Because of You


“You know the way they catch larks– with a mirror? I’m your lark-mirror, my dear, and you can’t escape me…So what about it? Suppose the mirror started telling lies? Or suppose I covered my eyes–as he is doing– and refused to look at you, all that loveliness of yours would be wasted on the desert air. No, don’t be afraid, I can’t help looking at you. I shan’t turn my eyes away. And I’ll be nice to you, ever so nice. Only you must be nice to me, too.”

Jean Paul Sartre, and his idea Hell resides not in some Ethereal Never Never Land, but in the Eyes of our Fellow Man/Woman, has, along with his Philosophy of Existentialism, been an ongoing subject of Controversy.

Both Secularists, and the Religious have argued over Sartre’s Materialistic Views, with many coming to the conclusion that Ideas, such as, “Hell is Other People,” are nothing more than the By-Products of a Dangerous, Self-Indulgent Man projecting his Own Misery onto the World.

Others have embraced the “Moral Relativism” of Sartre’s views believing it to be the best possible explanation for what they See, Think, and Feel.

Some even use “Moral Relativism,” as a Respite, an Excuse/Rationalization for Being/Remaining Indifferent.After all, why care when, Ultimately, Life is nothing more than a Collective, Subjective Experience?

If Sartre were still alive, I imagine he’d view these Debates as Proof that Existentialism, in general, and his statement “Hell is Other People,” specifically, are, in fact, 100% Truth.

We just can’t Fucking Agree, and if we can’t agree because of our “Subjective Opinions,” how can there be an “Objective Reality?”

And if people refuse to do our Bidding, thereby creating Frustration, Anger, Resentment, Misery, doesn’t that, at the very least, support the Argument Other People are Hell?

Oh, the Circular World of Philosophy, and Logic.

(Fuck, my head is already Hurting)

Personally, I view those Four Words, Six Syllables, 17 Letters, “Hell is Other People,” as quite possibly one of the most Profound statements ever Written/Uttered by a Human Being.

“Hell is Other People.”

“No, take your hands from your face, I won’t leave you in peace– that would suit your book too well…I won’t stand for that, I prefer to choose my hell.”

This past week, my Daughter’s Mother, and I went through Mediation, yet Again.

Simply knowing I will be in Her presence has a Visceral Effect on me. Days before we met, Anxiety was seeping in through my pores.

The Conference Room was a dimly lit shoe box. In lieu of Windows, Kitschy paintings of Horses Running Outdoors adorned the four walls. The Cheesy use of Primary Colors serving as an artificial replacement for an actual Living, Breathing World.Despite the pleasant temperature that day, the heat was on, further adding to my discomfort.

We were/are in Hell.

As she comes into the room, the familiar feeling of being in the Presence of someone outside Humanity, Returns.

My throat clinches, and my stomach tightens in Tacit Acknowledgment-

She is My Albatross, and I am forever Anchored to her Circling Shadow.

Within Five Minutes, she Lies Three Times, and Each Lie is as Irresistible as the Last.

Lying comes Naturally to Her, as Natural as Breathing.

Didn’t I tell my Attorney,

“When we bring this up, this is what she’ll say. She’s incapable of being Honest, it’s part of her Disorder?”

The room is an Unventilated Tomb, and the Valet never once offers us a drink.

Didn’t I prepare myself for the Excuses, Rationalizations, and Accusations days in Advance?

Haven’t I, in the past, viewed her Pathological Lying as a Kind of Moral Clarity?

She knows what she’s going to do, what she always does, and no time is wasted Parrying with herself over Right and Wrong.

Imagine the Freedom of being unhindered by Remorse or Guilt.

All that matters is “I,” and No Quarter is Offered in “I’s” Defense.

But despite my Foreknowledge, I always React, and she knows it, Banks on It.

“That’s a LIE!!,” I interrupt in protest.

My sweaty hands search the table for something to hold onto leaving smudge marks across its Glass Surface.

”No Exit.”

And she just sits there with that Smug Look Wrapping Itself Around My Neck, as her Attorney, Insecurity Permeating the Room like Cheap Perfume, Mumbles under Her Breath,

“Please Love Me. Approve of Me. Please…Anyone.”

But her pleas are ignored.

She is a Fool forever condemned to Meander in the Eyes of Others.

“You scare me rather. My reflection in the glass never did that; of course, I knew it so well. Like something I had tamed…I’m going to smile, and my smile will sink down into your pupils, and heaven knows what it will become.”

Bella’s Mother, and I have Danced the same Dance for Five Years now, and although I know every Nuance, every Movement, she always ends up Leading.

And today is no different.

My anger grows more visible, as my hands signal the Orchestra to get ready.

My Mind, Manic, as Every Injustice, Every Lie, Every Vicious Word Pirouettes through my fingertips, demanding Retribution.

There, can’t you see? Can’t you see the Look on Her Face? Don’t you understand this is nothing more than a Dance, a Performance? Look into Her Eyes!

Those vacant doll eyes…

“You are– your life, and nothing else.”

She is Expressionless, long ago Removed from the World of Humans.

Her Attorney continues to Pantomime, but she is nothing more than an Afterthought.

Our lives, despite my Protests, are Intertwined until the End.

This is Our Dance.

And per My Request, they’re Playing Our Song.

“So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS–OTHER PEOPLE!…”

“Well, well, let’s get on with it…”


~ by fairlane on March 30, 2008.

21 Responses to “Because of You”

  1. “Personally, I view those Four Words, Six Syllables, 17 Letters, “Hell is Other People,” as quite possibly one of the most Profound statements ever Written/Uttered by a Human Being.”

    How fucking true. And the most hellish part is being tied to them through a desire to do something good. Like you raising your daughter. Great writing.

  2. “She is My Albatross, and I am forever Anchored to her Circling Shadow.”

    God, I know that feeling.

    Not forever. Just 15 more years, maybe?

    Other people really ARE hell.

  3. I love a good misanthropic screed. For what its worth, I think everybody has someone like this in their lives. You are not alone, Fairlane.

    Thanks – I never read Sartre, but did read Camus. That was enough nothingness for me.



  4. Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.
    Like all the disenchanted, I found Hell where I once imagined Heaven
    but neither was truth.

    May you be well and find contentment.

  5. Hell IS other people and anyone who has parented a child w/someone and had the relationship end will agree. As well as someone who has 6 other siblings.

  6. Aw shit- I have over the years come to believe as a sort of a tenet that projection is one of the primary laws of my reality. I never have read Sartre, but want to now. Funny how I just wrote some scathing comments about my (as I’d like to call) worse half (but cannot.) I can never really do so freely and without guilt now though, because I do believe that if there is an issue between us, it is commonly held and my part is as integral as is another’s until one or the other truly changes. Walking away works for a time, but if no change occurs, someone else is usually willing will pick up the (sic) other end of the rope to engage in the proverbial tug o’ war. I know my only was out of my own misery is to change myself. Crap.

    I really needed to write that because, while I like to vent in the form of complaining about other people sometimes, it is very rare that it is satisfying. That is not to dis ranting, but a certain form of it that I shall not go into more lest I repeat myself, repeat myself.

  7. Suzi– If it were not for my Sweet Pea, I’d be in Northern California right now.

    – She told me once, and I quote, “I will FUCK with you for the rest of your life.”

    It’s one of the few things she’s ever said, and meant.

    Never break up with someone who has a personality disorder.

    Apparently, they don’t like it so much.

    Ten– Other than “No Exit,” I can’t read Sartre.

    Some of his philosophy makes sense, but his writing is so fucking dry he should have said,

    “My Writing is Hell.”

    Susan– I never imagined Heaven with her.

    It was pretty much Hell from the get go.

    Mary– I feel you, I have 5 sisters.

    Bunch of Castrating Harpies.

    Of course, I jest.

    – I’m not really complaining. It is what it is.

    The post.

    I feel like I’m giving away the punch line, but considering you haven’t read Sartre, I’ll play along.

    I was comparing our experience to Sartre’s play “No Exit,” which took place in a windowless, too warm for comfort, dimly lit room, in Hell.

    There were three characters, Two women, and a man.

    One of the women was a needy, shallow pinhead, the other was a vindictive lesbian who lusted after the pinhead, but said pinhead only found meaning in the eyes of men.

    The man, was indifferent, and more concerned about why he was in Hell, and not so much why they were.

    In the end, they figured out Hell was not fire, and brimstone, and that they were not to be tortured with knives or forks or whatever else. They were each other’s torment because, and here’s the punchline-

    Other people are Hell, they are our torment, because they never do, think, feel what we want them too. They never see us the way we want to be seen.

    They have free thought, and they have their own motivations.

    In other words, we expect the ridiculous from other people (To control them), and in the process it makes us Fucking Miserable.

    The man didn’t want the pinhead unless she could “really love” him, she didn’t want to love him, she only wanted him to justify her existence, and neither of them wanted the lesbian, and so, she wouldn’t let them have each other.

    On another topic-

    “Projection,” is an overused word. I often wonder if people really know what it means.

    If someone is trying to hurt you in some way, it’s not “Projection” to point that out, or to be pissed off.

    And I actually disagree with Sartre about Hell.

    Other people are not Hell, we are our own Hell.

    Like I said, I knew what she was going to say (She really does have a personality disorder). It’s not like she caught me off guard by lying, she always fucking lies (Narcissistic).

    Yet, I still held out my arm, and asked, “May I have this dance?”

    I will say, your comment is fairly “Projective.”

    Is that Irony?

  8. I was talking about myself on all counts, including the complaining (referring to my own post I wrote yesterday.) I’m sorry you took it to be about you. It’s not.

    I look forward to reading some of Sartre’s work. From your description, that does have some of the meanings I was implying.

    I’m sorry you have had to deal with a person who is not capable of being honest with herself or others. I find it understandable that even though it may be simple in a logical sense, it is difficult emotionally, particularly when are children are involved.

    If I had to extend my previous comment to your circumstance (and my harshness is what I save for myself- well, and those closest to me…,) I would just say that maybe you had no warning of these tendencies of hers, maybe you did, but you are in this mess with her because you had a child with her (and I do not by any means mean that to say it was a mistake- I have similar dealings, and would never take back my decisions to have my children, even if I might wish they’d been in different circumstances,) and now there are things in your control and things not within your control and the difficult emotions that are on the situation are those you keep there.

    I am wholy unfit to evaluate your situation, I admit. I only mean to explain now what it is I meant earlier and how it relates even tangentially.

    I have a great deal of respect for your honesty and forthrightness, and was sayin’ what a bitch it is that even those of us (yea right- I mean me and I am being sarcastic) who know what’s going on, are still guilty of projecting our emotions (or otherwise) that are really not any longer caused by a circumstance- or don’t have to be- onto it anyway.

    I’m not sure if that is more or less clear than I meant it to be and I admit it, I’m narcissistic.

  9. Wow. I read Sartre in college and did not make much sense of it then as I launched into what I imagined would be “real” life.

    Little did I know then that I would embrace the notion “Hell is other people” as my life’s motto.

  10. Hello, Fairlane.
    Sad to say, but my ex was like that.
    That’s why I left.

    It’s a difficult thing to see, but there are several more out there just like that.

    In the end, you never really do know a person, but only where that person is at in a moment of time.
    Through the course of time, it might be possible to determine the trajectory of the movement, and it is then that we say that we know a person.
    But still, it is never the person, but only the movement.

  11. So what you are saying, Fairlane, is that Sartre was an optimist?



  12. Yep. Not much more to add, except for this: one day you won’t feel anxiety when you have to see your daughter’s mother, and that’s the day she will know that she has no power over you, she’s lost. Hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

  13. Hello, Fairlane.
    I was thinking of what could be the most beneficial method of dealing with this.
    I believe it would be to go ahead and feign offense at some invented wrong before she has the chance to set you off.
    Perhaps you would find the lack of genuineness in your actions to be distasteful.
    Perhaps you might be able to see yourself as only an actor playing a role. Real-time improv, if you will.
    There’s a kind of disconnect there that can make an unbearable situation bearable.
    I could give you anecdotal evidence, but I will spare you (for now).

    But remember that when the time is right.
    Unless she’s really an over-achiever, she will be pleased enough at your feigned fluster.

  14. Sigh, that’s no good Fairlane. I hate those people who push your buttons and have no compunction about reinventing the truth as they see it. My ex boyfriend always did that to me: I think some people are just toxic.

    The one positive thing I can think is that you got your beautiful daughter out of that relationship – a silver lining.

  15. The times of hell in my life were other people for sure. That’s why I am careful who I now allow to enter into my life. Once burned, twice shy. And the kind of hell we are talking about here leaves a scar from the burn.

    I so felt for you as I read this and I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in such a situation. Hang in there friend.

  16. I have lowered my expectations of other people so far down I actually find hell rather enjoyable.
    I am always plseasantly surprised by the few fits of harmony i atually experience.
    very well written.

  17. Even I agree hell is other people, even if it didn’t sound like that is what I was saying the other day.

    I don’t get here as often as I like; I am never disappointed when I turn up.

  18. That is some heavy shit, my friend. I feel for you. Personal philosophies aside, some people have the ability to get under your skin and just needle needle needle until you can’t even think. For it to be deliberate, though… fuck. That’s a whole new breed of asshole. I mean, I guess on some level you want to understand that a person has mental issues, but fuck… that’s all I can say.

  19. What David said, other people and your post.

  20. Fairlane, I’ll try to be brief because the comments here pretty much reflect what I would say. I would add though that recently a good friend of mine told me that once you show your anger in an argument, you’ve lost.

    Go on a winning streak, bro. Smile when she comes in the room and lies. Like Pissed in NYC says, “one day you won’t feel anxiety when you have to see your daughter’s mother, and that’s the day she will know that she has no power over you…” That moment can happen now if only you’d let it.

  21. freida- I’s been busy, sorry’s it taked muh so long ta git back at ya.

    I thought you were being a smartass, so, I was a smartass.

    No worries.

    DCup- Remember those days when the world was our “Oyster,” and we were a pair of pliers?

    PT- Your comment spurred a discussion between Johnny Wingnut, and myself.

    I think a great deal of that reality is, because most people never really know themselves.

    It’s so fucking cliche, but tis true.

    LE- Yes, my Sweet Pea is worth it. In fact, even if I could go back, knowing everything I know now, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    PoP- In the end, I have no one to blame but myself.

    My attorney asked me one day in court, “What in the Hell were you thinking? She’s a walking RED FLAG.”


    Dave- Lowered Expectations.

    I think that should be the new American Motto.

    Fran- I still love you, even though you don’t bring me flowers anymore.

    Cowboy- I must admit, when I worked as a counselor I always enjoyed working with people who had personality disorders (Except for Fucking Borderlines. Aaargh!!).

    They’re fascinating, but un-treatable.

    Narcissists, and Anti-Socials are very similar.

    Utterly detached.

    In a way, it’s sad.

    Randal- What I said to Dave, and the rest.

    Spart- Easier said than done my friend. Also, I was surprised when they had us sitting across the table from one another.

    Usually, in mediations, they separate the parties.

    Obviously, you wouldn’t need mediation if you got along.

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