Post-Socratic Dialogues – Love: 2
By Greg Scorzo –
Post-Socratic Dialogues are moving thought experiments. They portray elaborate, unfolding situations which, at every turn, force the reader to examine his or her philosophical intuitions about a range of topics. These dialogues are called “Post-Socratic” because there is no Socrates figure, telling the reader which arguments (if any) are the best ones. The reader decides that on their own.
Love: Part 2: Justice
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, It is not easily angered, It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil But rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, Always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4
After breaking up with Janet, Joe is devastated. He spends six months in a depression. During that depression, he tries to contact Janet in order to salvage something like a friendship with her. She ignores his calls and emails. Over the next year, Joe gains 4 stone (56 pounds). He doesn’t have the self-confidence to date or even approach new romantic partners. He is ashamed of his body but can’t motivate himself to lose weight. Joe begans to wonder if he made the right decision when he broke up with Janet.
14 months after the break up, Joe’s mother Judy is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She only has a few months left to live. Judy, before she dies, requests to see all the people in her life that meant something to her. She even asks Joe to call Janet. Joe sends Janet an email explaining the situation. He asks Janet if she would meet him for coffee to discuss a potential visit with Judy, at Glenfield Hospital. Janet reluctantly agrees.
At this point, Joe and Janet haven’t seen or talked to each other in over a year and a half. The day they meet for coffee, Janet is in a particularly foul mood. She has just found out that a graphic novel she has written has been rejected by the publisher she wanted most to accept it.
Joe and Janet are both sitting at a table, smoking outside a trendy cafe. Despite the trendiness of this cafe, it is nonetheless a slow day for business. There are only three costumers inside the building, all with their backs to the window. Joe and Janet are the only costumers who happen to be sitting outside, basking in the chilly spring sunshine. The street they face is also nearly empty, because most people are watching a typical Leicester parade in the middle of town.
Joe and Janet are quite unique amongst the citizens of Leicester. This is because they both hate being around parades, fireworks, and children. Any public event that attracts families is normally an event they stay far away from. They also hate townie pubs. They hate the house and cheesy pop music tracks, typically played in Leicester night clubs. They even dislike dancing in public. However, Joe and Janet do like Gay Pride. This is because they approve of Gay Pride, politically. But just because they approve of the politics of Gay Pride, this does not mean they would ever go to Gay Pride. Gay Pride, after all, is a parade that normally contains cheesy pop music, and street dancing.
If Joe and Janet ever go out to hear live music in town, they will normally attend jazz, electronic, or experimental music concerts. Their musical tastes have remained this way, even though they no longer talk about music together. In fact, they no longer talk about anything.
But today, surprisingly, they are talking again.
This is their conversation over coffee, in the chilly spring sunshine.
Joe: Thank you for meeting me here. I really appreciate it.
Janet: I bet you do.
Joe: Look before we go any further, I just want to say I’m really sorry for hurting you the way I did. I hated saying all those things to you.
Janet: That didn’t stop you from saying them.
Joe: I know and I’m sorry so much of it was so insensitive and horrible. I just freaked out. I couldn’t handle the diagnosis and I started worrying about not understanding you. I didn’t know what I thought about anything. I couldn’t make sense of my feelings. It was stupid, I was stupid and said some unbelievably awful shit.
Janet: I can’t even tell you how much you hurt me.
Joe: I know that and I’m so so sorry, Janet. I never wanted to hurt you. When I said you were pretending to be a decent person, I think I was just… verbalising my fears about the diagnosis. I was worried that my experience of you being so wonderful was just this big illusion. I know I should have trusted my experience of knowing you for three years but the diagnosis made me feel like I couldn’t trust anything. I was in free fall. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the world.
Janet: Then you should have waited until your head calmed down before you made any major decisions.
Joe: Yeah, ideally. But the reality wasn’t so ideal. You suddenly told me you had the ultimate personality disorder. That disorder doesn’t produce nice people. It produces cold conniving bastards. That’s what people think when they know you’ve been diagnosed that way. You’re a movie villain, basically.
Janet: (loudly) But you shouldn’t have thought that! You knew me intimately! You saw me nearly every day. We lived together for two years.
Joe: I know that, Janet. I know I made a huge mistake.
Janet: Nearly every day I had fun with you, brainstormed with you, went for walks with you, gave you advice, asked for your advice, wrote with you, listened to music with you, watched films with you, talked to your friends, made you laugh, made you orgasm. I always held you when there were tears in your eyes. I calmed you down when you were anxious. I was even patient with you when you were behaving like a child. I was fucking loyal to you when I didn’t have to be. I put up with shit most people wouldn’t have tolerated or even understood.
Joe: I know that. You were great, Janet. You were perfect.
Janet: So your fear of me was bigotry.
Joe: Maybe it was. I don’t know. It was wrong, whatever it was. I hate it now. I hate knowing what I put you through.
Janet: Does that mean you want me to feel sorry for you?
Joe: I just want you to know how sorry I am.
Janet: You emotionally destroyed me, Joe. You happily tossed me aside because you couldn’t handle the fact that I’m different to you. You couldn’t be brave enough to face your predjudices. And on top of all that, you were a mean fucking prick.
Joe: Look, I’m not asking for sympathy. I just wanted to explain to you why I reacted the way I did.
Janet: You treated me the way you did because you lacked the courage to see what was right in front of your face for three years. It was no different to racism. You conveniently forgot everything we’d been through together.
Joe: Maybe. I don’t know. It’s hard to find out your partner is a psychopath without it making you doubt stuff.
Janet: Hearing about my diagnosis didn’t ‘make’ you do anything! You chose to reject me because you couldn’t do the decent and humane thing of trusting your actual experience of me!
Joe: I know that but anyone would doubt their experience of their partner if a therapist diagnosed them as a psychopath. Come on.
Janet: Anyone who let fear cloud their judgement would doubt that experience of their partner. Anyone who let cowardice push them into bigotry would doubt that experience of their partner.
Joe: Look, I fucking hate how I hurt you. It’s torn me up inside. I can’t even describe what it’s done to me. But how I reacted was how anyone would react. It’s pretty normal to think you might not be able to cope in a relationship with a psychopath. The world is terrified of psychopaths. It’s normal to be frightened of a person like you.
Janet: I don’t care if what you did was normal! You were bloody sadistic. You told me I was a shitty partner for you, that I didn’t understand love and friendship, that I was only ‘behaving’ like a nice person. You said I was rotten on the inside and that I shouldn’t have been born! I’ve never been hurt like that by anyone! I loved you and trusted you and you let me feel like I should kill myself! I would never have done that to you!
Joe: I know that. I messed up. I totally misjudged everything and made the worst choices. I wish I could take back everything I said.
Janet: I would never make you feel that worthless, no matter what diagnosis any therapist gave you. I went out of my way all the time to express my feelings to you tactfully. I always made a huge effort to treat you with kindness!
Joe: I know you did. You were wonderful to me. I regret what happened every day. I’ve had to go to therapy about it. I’m on meds. I’ve been in bed for weeks on end. The whole thing ripped me apart.
Janet: You got off easy compared to me, Joe.
Joe: Look, I understand you’re angry but I take offence at that. You don’t realise or even understand what I’ve had to go through without you even bothering to return my calls or emails. You don’t know how hard I’ve worked to even be sitting here with you.
Janet: Boo hoo. That hard work apparently hasn’t stopped you from turning into a tub of lard. Why did you let yourself get that big?
Joe: I know I don’t look great at the moment but this is the best I can do.
Janet: The best you can do?
Joe: I’ve been suffering from a depression. I struggle to get out of bed, let alone do anything. The only thing I can do well is comfort eat and that’s not good for me. I know I lost my sense of portion control. I know I’ve been eating emotionally. I’m trying to break out of this habit so I can slim down.
Janet: Really? Chocolate cake for lunch is sooo healthy.
Joe: (loudly) Losing weight doesn’t mean you can’t have a piece of cake! It’s the calories you eat throughout the whole day that matter.
Joe: Look Janet, I can only do what I can to try and get my life back together at a pace that works for me. I’m trying my best to just get back to normal. I can’t do it all at once. I’m trying to learn how to cope with daily routines. I haven’t been able to write for the past year and a half.
Janet: I can see where this is going. You want me feel sorry for you.
Joe: You’re not hearing me, Janet.
Janet: You want me to see how unattractive you’ve made yourself. You’re going to say that the reason I should feel sorry for you is that you’re riddled with guilt about what you did to me. The guilt has made you feel lazy and useless, and so you have become lazy and useless. But I can rescue you. You need my love to make you whole again. Is that where this is going?
Joe: I’m obviously not explaining myself well. I’m not looking for sympathy.
Janet: If you don’t want sympathy, then why explain yourself to me at all?
Joe: I guess its part of healing. It’s something like healing.
Janet: Well, of course. You can feel healed if you think I might pity you.
Joe: (loudly) No, it’s not like that!
Janet: Tell me how it is then Joe.
Joe: I don’t care whether you accept my apology! I have to apologise for me. If I can apologise I know that I’ve done everything I can to atone for my mistakes. I’m sorry, Janet. You can take or leave my sorry. I still have to say it.
Janet: Actually, I think I’m the one who misjudged you when I met you. You were and always have been a selfish and manipulative narcissist. But since I last saw you, you’ve made yourself look like a big ugly turd. At least that might make your narcissism more difficult for you now. Maybe, in a way, this is progress.
Joe: Thanks for all your understanding and empathy!
Janet: (loudly) You don’t get any! You can’t bear the pain of knowing you betrayed me. So you want my forgiveness even though you don’t deserve it! And then when you figure out that an apology isn’t going to give you your precious forgiveness, you apologise anyway! Why? Because it makes YOU feel better! You’re a fucking hypocrite!
Joe: Why am I a hypocrite?
Janet: You’re apologising for YOU! Not for me!
Joe: I’m apologising because I hate knowing I hurt you, Janet.
Janet: You being sorry has nothing to do with you asking for my forgiveness.
Joe: Of course it does!
Janet: Did it ever occur to you that it might make ‘me’ feel good not forgiving you? Did you ever think that perhaps forgiving you might be harder and more painful than simply forgetting you?
Joe: You forgave me for plenty of other things I apologised to you about. I don’t see why you can’t forgive me now.
Janet: I loved you then! I knew I had to put up with some of your idiotic behaviour because that was the price I had to pay for your good side. I was happy to pay that price before you betrayed me.
Joe: I didn’t betray you! I got scared and was unfair to you. But I never wanted to hurt you. I love you, Janet. I’m still in love with you.
Janet: Why should I believe you?
Joe: I don’t know. All I can tell you is how much I hate all those things I said. They were the worst mistakes of my life. I didn’t mean any of them and I wish with all my heart that I could take them all back. Every single one of them.
Janet: (loudly) You can’t take them back! You said them! You’re going to have to live with what you’ve done. Take some responsibility!
Joe: I am responsible! I was in the wrong, but I’ve definitely paid the price for that. I don’t want to keep on suffering anymore. I wanted to invite you here so we could put this behind us.
Janet: No, you wanted me to come here so I would visit your fucking mother.
Joe: Are you gonna be permanently angry with me now?
Janet: I’m angry because I’m here and can see you. Not having you around is best for me because then I don’t have to deal with the anger. I’m not normally an angry person and I find anger unpleasant.
Joe: Why does me wanting to come to a truce make you so angry?
Janet: Because you betrayed me! How many times do I need to keep saying that? If someone betrays another person who loved them and they feel bad, they deserve it! You’re not even taking that on board. You think you deserve a truce with me and you don’t.
Joe: I never said I deserved a truce with you.
Janet: Then why do you want one?
Joe: It’s difficult to explain… I thought it would be best for both of us. I know now that there isn’t a chance of us getting back together, but I thought maybe we could still be friends. I thought holding a grudge might not be healthy for either of us.
Janet: There’s nothing wrong with holding a grudge when it’s deserved.
Joe: Holding a grudge eats you up inside. It’s always better to try and forgive so you don’t have to hold onto anger. For me, anger is a pretty destructive emotion. I would think it is for most people.
Janet: That just means having a grudge eats YOU up inside. But you’re not the one with the grudge, it’s me. And my grudge suits me fine, thank you.
Joe: So you think you can be happy hating me and writing off how important a part of your life I was?
Janet: How kind of you to pretend to appeal to my self-interest Joe. I’m sorry to inform you that unlike you, I can be very happy hating you.
Joe: Hate isn’t a healthy emotion.
Janet: It’s not a healthy emotion for people like you! I’m not like you remember. I don’t need to forgive people because I’m too weak to carry a grudge.
Joe: It’s not a sign of weakness to forgive people, Janet.
Janet: Forgiveness is a necessary evil. In this case, it’s not necessary. I don’t love you anymore. You saw to that.
Joe: Why on earth do you think forgiveness is a necessary evil?
Janet: Everyone you love makes mistakes. You have to cut them slack or else you can’t love them. But if they betray you and the love is no longer there, you no longer have to forgive their transgressions. In fact, there’s nothing that feels nicer than knowing you are free to hate someone when they bloody deserve it. That’s justice.
Joe: You sound like you enjoy hating me as much as you liked loving me.
Janet: It’s not comparable. On most days I don’t even experience the hate I’m feeling now. I don’t waste my time thinking about you.
Joe: I think you’re confusing hate with hurt.
Janet: I can tell the difference between hate and hurt, Joe. I’m not stupid.
Joe: Janet, come on, you know you don’t really hate me. You know you wouldn’t be here if..
Janet: (interrupting) You don’t know anything about me! You assume that because of the time we shared together that I’ll always have a fondness for you. I don’t succumb to sentimentality that easily. I have more dignity and self-respect than that! You can’t make me cut you slack when I don’t need to. You can’t make me love you!
Joe: How much more suffering do I need to go through before you think I got what I deserved? Do you want me to be totally debilitated for the rest of my life? Would that make you happy?
Janet: No, that wouldn’t be proportionate to what you have done.
Joe: What would be proportionate?
Janet: You gave up and betrayed me. You deserve no love, no forgiveness, and no sympathy from me. Ever. If that makes you miserable for a time, good. You deserve to suffer. If you’re in any pain because of me, that’s your problem. As far as I’m concerned, you brought it on yourself.
Joe: So you see yourself on some righteous crusade to see if you can be happy at my misery?
Janet: I don’t need to be on a crusade to do that! I’m not like you. It’s very easy for me to be happy that Judy’s got colon cancer. If it was up to me, she’d also have breast cancer. That woman is nothing but a violent and emotionally abusive cunt. She never did anything for you except hurt and humiliate you. I would say I’m glad she’s dying, but now I’m not so keen on the idea of you being relieved of that burden. You deserve a few more years of that nasty overbearing bitch.
Joe: (shocked) I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you, Janet. I’ve never seen you like this before!
Janet: It’s about time you did. It’s about time you actually listened to me.
Joe: I know my mother’s not a nice person but you’re just being unbelievably cruel right now. She’s dying and wanted to see you!
Janet: You think I’m the one whose being cruel? You’re the one who made excuses for her while she beat on your Dad in front of you! She nearly poisoned you and your sister and you never told the authorities! You never told your step-dad about any of that when he decided to have a baby with her! You think that’s not cruel?
Joe: Janet, she’s my mother and she’s dying!
Janet: (angrily) Yes, and she’s having the luxury of dying! She’s only fucking middle aged. She deserves to live at least another twenty years in unbearable pain! That would be fair, given how she’s treated the people in her life. She deserves all the fear and anguish and suffering that cancer can give a person. Judy’s a bad human being!
Joe: Janet if you feel this way, why did you come here today?
Janet: Because I thought it would be fun to tell you to your fucking face that I’m happy we’ll all be rid of her. That woman is nothing but a vile and ugly bitch. If I could get away with it, I would have killed her years ago.
Joe: (taken aback) Wow…
Janet: You’re not the only one who can be cruel when they want to be, Joe.
Joe: I guess not. But if this is the real you, I glad I’m finally seeing it.
Janet: The real me chose to be a good partner for you! I hid my cruel side from you because I loved you. The effort I made to be benevolent and kind was an effort you will never understand. But I fucking tried so hard! You’ll never know how hard it is to be kind and loving when you have a brain like mine. I changed my fucking personality for you. I know I’m a kind person because I earnt that!
Joe: (loudly) But I didn’t want that!
Janet: (loudly) Yes you did!
Joe: I didn’t want you to have to work so hard to be a decent human being! I wanted that to be natural. I didn’t want to be with someone whose kindness was totally at odds with their nature. That was frightening!
Janet: (loudly) You’re lying! I never scared you before I told you about my diagnosis! I know when you’re scared and when you’re not. I could make anyone frightened for their life in two seconds. You know I don’t fucking do that! I work hard to be kind.
Joe: (loudly) That’s fake! It’s not kindness if you have to work at it!
Janet: (loudly) It absolutely is! You made me work hard to be kind every fucking day!
Joe: It wasn’t genuine. You forced yourself to be kind but I didn’t want to be with someone who has to force it.
Janet: (angrily) I forced myself to be kind because I loved you! I never lied to you about anything you needed to know! I never hurt your feelings. I always listened to you. I was patient. I was forgiving. It nearly killed me but I did it all because I wanted to be good for you! You made me feel things I didn’t understand! I never loved anything that hard! I hurt myself for you, Joe!
Joe: If it hurt so much, why didn’t you split up with me?
Janet: Because you made me happy! You were my fucking soulmate.
Joe: I obviously wasn’t if you hate me now.
Janet: No, you were and then you ruined it. That’s why I’ll never be able to love you again. That’s why I can’t stand you now. You’re a judas.
Joe: We were never soul mates, Janet. My soul mate is a person who can forgive weaknesses in other people. You aren’t that person.
Janet: (loudly) You’re lying about me again! I forgave you for all the days you were grumpy and sulky! I forgave you for all the times I was horny and you weren’t interested! I forgave you for that horrible family you made me be nice to because it was your family and I loved you!
Joe: I don’t think you ever really did forgive me. You pretended to forgive me so I would be more fun and amusing for you later. You tried to manipulate me into being whatever you wanted. You controlled me. That’s not a soul mate, Janet. That’s a dog trainer!
Janet: (boiling with anger) You lying fat piece of shit! I can’t believe what a pathetic excuse for a human being..
Joe: (interrupting) I was right about you! I was right about you not knowing what love is! Love is about forgiving people who make mistakes. Love is about forgiving people because you accept their limitations, not because it allows you to pull them on strings. Love is about loving a person even if the person gives you reasons to hate them!
Janet: (shouting) Fuck off! You’re describing abuse! That’s the love you have for your mother! She spent most of her life beating and humiliating you and you won’t stop loving her! You’re pathetic!
Joe: Would you lower your voice please.
Janet: (loudly) Make me, you fucking wimp!
Joe: So I’m a wimp because I choose to forgive my dying mother for her faults?
Janet: You’re a wimp because you eat shit from the women that are supposed to love you. You think love means tolerating abuse and you can’t handle real love. That’s why you’re a wimp. That’s why you weren’t good enough for me.
Joe: No, that’s why I was better than you! I’m not a psychopath, Janet. I can be human in ways you can’t. I can love people unconditionally. I can give love to somebody like my mother. I can love her even after all the things she’s done to me!
Janet: That’s because you have no dignity! You love your mother because “love is about loving the person who gives you reasons to hate them.” That’s like women who love their husbands who beat the shit out of them!
Joe: My mother never beat me as much as she was beaten by her own parents. That was all she knew when she raised me but her illness is changing her. I can see her differently now that she’s dying. I can see her good side for the first time. She’s very vulnerable, Janet. I can see vulnerability in her for the first time.
Janet: (loudly) She doesn’t have vulnerability! She nearly killed you when you were a kid, emotionally abused you throughout your adulthood, and now wants you to forgive it all because she’s dying! How can you not see that? Are you that fucking stupid?
Joe: She wasn’t just a horrible bitch. She could be fun sometimes.
Janet: You were only having fun to ignore how much you hated her! That’s your coping mechanism. I know you.
Joe: I know she’s not perfect but she tried her best to be a good mother. She wanted to love me, even though she couldn’t do it very well. I can’t hate her. She gave me my love of books. She introduced me to jazz and Bergman films. I’m in the world because of her. She taught me how complicated people can be.
Janet: She isn’t complicated. She’s an evil bitch. Evil people can do evil shit because everyone assumes they’re just complicated.
Joe: No, Janet. Mum needs forgiveness. Everyone needs the chance to be forgiven when they leave this earth. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done. My mother’s a human being.
Janet: (loudly) Your mother’s a fucking cunt! You’re delusional if you think you should forgive her for anything. She deserves to die knowing you and everyone else who has ever had the misfortune of knowing her hates her. It’s not fair to forgive someone when they deserve to be despised. It’s not fair to all the people who deserve to be loved!
Joe: Janet, she’s my mother. She doesn’t have to apologise to me for anything. I don’t think she necessarily deserves to be forgiven for all the things she’s done. But I don’t have much time left with her. It’s that simple. I love her and so I want to forgive her.
Janet: Yes, and reward her for her life of hurting people! That’s unjust and insane!
Joe: You can’t apply justice to human relationships, Janet.
Janet: Nothing is more important to me than justice.
Joe: (loudly) That’s because you’re fucking arrogant. No one can be perfect all the time! If you can only forgive people when they deserve it, people can’t ever change.
Janet: (loudly) Rewarding bad behaviour doesn’t make people change for the better! It enables them. If people behave horribly and only change if they get a reward, they haven’t changed! They’ve just blackmailed you!
Joe: But that’s what most people are like.
Janet: (angrily) It doesn’t matter! If people can only be nice by getting rewarded for being horrible, they don’t deserve rewards. They deserve contempt! You reap what you sow!
Joe: If what you’re saying is true, no parent should ever love a child.
Janet: God, I expected so much better from you. But hey, maybe we were never soul mates. My soul mate can’t be someone who wants to reward abuse. I need to be with a man who has enough self-respect to avoid becoming such a slimy fucking coward. You were such a waste of my time, Joe. I’m so glad I can see that now. I’m so glad I can see that I made the mistake of loving a man who doesn’t understand love.
Joe: (shouting) You’ll never understand love because you don’t understand people!
Janet: (shouting) You don’t understand yourself!
Joe: (loudly) Ordinary people can’t live up to your high standards! You can’t love people if you can’t also cut them slack for being abusive!
Janet: (shouting) That’s ridiculous! Your mother abused you and now you think that’s what love is! You won’t stand up to her! You won’t tell her to stop punishing your father! You defend her no matter what she does! You make the people she hurts feel like you’re against them too! That’s the kind of person you are!
Joe: (loudly) I’m a person who loves people!
Janet: No, you’re a spineless piece of shit, just like she always said you were. That’s why you can’t hate her. You like having someone like that in your life! You probably would have stayed with me if I was more like her!
Joe: Jesus, you’re making me feel horrible, Janet.
Janet: (shouting) Good! I wish you felt worse!
Joe: But I can still love you. That’s the difference between my mind and yours, sweetie.
Janet: Yes you can love me when I’m making you feel horrible but not when I’m diagnosed with a personality disorder.
Joe: I can still love you even though I think you’re a selfish, nasty, pompous, and unforgiving little bitch.
Janet: I don’t care whether or not you love me! You don’t love people for the right reasons, anyway.
Joe: I don’t care whether or not I love them for the right reasons. I don’t love people because of reasons. No one has to earn my love.
Janet: That’s why you love your evil fucking mother. That’s why you can’t accept the truth about her. You’re delusional and stupid.
Joe: Maybe I don’t want to hear truths on your terms!
Janet: Well you invited me here so you’re going to hear them anyway. You’re an enabler. You’re deluded. You’re easy to manipulate. If anyone loves you in a way that’s healthy, it freaks you out. That’s why you left me. You didn’t leave me because I’m a psychopath. You left me because I was good to you! I was nice to you and you had to punish me for it!
Joe: (loudly) You weren’t nice to me! None of your kindness was real! If it was real, you wouldn’t hate me now! You could forgive me the way that I can forgive you!
Janet: There’s nothing I’ve done to you where I was in the wrong! I have nothing to be forgiven for!
Joe: (exasperated) Janet, go back home and leave me the fuck alone! Meeting you here wasn’t a good idea. I can’t have a discussion with someone who lacks an ounce of compassion.
Janet: I’m not leaving and neither are you.
Janet: I’m not letting you out of this chair until I’ve said my piece.
Joe: Are you threatening me?
Janet: No, I’m forcing you to hear me. You’re not leaving this table until you’ve heard me. You’re not getting up and going home until you’ve fucking heard me.
Joe: I guess I don’t have a choice then. I’ll do my best to pretend I’m interested.
Janet: Listen to me Joe: My mind does something a normal mind doesn’t.
Janet: (tearing up) It can hate you and enjoy the thought of you suffering… and at the same time, it can also love and want to forgive you… It can be conflicted… It can love you and want to forgive you, even though it also hates you.
Joe: That’s not unique to your mind. Anyone can be conflicted.
Janet: (crying) But when I’m conflicted I can’t control myself… I came here to tell you something about loving and forgiving your mother… and I can’t get the words out. ..All that’s coming out is anger…I feel like I can’t talk…
Joe: (loudly) Now you’re the one whose lying!
Janet: (crying) I hate you but that’s not why I came here… I needed to tell you something about love and forgiveness…
Joe: (angrily) Fuck you! You can’t love and forgive! You can only pretend. And you’ll never have true love and forgiveness from anyone because you can’t give it! Without love and forgiveness, you’re alone in this world. When you’re alone, nothing in your life matters. That’s why your life can’t mean anything! You can’t lead a good life! You’re dead inside!
Janet: (crying) My life meant something when I loved you!.. You took that way from me!
Joe: (shouting) You can’t LOVE ANYONE BUT YOURSELF!
Janet: (crying) I gave you everything I had!…I gave you my life!..
Joe: (interrupting) You can’t fucking give anybody anything! You’re going to live alone and you’re going to die alone, no matter who you trick into loving you! They’ll leave you, just like I did. I can see it. I can see what a miserable and ugly old hag you’re going to be. You’ll die alone with your justice while the rest of the world can live with love. That’s how it fucking should be! No one can trust you. You’re fucking dangerous, Janet. Loving you is dangerous!
Janet: (shouting) STOP LYING ABOUT ME!! You were safe with me! I deserve all the love I got from you! I MADE YOU HAPPY TO BE ALIVE!!
Joe: I don’t fucking care! My mother deserves to be loved more than you do. She may have abused me for most of my life, but when she’s nice, it’s real. You’re fucking fake and don’t deserve shit.
Janet: (screaming and banging her fist) I’M NOT FAKE, I JUST NEEDED YOU TO LOVE ME!! I’M A GOOD PERSON!!
Joe: (yelling angrily) You’ll never be a good person! You’ll never have empathy! You’ll never be remembered as anything other than an evil little cunt! You hurt people every day you don’t do the right thing and kill yourself! You’re a walking mistake! You’re like a rabid dog that should have been put to sleep! You’re bad for the world and you know it! I can see it in your eyes. You know you deserve to fucking die!
At this point, Janet stands up with a fork in her hand. She has never been this angry at another person in her entire life. She walks over to Joe and quickly shoves her fork through his right eye. Joe screams as blood and his burst cornea pop out of the socket and stream down his face.
Janet runs away, muttering under her breath, “I shouldn’t have done that. I love him. I have to control myself. I have to control myself.”
Joe is rushed to hospital and is both traumatised and terrified by the incident.
For the next year, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder while having to get used to seeing with only his left eye. He does, however, motivate himself to become immersed in his work while he learns to manage his stress.
Despite the terror of the incident, it relieves Joe of the guilt and sadness he felt over having broken up with Janet. He feels his conversation with Janet unequivocally verified that his worst fears about her were correct. For the first time, Joe starts to believe that Janet is just an evil person. He believes she never really loved him. He believes she only manipulated him in ways that gave him the illusion he was happy with her.
It is ironically because of this incident that Joe feels like he can move on with his life. He cannot motivate himself, however, to lose the 56 pounds he has put on. He jokes about having an eye patch and tries to become comfortable being a fat man with a nice smile. He resigns himself to no longer being the handsome man he was a year and a half earlier.
For reasons he doesn’t completely understand, Joe does not press charges against Janet for disfiguring him. The day it happened, he managed to convince the police that the entire incident was his fault.
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