The mathematical equation
I learned to say that ‘I am tired’ after reading Bulgakov’s ‘Master and Margarita’. Again that presence says, hysterically, passive aggressively, in between the lines that by saying ‘I learned’ I just revealed that I use it as an excuse or a trick to get attention. I now struggle to continue my story. In ‘Master and Margarita’ the main character says at one point, after being much tormented by Satan who arrives to Moscow but is saved by his lover, Margarita, that he is tired. There was something in the way he said, although they were just words on a book, that I heard it and realised its importance. It mattered that he was tired. I had been tired too, for a long time, but hadn’t known that I could say it.
When I watched Bright Star I learned that being hurt by someone’s words was real and valid. I saw it, on Fanny’s face in that film and for whatever reason I understood that I have a heart too and that there have been people who have been quite nasty to me. I had been somehow numb before and unable to react. I find it odd that I should have to learn such things.
Bright Star was such a beautiful film. I remember pouring myself a glass of wine just before the film started but not being able to even touch it. I was so mesmerised by the film, its colour, the harmony, by the way they spoke. I love the English language.
I must appear odd to my work colleagues at the coffee shop with my insistence to not be photographed. I am painfully aware of it. It doesn’t go with the flow, especially then when some people have ignored my request and they attempt to photograph me anyway. I am embarrassed by the disturbance it causes when I have to be more assertive with my ‘Please don’t’. The air is heavy with a gnawing sense that something is not as it seems to be.
It dawned on me that by staying away from the frame I exclude myself from the others in real life too. In this sense the camera tells the truth. I do feel separate, like an outsider most of the time. I carry a lot of pain inside which I disguise and the camera reveals it. I can no longer hide, I am unable to pose like the others do which in itself is revealing.
I am not very hopeful that this process will change the way I feel about being photographed.
I has become an instinct for me to hide and refuse to define myself. If I am not seen I won’t be laughed at, if I am not there in the photograph I won’t be ridiculed. If I appear perfect and meek I won’t be picked on as much, if I cannot be defined no one will try to crush me, take control over me. It is as simple as that, like a mathematical equation, but how I got there still hurts.
Both Tom* and Sheila sought to get an upper hand over me. It was as if once they were able to define me they were in control. Sheila would dispute and disagree what I said about myself, about my experiences, not ever allowing for the possibility that she might have misunderstood or made the mistake of assuming. ‘As if she thought she knew you better than you know yourself’ my sister said. That is exactly how it was but I didn’t know how to say it. I was so tangled in my mind about Sheila’s ways. She mocked me in between the lines, especially when it came to my creative ‘things’. Then she was quite blatant. The way she made fun of me was by smirking, stating a fact about my photograph being black and white for example but saying it mockingly. She often commented on my appearance or choice of clothing in a similar manner. What she then particularly went after was my inspirations and dreams. I didn’t ever know what to say to her.
I was not sad when she moved away but I missed her for a long time whilst being angry with her at the same time. She was a good conversationalist, funny and emotionally intelligent. She had lived a life and perhaps therefore understood some of my experiences so well. Not many people do. It was when I remember this one incident and realised that she had mocked me already then that I stopped missing her. I now cannot believe that I have been so slow to hear it. I have been plain dumb.
I am embarrassed that I was friends with her for so long. Everyone else seems to have good friends. I know that it is not my fault that she is the way she is but I have wondered what it is in me that attracts people like her. I have tried to be kind to her. She is obese and unhappy, so desperate for a boyfriend and bitter about not finding one that it is painful to watch. However the only way I have been able to get over all those things she has said to me (and there is plenty) has been to call her, in my mind, ‘that f**king bitch’. I am not proud of it and quite baffled by it- what about forgiveness? Sheila is not her real name but I chose to call her by it because if she knew she would be offended. My hidden revenge.
What Tom did was even more harmful. When he stroke he really went for it. Thinking about it all makes me anxious although I now know better how to describe it. I felt powerless before I was able to. It is a bizarre phenomenon, to see with one’s plain eyes what is happening, to hear the words, to observe it, understand it all but be unable to tell anyone about. I have read from somewhere that it is a trauma response. I hesitate to suggest anything so dramatic. Besides, be it a result of a trauma or not it would not change how I am able to deal with it. There is no other help within my reach right now except anti-depressants and this, writing.
Everything is such a raw mess around this issue that I struggle to pull it apart. I go around in circles. An answer came to me as I was brushing my teeth, on my way out to buy a ready meal. I rushed to my room to write quick notes on my notepad so that I could write it all out later. I had gotten to that point of dizzying, nervous hunger again. It tends to happen when I am in the midst of working on ‘my things’. I forget to eat and if I do it doesn’t nourish me. Right now I needed a sturdy meal and I needed it fast, my head was pounding. Identity, the power of definitions, Sheila, Tom. Nothing is hidden in my mind, I can see the causes and consequences, the wounds that bleed even if I only glance at them. I often cry, I have cried now. But now that I have come back and eaten I am not able to write it all out. I thought it was going to be easy, to simply follow those topic headlines and write what is on my mind.
I woke up early to write. Last night I would have stayed up longer but I knew that I would not be able to write anything good then. I couldn’t get sleep at first and kept waking up during the night. Maybe I had had too much wine. Artists are romanticized for this kind of behaviour but there is truth in there too. The creative process haunts me, doesn’t give me peace. Sometimes I am afraid of getting too tired. I am a bit weary of this week. I need to rest but I am working quite a bit. I have to, I have to pay for all those trips I have booked. What I should have done this morning was to go for a run. I need that equally as much. But I wasn’t happy with the tangent I had gotten on last night and I wanted to delete it and write it again. I didn’t have time for a shower so I just pulled my hair back, put more make up on than usual and went to work.
What is also looming at the back of my head is that story about the day near the Pyrenees. I realised that it is not finished and that it has flaws. Another downfall of mine, impatience. I was in a rush to get it ready. Now I have to write more, of something that is painful, that makes me almost sick in the stomach. I have wanted to forget about it. Maybe once I write it out I will be able to but I cannot bring myself to revisit those scenes in my mind.
*some names have been changed