Self-Portrait in Blue

Or, The Apology Dressed up in Vanity and Me

The problem these fifty-nine years has been this: how can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outside her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all. – Briony Tallis, Atonement

You could argue that if I were serious about making amends, whatever form that may take, I would do this in person. But, bear with me. I did and said things without thinking them through, and by writing this, I am better placed to reflect on what I am saying. You could also argue that I may be doing this to edit myself and come across a shade lighter. I am not. I cannot, not after what I put you through the deceit, the empty promises, my abandonment of you at a time when you needed a friend most and the reckless way I treated you.

I should have started by saying how sorry I am, for throwing your heart into a blender. The why does not matter, but here it is: I felt invincible. For the first time in a long time, I had everything I wanted. All the cogs in the machinery of my existence were oiled and interlocked and ground smoothly against each other, singing to the same steady beat as I marched on into the world.

For a short spell, I forgot the moving parts in my life, the breathing laughing people, none of them as close to me as you were, with feelings and dreams and hopes that included me. I did not include them, and you, in return. The evilest part of all this is that I did not even give it a chance. I barely lifted a finger. I am sure you noticed, how lazy and arrogant and entitled I was.

To now say how sorry I feel pretentious and vain. I am not the one who got hurt, or rather I am not the one who got hurt the most and in the most meaningful ways. The wielder of the knife also cuts himself, but not as intensely, and does not bleed as much, like the one he cuts. And I cut you deep. I do not know whether or when I will pay for my sins.

My thoughts have been punishing me, eating at whatever illusions I had about myself: I am not the shiny smiling person you first met. I have been, for most of my public life, devious and careless. And deceitful, seeing as I hid from you for so long. It would be expected to say that I never meant to hurt you, and by this point, I have implied it enough. If this were true, I would have made better choices. My actions said it all.

I do not expect you to forgive me or to understand. I feel that I am beyond that, too far from any redemption, at least not for a long time. Restitution is a dream for me, the same way you have dreamed of me getting hurt in return, or even dying, for what I did. Time will take care of that for you. In the meantime, the turmoil within me will keep me busy, and prevent me from plunging someone else to the darkest parts of myself.

It was not my intention to place myself the centre of this narrative, but I do not know how not to. These are my truths, and this is the best way I have of speaking them. I sincerely wish you well. I know you will get to those heights you aspire to, and I hope that one day soon I will become a faded memory. It might be the same one day you look back at your life and realize the grand sum of it had nothing to do with this anguish.

If any good can come out of this, I hope it is more than the seemingly recreational use of your agony to fuel your writing and mine. All of this tastes a bit gimmicky and cheap, and maybe this is because it is like a feather against the tides of our emotions. And still, none of this may mean anything. I am sorry, for what I did, said, did not say, and did not do. I am sorry.




Dear Michael.

Fuck you. Just fuck you. You just walk away?

After all you said to me? After all we did? After all those fucking promises? After all that fucking fucking?  – Bella, Anomalisa


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