One thing I have learned in this life: never, under any circumstances, ever read Virginia Woolf when you are upset with a man. It will only sharpen your angst, I promise you.
I have read her many times in the distant past, decided to re-visit her recently thinking it may sort of prime me out of the apparent inability to paint I am suffering with presently. I have always known literature to be a creativity lubricant.
“A Society” impressed me as downright bitter, a sarcasm with brilliantly honed edges. She mimics what she hears men say women should be interested in, cites the covert objectives men set for women, mocks the masculine self-aggrandizement men seem heir to in certain circles, as though being male is a right to rule, a gender appointment to superiority instead of just a gender. ( See ?? She has ME doing it, now. )
I am struck by what her life as a gifted writer must’ve been. I do not pretend to put myself in the same category as Virginia Woolf, but I must say I can easily feel her pain. At practically every turn in my life, a man has been there to fuck up my progress or subvert my answering the soul call to excellence. Now, this is not a wimpily constructed complaint or excuse, because despite saying this I have accomplished rather a lot in my time and am fiercely proud of that. Not to acknowledge how men limit women, however, is to deny a harsh reality, a set of parameters all women in a male-dominated society are obliged to operate within, that is if they have plans to do anything other than be a convenient sperm receptacle who also keeps house and whips up nachos. It has been thus since the dawning of time. Pick up any book and read about women scientists, authors, artists, business women, female politicians, sports-women, aviation, any area of endeavor you choose, you will see how men eventually control it and thereby also ultimately control women.
My unusually cerebral and attuned friend Joel says I am beautiful and highly accomplished, a skill set some men do not accommodate well from a feminine origin. ( being beautiful forces you to develop accompanying skills; ask any pretty woman why ) I have no idea if Joel is correct or no; it is his opinion and while flattering to me, I sweetly suspect there are ulterior motives for his saying it, yet another manifestation of how men attempt to employ women’s self-esteem issues to their own benefit….that thing whereby no matter how lofty the man and his ostensible motives, when hearing a womans’ hesitancy and self-doubt, rubs his hands greedily together in that recess of his mind where erections develop and desire to dominate lives. ( sorry, but its’ true and you know it.)
I am certain appear hideously men-bashing, which is not the reality at all. I love men, adore them, greatly relish the way my reflection dances in their eyes. In an appropriate setting, I flirt in the true Southern manner and enjoy it immensely. That does not prevent me, however, from seeing the truer nature of things or from being an acute observer and sometimes active participant in this hormone-heavy circus of a male-favored society we labour in.
Truth be known, I have been circumstance-compelled to utilize men’s predilection for dinky-dunking to my own advantage. This is delicately tricky business, must be carefully undertaken or one ends up in a murky place where it is the vagina which makes the true accomplishment and not its’ hostess. Initially, I tried the above-board ‘I-am-Woman!’ method repeatedly to little avail; sincerely believed if I was efficient, extremely well educated & knowledgeable, carried out my responsibilities with zeal and dedication this would facilitate my advancing my ambitions to the next level . My plan failed miserably when I was given serial object-lessons in the way men respond to women whom they perceive to have more smarts or wherewithal than they. Then you are not simply a co-worker with talent and ability, but a ruthless, ball-busting know-it-all bitch. I have heard these exact words spoken when men didn’t realize there were female ears listening. And yet, those same men, when molly-coddled with a softly modulated female voice, the modestly-apportioned strategic touch of the hand now and then during a conversation, a smile interjected at certain points….can be bent to do almost any will a woman may have. It has never failed to amuse me how the power of poontang can motivate and inspire men, even allow them to be manipulated. They are such simple creatures, actually, most of the time no more complex than a grazing bull calf. (All except my sons, of course, who are exceptions in their gender.)
This fact unfortunately adds to the furor any woman feels when being subjugated by a man; who wants to acknowledge that someone with merely bovine intelligence has the upper hand in your life ?!? It is an equation I will never grasp the function of.
As for my own little societal microcosm here, Eric makes the appearance of being conciliatory toward me. I should add I recently learned in addition to looking up the ex-heifer behind my back, he also found it necessary (and permissible) to engage the services of a hooker. He had sex with a complete stranger. I cannot adequately articulate the effect that reality has had upon me, and I learned of it AFTER our “reconciliation.” I am unsure what the rule is regarding disclosure of infidelity post-reconciliation. ( actually, he did not disclose it; I found out the hard way, even more detestable because he withheld it, STILL lied even after I knew what had happened!) I despise him for it, of that I am certain. He paid to give to a prostitute what he could have given me without commerce. I cannot fathom it.
Perhaps by doing that, however, he kept me from being a whore. It is said Artists are the worst whores, which obliges me to consider what I am willing to do to stay in this house where I have such a dear and amazing studio, my own womb for creating. I am obliged to consider what I have already done to stay here and be able to paint and write.
I look at him and I no longer feel that familiar leaden ache, but a yawning emptiness, a void of feeling where such rich feeling once dwelt. The contrast is startling. Suddenly, he seems pathetic to me, too-eager to have me remain as his significant other. His touch makes my skin crawl now, whereas before, I craved it, bitterly resented the withholding of it.
We went out with his friend Tommy Saturday night. It had been planned for weeks, this outing, long before our recent blow-up. I was invited and agreed to go, rationale most perverse. Newport hosted us, with its’ constant party attitude and tourist-thronged streets. I went for the most bizarre of reasons: I knew the opportunity to even up the score , even if only a little, would present itself and it did. Tommy is unaware of the inner-workings of our relationship, does not know how Eric mistreats me, how he has cheated and lied, how he dominates me at every turn, how I am obliged to succumb if I wish to keep the roof over my head.
Tommy, an attractive forty-something with an alcohol and priority problem, openly admires me, announced upon arriving at our house that I am “radiant”. He seems to see me as some sort of ideal woman, often states he wishes his wife were like me. ( I pity his wife, then; she too must live at the fifth ring of Hell.) In the grip of tequila, he mushily announced “ Cheese (his nickname for me, comes from Frank Zappas’ “Susie Creamcheese”), you are so frickin’ LOO-meee-nusssssss !” “Cheese”, he slushes, “ you are very fetching !” as I marvel at his use of the word “fetching”. Eric just sits grinning stupidly as Tommy makes these proclamations, knowing he has no wherewithal to the ego-drenched jealous retorts he would ordinarily make.
Tommy commented frequently during the night that men around us were admiring me. I enjoyed the stab that was to Eric. Tommy, in his cups, launched this pretty speech about how when they are out together, Eric NEVER looks at other women, NEVER initiates contact with women, doesn’t fall all over them the way Tommy does. ( I think sympathetically of his poor wife again as he says this). I look at Eric, my face a study in Kafka-esque irony, and archly tell Tommy “how wonderful it is that you know your friend so well !” Eric squirms in his seat, visibly agitated, as I continue, “Yes, Tommy, how wonderful it is to me to know my mate remains continent even when he is not with me ! A tremendous comfort to me !!..”. Tommy is too drunk to appreciate the acid in my voice, completely misses the sarcasm of it.
Eric gets it, though, and his expression illustrates that.
Eric appears genuinely miserable, seems to be looking for something large enough to crawl under. I am enjoying his discomfort to the point of being demonic, can’t seem to help myself. I briefly weigh whether I should publicly humiliate Eric by telling his dear friend who proclaims such familiar knowledge how Eric has soiled himself with lies and infidelity. I consider how Tommy, who makes no secret of adoring me, would receive that information.
While it virtually makes me purr to momentarily test-drive the sense of revenge that moment would provide me, I yield to a greater sense of high road and keep it in my sneaker instead. The look I give Eric more than advocates for my true feelings. He knows that, cringes under my steady, burning gaze.
Something in me has an IBM missile-pointed need to re-pay him for the indignity he has served upon me, for all the nights I lay my head on the pillow not knowing if I would still have a home upon waking; for all those heart-rending moments in the garden wondering how I could possibly live the remainder of my life without it; for all those pitifully lonely times I wept bitterly, not morally able to relent to infidelity, not weakened sufficiently by isolation to abandon my ethics as Eric has.
Something in me wants recompense for the suffering, for being made to feel my being an artist is a stone around Erics’ neck, a personal burden he is made to bear against his will. Something poignantly asking in me wants to be loved just for who I am, without condition or “in return for’s”. All those times I asked him directly if he was having an affair, even asked if there was something he needs in a relationship that I do not provide…..and I was treated as though I am hopelessly suspicious and evil-natured; he even laughed, as though the mere question was a ridiculous amusement.
All those trips to get cigarettes at ten pm, all those three and four times a week late evening trips to Home Depot. Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
I am wondering exactly what in his experience with me led him to believe I was that stupid ??
It has taken me all this time , having gone through a variety of emotional roller-coaster rides, to divine what I truly need. I thought it was this home, this place, and Eric. His lying has deprived me of any tender illusion of partnership I may’ve nurtured. It is gone from me now, and even though recently I wept thinking he was lost to me, it was this home, the very roof I love, not Eric; not any longer. I can never forgive what he has done; with every phone call he gets that I cannot hear, every time he leaves this house, I will wonder who it is that gets his undivided attention; when he is far away in thought I will automatically assume it is the vast cache of yet-unobtained pussy that occupies his thoughts, the infinite variety of twenty and thirty-somethings in the next bar, across the street, in the video store, at the red light in the car beside him, that he has yet to pursue and screw. Our life meant nothing to him, and for that particular sin, there is no absolution. He has fed me a steady diet of toxins, and now the poison will out.
I need a place to live. I need a place to work, to heal and grow; my own little spot in the world I am obligated to no one for. I need a place to give my art life and thereby sustain my own life. My very survival depends upon it.
I don’t know where to go; I have no money, no home. So I continue here, hating him for the humiliation, for the malice in his deception, daily attempting to choke the raw, acrid bile of it down.
Somewhere, there must be a place I belong and create in; some magical kingdom I can be exactly who I am without the constraints of fulfilling a man’s archaic expectations…..somewhere, there has to be.
God, please help me find that nirvana before it is too late; I am soul-weary of all this struggle.
I am tried of being so angry all the fucking time.