Poems By Raymond Antrobus

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Letter To The Other Half Of Myself

"No one will remember you if you keep your thoughts secret, force yourself to express them"
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dear Other Half Of Me.

Why can’t you be more involved with me? I am the other half of you. Why aren’t we looking people in the eye on the street? either you’ve been in a city too long or you have a self esteem issue. We’ve got to find a way to work together. There aren’t many people to fear you know? Look at you... you’re the beautiful side, what do you have not to be confident about? You need to tame your sensitivity a little bit. Last week we sat on a stall by the window as the sun came into Grandma’s kitchen. Grandma is 95 and she was looking at a black and white picture of herself in 1939, standing on a hill of grass. She was wearing a summer dress and smiling. She stroked the picture and said “enjoy beauty because it fades”.

We’re 24, way too young for feeling hopelessness, ugliness etc. Now, I know you don’t want to hear this but on the days you spend alone you have at least one suicidal thought. Nothing in your life is that bad so this needs to be attended to. Life will give us enough reasons to be sad without making up your own.

You need to get yourself in a place where a) you aren’t bored enough to dwell on the past, b) you stop longing for lovers that aren’t yours any more, c) be more focus on pushing your projects forward, d) have more confidence in your ability to assert yourself to engage with people.

Let’s talk about women, now a lot of men kill themselves after being left by a woman they love. They fall into this trap of not working on their own identity while they have the security of their partners. Things feel easier in a relationship, you constantly have someone around you trust and talk to about anything. Life in general is easier and more stable. Didn’t you also see a poster recently that said “happiness is regular sex”? if you have issues with yourself before you get into a relationship and then they seem to disappear when you’re in one, never kid yourself by thinking the pain of your issues have disappeared.. they haven’t, you’ve just found a way to get away from them for a while.

Sadness comes to us when we aren’t enjoying our experience of life so even if you aren’t doing something productive you’ve got to enjoy it. We were down Brick Lane once looking at two drunks throwing up outside a bar. You pointed at them and said to me “I don’t get it” and I came up with the idea that going out on a Saturday night to get pissed is a performance. We write and perform poetry, we’ve set up a life that gives us a stage to explore the world that is in us and that is how we perform and that’s how they perform. That idea sounds a bit smug out loud but it sat well with both of us as we discussed it.

Let’s talk about the other other half of us, Dad. He’s been talking about his own death all our life and now we’re older we see it’s his own fear of being left alone that has pushed people away from him. I remember when I was about 10 and he came in the house and fell on the sofa almost in tears saying “I’m dying, I’m dying” and I sat there in tears thinking I was watching him die... actually he had a stomach cramp... that moment is scarred on me and over the years I’ve numbed to his “I’m dying” claims. However, you don’t forgive him for injecting you with the fear of his death. We were ten and you were afraid of losing your dad. We’re 24 now and we’re both surprised he’s still alive. Luckily, he’s not alone and he’s got a woman to look after him. Our Dad is an intelligent man and has always had the capacity to be something that reflected that but his lack of self awareness has prevented this. He was an alcoholic, gambler and still is a heavy smoker. He’s not going to change so the only peace we’re going to have with our dad is keeping our expectations of him as minimal as possible.

Lets talk on your productivity, you are not disciplined enough to be the best writer you can be and if the stick you give yourself for this isn’t motivating you but adding further hindrances you need to stop and enjoy the time away from your desk... we should go to the cinema and to theatres more often.. its something that helps us connect.

I think you think too much. I think people who think too much open up more possabilities to be sad.

Lastly, I’d like to tell you this as I think you need to hear it... do not lose faith in your ability to communicate. You are very good at it.

Love from the other half of yourself.

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