What a terrible life I lead, she thought to herself. I live in a world where there is no one to come home to, no one to comfort me, to speak nothing of the aberrations of my soul. What is there for me to look at but a fragmented life? Hardly a life at all. I live with sadness and futility, the ecstasy of loneliness, vanity and conceit, egoists, and narcissists. A paltry existence. The rain falls. Leaves are defiant every winter. When it is summer; I feel no summer against my skin, no lover in my house, nothing and nobody can reach me either in this atmosphere. I only have stark reminders of what happiness in my life used to be. I am not digging for fossils in Utah. I am not counting the 7 billion people on this planet.
How can I have the audacity to love anyone or any one thing in this world? I long for a dreamlike escape. Death. I am circumspect about death. I do not have close relationships, close friendships with other women. My sister is in faraway Europe away from me. Put away from my life. She understands the value of self-love while I am running on empty. There are days when I feel frightened of my future and what will inevitably become of me. Death seems lovely then. The only exit out. I am no longer wary of these thoughts and feelings of death any longer. I only ask that you no longer feel sorry for me. Already I live in abject poverty, with despair and hardship and countless misgivings about the mistakes and poor decision-making I have made.
How I should have made my escape long ago. Perhaps then I would have found someone who would have held onto me and never let me go. Someone of substance and a beauty only known and seen by me. But now the world is a killing world, and it kills me. I sob into my pillow at night. I watch the sexual transaction on the television screen and find the actors absurd. It seems inconsequential to me. The sex act. I find my life sanitary. There was a time of flowers when I had men in my life, but I don’t anymore. It comes to me as no surprise to me that I miss that part of my life. The sex act was perverted then. I was a meat body. I was like a champion animal.
Longing for the bloody meat, the loveliness of flesh and bone of the body that was thick against my own. I think of compensation. The sins I committed were impure and heinous. It was not a pleasure to God whom I worship now and pray to, to forgive those indiscretions. I am morbid. I have made mistakes in my choices of men. Oh, I have made a few. I am a disabled woman of 42 years of age, and I have fallen in love with a man called Dennis Glass. Glass is my psychiatrist. He is the kindest, gentlest soul I know. Have ever had the fortune to meet. What we have is neither perverted not clandestine. The arrangement? I meet with him every six months for 15 minutes. Then I make my departure to my car and then home.
Until the date on the card I am given appears. This morning I got up, went to the sitting room all pensive, my nerves on edge as usual. I picked up a handful of magazines lying around the flat for perusal. I sat down with my coffee and journal as usual. This is how I begin my day before checking emails. Before switching on my laptop. Before working on a screenplay. I was a poet in a former life as a university student. That was before I found God and religion and chronic illness, and the stress and anxiety of my studies forced me to drop out. I was lucky then I had encounters with men that were physical and pleasurable. Now I have lost the plot completely on how to behave.
For when I told Dennis Glass that I was in love with him he said in no uncertain terms I was behaving as if I was emotionally unstable and that was dangerous. I had been doing so well, he said. He promptly changed the milligrams of the prescribed medication. I felt both a fool and a coward. I trusted his judgement, so I took the pills. I dreamed of having a life once. When no disability touched this body or framed the psychology and education of my mind. When I was free to sleep with any man that was in love with me, and I would think to myself that only sin would save me. I was so angry, and this anger tormented me. I was angry at everyone and blamed my father’s neglect of me and my narcissistic mother who abandoned me to wolfish men.
I kept my growing unhappiness to myself in these quasi-relationships. And then the accident happened. One man beat me up and broke my jaw and twisted my arm and broke a finger and cracked a rib and as I lay in the hospital ward, I thought my life a nightmare that I had dreamed up. But when I woke up breakfast was being served and I of course could not eat. I healed but the healing was slow, and that man that had picked me up that night in a bar repeatedly called me “whore” and “Jezebel” as he kicked me in the stomach. Oh, I was brave and did not scream out but moaned and grunted repeatedly. He disappeared and there was no police report for I had become the woman who had cried wolf or a Susan or a Jane or a Virginia or a Winnie who was mentally ill. I feared no one would believe me because the man did not exist. Perhaps I had fallen down a flight of stairs I began to think as my physical body began to heal. But the trauma of that night remained with me.
Your father died, my mother said on the phone. You don’t have to come, she said tersely. I have made all the arrangements. I was no comfort to her then as I was as a lonely and depressive child. I locked myself away from the world and thought of Dennis Glass’ wife. I will make a soup today and I brightened immediately at this thought. I thought I would bake bread too. I could have it the next day and toast it in the oven. Topping it with baked beans and a lace of cheese and then afterwards I would tap hot water into the bath. Immerse my hand into it. Test the water and open the cold water tap until the temperature was just right. Outside the wind blew and children walked past my flat in the street below. One lone child walking just ahead of them. I used to be exactly like that child I thought to myself. Maybe tomorrow would be a better day. I’d stop seeing that woman in my bathroom dressed in a red dress that cut her at the ankles. Her staring at me with wide dark eyes admonishing me and the act that I was about to commit which was to take my own life. She looked like that poet. Everyone whose anyone in the literary world knows her name. The poet with the bobbed dark hair. Ingrid Jonker. Come with me, she said to me one evening. The hereafter is sticky like candyfloss when it sticks to the roof of your mouth. The hereafter is sweet but not as long as an eternity of hoping that life would change for me and that I would find the untold happiness that I had been searching for an entire lifetime. One evening the apparition sat on the toilet seat studying the red pearls of her feet. She began to stare at them meticulously. Then she took a wad of cotton wool and began to rub the nail polish furiously off.
My parents had given me a car as a going away present when I left for university. So far away, my father said with a distant look in his eyes, blinking back tears. He asked me when I would come and visit. Yes, soon. I lied. This would become the modus operandi for the rest of my life. Lying, stealing, begging, lying down on a bed wearing nothing but a crown of thorns on my head, or sipping red wine that smelled slightly acidic. I knew once again the ecstasy of loneliness as the water turned a bright colour. All I could see was red. I thought to myself how no one would find me. The last thing I saw as I closed my eyes was the woman in her long satiny dress climbing into the water opposite me and reaching out her hand to me. No one is coming to save you, she said. Are you okay with that?
I would never meet this apparition for example at a party she was the hostess of. I would never dance with her husband at one of those parties. I opened my eyes. The apparition was no longer there. I was witness. I was spirit. I was ghost and the material I was now made up of was ghostlike. The red water had turned cold. I touched my hair and my face. It’s alright. It’s alright, I said to myself. The suicide had been a success. God reached out his hand to me then and said, “Welcome child. You need suffer no more.” The unhappiness I had always felt disappeared for I was at last home.
Thoughts are drops of water. I am swimming in a lake drowning in its negative vibrations, but I no longer felt hurt and deeply wounded by this desolate place called our world. You know, it is your pain that prepares you for your purpose. Your destiny and my destiny had a purpose, a calling, a testimony of Messianic zeal. It has been the spiritual life that has always sustained me. Where is the imbalance now? What is lost in translation? My endurance has grown. If I had had a daughter, I would have given her the texts of Imagists to read. French literature. I would have introduced her to Rilke’s Prague, Russia, Sweden, and Rodin.
Image: David Romualdo Unsplash remixed