missed watching television late at night with someone I chose to spend the rest of my days with by my side. Does it have to be so difficult for others to understand that I cannot be “stable” like they insist? I am not ready to have to discuss imaginary passions or anything ephemeral, I have genuine needs; I suffer; I’m in pain; I feel lonely.
I am going to stop, I don’t want to write any more right now.
(Some moments in silence)
It’s funny, I already fought with many people for feeling this way, I’m not in any condition to guarantee that I will not. What I was saying, some time ago, about not needing anything else:
– I already have everything that I ever desired. I said this in reference to my personal life: I was married, loved, felt loved, with a marvelous life that, though I never had too much money but neither would it leave me starving, it was something I baptized the “french fry theory.” It goes more or less like this:
– Suppose that you have been walking around the world, eating everything, liking some things, not liking others. Let’s say that one day you come across a “dream dish,” something that leaves you ecstatic and completely satisfied. It might not be the best thing in the world, there might be millions of better things in the world, but like the feeling of having found something “definitive,” why go back to other different things? No, I am not ambitious, I already found what satisfies me, I already have more than I could have imagined I would one day have, already found the “french fry” of my life, I could eat it for the rest of days and always want more. It’s not about being “full” of it, I would never eat so many french fries that I wouldn’t want to eat more and need to leave it in search of something else. If I leave, it’s possible to meet new and better things, but why run the risk, if a french fry gives me everything I want?
What else was I saying about the “french fry theory?” I was talking about marriage, relationships, friends, work and about certain discomfort, a sort of “fee” I felt for not being “ambitious.” What I was saying to people is that I was not “greedy,” but ambitious doesn’t mean that I didn’t totally work hard: to have wealth and always want to flaunt it should not be a type of ambition. What I didn’t understand was this human greed always pursues more wealth, even if one already has marvelous wealth; I did not get this.
Now everything has changed: I don’t have my french fry, I lost everything that I ever had; a family, a person who loved me and whom I had the satisfaction of pleasing to show my love.
The moment requires reflection, like: is there a chance of recovering from this? Answer: no. Sure, I can have another family, but this family that I loved so much will never exist again. It seems to me to be a good reason to stay still in the rain, waiting for death by inanition. Hope died, what is there left to move us? This is my moment. I was distracted, finding everything so beautiful, the flowers in the field, birds, sun and butterflies; now I find that I was deceived, nothing exists, I am not loved, understood and being alive is a stupid illusion.
To know that things end doesn’t help much, hence the trauma. When I was married I didn’t think it would end, and now I can’t get it out of my mind, thus sadness…
After a while, we all have expectations, and use the “display of unhappiness” as a sign that we want the other to meet our expectations.
I don’t want a relationship with anyone, nor do I understand passion right now, nor do I want to be in a relationship without passion, nor want any such relationship, nor can I think of changing to be that way and I don’t believe that someone can fall in love without living together. These are my beliefs – right or wrong – about this matter. I am still crying over my separation, still have an enormous unfathomable hole at my feet. What relationship can I have with anyone? It is difficult for both, for me, who does not want to live with a person, and for the other, who will realize how much I still miss Jan.
I was comfortable with telling Jan everything, all the time. Jan was my friend and even on questions of jealousy, if I said that a certain person turned me on, for example, Jan tried to see it as something positive, tried to be open as much as possible and we dealt with it. We solved everything together, we were friends as well as a couple. I miss this in people; to keep it secret that the cleaning lady makes me hot doesn’t seem to me to be grounds for censure. I think that people are unaccustomed to telling the truth to each other, a system in which everything asked is answered with extreme sincerity cannot be compatible with what people are used to or expect from us. I was used to this during the last years, but now I begin to understand that my life was always surrounded, in good times, by people like me who could listen and discuss everything and that, staying close to others who don’t want such openness is harmful to my health.
I have made “offensive remarks” for some time, I see myself that way, doing things that could hurt, since I already struggle with what I think to be the “truth,” which creates antipathy, depending on who it touches. So I know that I will always do these “distasteful” things for the rest of my life. What I don’t understand is how some people have the ability to be understanding and others, who have known me for such a long time, have neither the ability nor the will.
Sure, I’m a sick person, I am in a “bizarre” phase, and haven’t been acting as I normally would. I am more sensitive to everything, but… Usually I don’t care as much that others don’t like that, besides, many people never liked what I do. I am stuck to something that won’t free itself, a small point, but which is messing up my life.
I had begun to cry at this point, yesterday, I couldn’t work any further, then I spent the day crying and resolved to “shut the world out” in some way, doing something that I like: exploring holes. One plan to withdraw from people was this: do what I need to do. Depressed, but working, which is how it should be, right?
I recalled a friend, it happened more than ten years ago, I went to visit him and found his apartment completely different, his wife welcomed me, we chatted a bit, I was also her friend, and, after talking a while, I asked about him and she told me:
We’re no longer together, he doesn’t live here anymore.
I was shocked… A few weeks later, when finally he and I were talking about this, he said:
– She painted everything, wiped out all the poetry, right?
He had, while he was married, completely scrawled on his apartment walls his poetry and his favorite poems.
We were in a group of seven or eight people when this happened: the group was silent for a few moments as he related this, there was a sort of sadness in his words. Then I interrupted him and said:
-No, it’s not true that the poems were wiped out… they are there, still, they’re just below the paint.
Everybody thought this was beautiful, a smile and a light shone in his eyes, as if he were saying. “thank you for having said that! I had never seen it from that angle!”
Yeah, but people are complicated, I can’t say that I haven’t “cheated” Jan, even though it stayed in the “nearly” or “almost.” There’s no such thing as “nearly” or “almost,” Jan was making me very insecure, constant fights, provocations and mentioning certain “passions” that she was having (platonic) and each time I felt more excluded from the marriage and, at one point, with five years of marriage, I spent the night with another woman. Although nothing happened, it changed my life: I decided that I would “re-conquer” Jan, that I wanted to be married and enjoyed being more attentive, more romantic, more emotional, more animal… I tried to rescue the little things from the beginning of our marriage and this worked, it was a fantastic phase. But Jan did not manage to do the same when it came time to “decide” our future… Jan had had a strong attraction for someone at work and she told me that, contrary to me, if she had the chance that I had, she would not let it go by, and would “seal the deal.”
Well, believe me, this is natural, though not in the same intensity that it seems: it’s normal to see someone on TV and feel turned on, it’s normal for a woman to dream about a “lover” from TV, it’s normal for a man to be attracted to other people from day to day, this isn’t the problem; the problem is making this “sublime,” pretending that nothing happened (or believing it did) or to hide it “so as not to hurt the other person” or some other sick alternative. Humanity lives together with this hypocrisy, this isn’t to say that attraction occurs all the time, but it happens and, it’s best to be honest with one another as much as possible for everyone. When I was with another person, I told Jan the same night about what had happened. I couldn’t have done any differently; but Jan had apparently done something previously, about two years before, so it must not have been anything significant: if Jan was able to suppress desires to kiss someone, on certain occasions, I could as well. The issue seemed to be in the past, we returned to “behaving” passionately, as usual. But, it’s difficult, for at the time of separation everything came back. Jan remembered the times when I had been attracted to others and not the times when nothing happened. It’s normal to want to blame me for not liking me anymore.
But the betrayal wasn’t like that, I did not plan it, she was a person I knew from work, it was her birthday, a dinner for colleagues, and people ended up leaving, and I stayed to talk… I had drunk, I was lonely, as it happens several times in a relationship, Jan had been treating me badly for weeks. This person became insinuating, provocative, and instead of finding someone to talk to, I ended up getting involved, for a few hours, fighting against my desire.
Even being under the effect of alcohol, I behaved well. I didn’t do anything other than not refusing the kiss I received… Even when I was burning with desire, I did not go beyond that kiss. Jan, at that time, was already making me confused, was already talking about separation, that I should find someone else, and that she no longer felt comfortable being in a marriage. In some way I felt pushed, since it was Jan who insisted I go to the party, have fun…
When this really happened, I got a scare that made me regain consciousness about what I really wanted: although I was being patient during the fights with Jan, I decided that I would try a lot harder, that I did not want someone else, regardless of how seductive this person was. I decided to reclaim Jan while having double the patience, double the attention, re-doing each little thing I ever had in a special manner, being more than I had always been, even during the good times at the beginning of our marriage. I don’t know if this was worse, if it ruined everything – since it was Jan who should have done this, not me; Jan was losing me at that time, pushing me out of the marriage (on which she agrees, but offers complicated psychological explanations, a family trait, something from her childhood).
I know I should have done this before something more serious happened, but believe me, when we are young – and we always are – we have no experience, since one only acquires it when it can no longer be applied. Had I known, at the time I went to the party, that this might happen, I would not have gone. Too bad, I made a mistake, I am human. But I cannot blame everything on a moment of weakness that was directly influenced by Jan. If I am going to do this, I’ll have to admit that we can’t ever live happily in the universe: everyone makes mistakes and if they are not undoable, how do we stay? The phrase “to err is human” must means something to everyone, as long as there is learning, mustn’t it?
I consider it my mistake having ignored the signals that told me I might get to this point. I don’t blame myself. My mistake was to underestimate all that is possible, all that can happen (thinking I was immune to this). I will be prepared for a next time, and think I don’t run the risk of doing that certain people who, approving of their own conduct or repeating it, tell themselves that they can’t do anything about it. I couldn’t do anything about it, but next time I will. It is too late to influence my marriage, but not my next relationship.
I can’t mistake any of the crises (there was one at the beginning of the marriage, another one two years after being married, and in the later years until separation) as just one crisis, for when Jan was in crisis due to family – until the end of the year it was a terrible time for her professionally, Jan always blamed the marriage or myself, and I was always patient and waited until everything got back to normal.
There was a serious crisis, in the last two years of marriage, yes, but I can’t mistake this for the prolonging of a crisis from five years ago, or I would have to consider other crises as well in this calculation to say that the marriage was one sole crisis from the beginning…
I know that betrayal is an unforgivable fault that, perhaps, was the sleepy cause of a non-reconciliation at the end of ten years, but I don’t believe in this hypothesis. It would be too simplistic on my part. It is necessary to find and understand the context of each crisis, of each fight, or saying it like this, being a reduction to one fact only…this moment of “weakness” – betrayal – having been created a long time ago, at two years of marriage, when, in an increasing manner, Jan pushed me out of the relationship with constant and senseless fights, maybe for feeling guilty.
Maybe I have not been patient enough, Jan was always spoiled, self-centered, the last child in a family of six, she was always used to doing whatever she wanted, however she wanted to do it, and it is possible that this irresponsible way of living life made everything worse. I wasn’t always patient. It was during these moments of crisis that it all surfaced, I will never know for sure, if during these times, it was my fault for not having been even more patient than I was already being, or if they were really just “unavoidable” moments. Regardless, they were several moments of crisis, and not only one which prolonged itself.
I don’t know, it has been over ten years since I’ve fallen in love…I suppose that now I have higher standards, since I no longer fall in love and I have known many people.
Now I am lonely, I don’t frequent any place. One has to remain married for ten years to understand that the friends of a couple are not friends of each one of them. It is strange, but true. The old, single friends disappeared with time, even due to the marriage. The new friends are very recent, and it is hard to fit in if you don’t have company to go with on “couples” outings. So what is left at most is to grab a sandwich sometimes during a break, and it is difficult to cross that bridge… I am a bit slow to make friends. Usually I need many years to get to what I consider an ideal level of friendship.
This abyss makes me think…
I was watching a movie called “Winter Nights’ Dream,”… basic, nice, perfect…a movie as good as a kiss…It was about problems in a theater group. I saw perfectly everything that Jan lives, the angst, the frustrations, fears, pleasure, success, and recognition, everything in its right measure. The best film about theater that I have ever seen in life… I cried some during the film, some more later on… I went to work, but first I stopped by the video store and bought a copy of the film for Jan. But then I remembered that I could not do that, I wasn’t her friend any longer, nothing. Jan would not like it… Later on, I got to thinking about being far from Jan: “hopelessness.” I felt bad, I cried, cried a lot, cried myself to sleep.
I don’t know where to place my kisses, I’ve lost the notion of waste, I thought: why buy a copy of the film for Jan? Jan has probably already seen this film… Is this a wasted kiss? Wanting to give love to someone who no longer wants it?
One day a friend asked me about the marriage, seeing an enormous emptiness in my life, this hole in the ground, and thought that the marriage must have been really bad and that I, probably, would think she should not get married:
Was the marriage worth it?
I know it was worth it, it was. In a form, a little while ago, there was a field to fill in like this:
-What is the best thing you have already done in life?
My answer was prompt:
– To get married!
Marriage is like ice cream; like chocolate. It’s…great!
I will never deny that marriage is wonderful. All my depression and sadness comes from my marriage being the best time of my life. Had it been bad, I would be okay with the separation, I would have recovered quicker. The problem is: who will fit in my life as perfectly as Jan? Who will awaken my desire each time I see them even after so many years? Who will make me proud and make me admire them without hesitation? Who will complete me in so many ways, as Jan used to? It is not the person, it is the relationship that makes me depressed: if a person was such a great fit in my life, such a rare thing, only made for a relationship of ten years, I can only imagine the change I would have had of being happy with the rest of the people I have met and that don’t fit in my way of thinking, acting, feeling, etc…
All this is something that gives me a feeling of impotence in the face of destiny, incapable of being happy with someone again, incapable of ridding myself from an abyss… It makes me think that the best chance I have to live again is to remain completely alone. The impression I have is that I have already lived my quota of happiness, that I would not even need to survive here; but all this is nothing, this immense sadness is nothing compared with the happiness I lived, so I could never say “don’t get married.” I say to get married, be happy, live fully and take care of all the little moments like I did, forgetting nothing. Because if it doesn’t last long, as my own marriage lasted, even then it will have been worth it.
Oh, but after “the storm there is always the rainbow”…
I could add here some phrases that girls write in their diaries that say:
-“Smile, even if it is a sad smile, because it is better to have a sad smile than no smile at all.”
But this is very silly, of course. Better to cry a lot, live with the obligations we don’t like – I too, had to do something the other day and stayed in bed, sleeping, hiding in fear. Liver is shit… If life is liver, it is better not to eat it.
But maybe we are wrong? Maybe it is not liver, it is ice cream and we haven’t even noticed! As I said in another moment, I remain here with a kiss and no mouth, because my desire dies with me, and Jan’s mouth came to my mind but wasn’t here… But, wait! I had bought the film, and since I would be near there… When I arrived, I asked if Jan already knew the movie, and Jan said:
-Yes! This film is wonderful! It is incredible!
Then I said:
– It is for you… a gift… When I saw it, it reminded me of you and I thought you should have it…
Jan hugged me and thanked me, happy. So even without the mouth, the kiss was given, don’t you think? I am happy with the gesture, Jan is happy with life, we are all happy in the way it is possible… It is good to be able to kiss someone we like with the heart, and this same someone receive it with the heart… an open heart.
That is it, maybe life is liver, and some are born liking this disgusting garbage, like the people that are always smiling, beautiful, and life is full of sunshine, birds on the windowsill, butterflies…and there are the other people that hate liver, that between having to smell its disagreeable smell and eating it prefer to die, not to live, But there is the intermediary case, the majority: people that don’t hate liver, but simply don’t enjoy it much or have never tasted it.
One day, should you ever have to eat liver, season it a lot, with onion, garlic or something else you really like, to mask its bad taste… The big thing about life is this: live it, with its bad taste, with a mountain of french fries and all that is good, to distract us from those horrible tastes and smells.
Victor, May 29-30, 2002
Copyright Victor Sant’Anna 2002