Letting go

Every time I’m very angry I remember the story about Gleb. I was 22 when I escaped my family, my ‘friends’, my life and went to live in the states. I had $100 in my pocket and a one-way ticket. I had no idea how they let me through the border control, but nevertheless I found myself living in the New York City. Living is a huge overstatement, because my every day life was actually based on survival. I had no money, I had nowhere to go. My ex of that time worked as a lap dancer where she met this old man who was coming to the club all the time, feeding the dancers, telling them they were beautiful and never asking for a lap dance. He was particularly fond of my ex. So Boris (that was his name) invited her to live at his house. He wanted nothing in return, just her presence there. When I came to New York and had nowhere to go she said she’ll try to get me into the same house. Boris lived together with his older brother Gleb. They both were around 80. Boris and Gleb agreed to take me for a month’s time for free. I got a job in a restaurant and things started to look less gloomy. The restaurant was making very nice food, so I was fed, and I had a roof under my head. It was literally a roof as the house represented a rubbish dump rather than a home for a human being. Boris was obsessed with collecting old things. So the ground floor consisted of a trail through a maze of old magazines, books, computers, some other random parts of electronics. The piles of rubbish were going up all the way to the ceiling. There was nothing on the first floor apart from racoons. You could see their eyes at night through the holes in the ceiling. My space consisted of the bed by the wall and obviously piles of stuff surrounding it. One can say it was like a cell. But I saw it as shelter. Until things started to change… Gleb started to come to the restaurant and wait for me outside. I asked him not to do it but he insisted that it was necessary for he didn’t want me to be attacked by some drunk idiot. Since I was such a nice girl it was his duty to protect me. He tried to cook me breakfast in the morning. I refused. Not because I was rude – it was simply vile. Neither Boris nor Gleb were familiar with basics of the food hygiene. I wasn’t even walking into the kitchen. There were hundreds of flies on the counters and in the sink, so I just didn’t bother to interfere with that natural habitat. Gleb was walking around the house with his underwear all covered in holes. It was not a pretty sight so I avoided his presence at all costs. It was not so easy as I had to walk through his room in order to get to the bathroom. He’d lay on his bed and stare at both me and my ex eating our bodies with his nasty eyes. I just looked at the wall and tried to pretend he wasn’t there. “It was just a month” – I thought and carried on. I was working 60 hours a week and any time I wasn’t working I was either drunk or stoned or both. I basically started going out with guys just so I could afford being out of that house. Finally, I got a weekend off and since my ex was off as well we decided to venture out to New York City club scene. She had some interesting friends. We had a good night. I took 4 different types of drugs and ended up having a bad trip stuck in a state of insane paranoia. Long story short, we came back on Monday morning looking pretty rough and at the sight of us walking into the door Gleb started screaming like mad calling us whores and all the rest. I told him it’s none of his business and went straight to bed. I was too exhausted to argue. When I woke up I found a piece of paper next to my bed. It was a bill that Gleb neatly calculated and presented on an A4. Apparently, I owed him a month’s rent, and $20 for the ice cream he once bought, and all the expenses for food he cooked for me, and the transportation cost of $40 for that time he gave me a lift to the station…Even the taxi would have cost me $20..and I didn’t even ask him to give me a lift. Anyway, I stormed right into his room demanding an explanation. He said that I have to write my consent to pay this amount after my payday or he is going to kick me out that very moment. It was a week before I was due to receive my salary. Since I had nowhere to go and no money to pay I agreed and signed that piece of paper. Next week lasted a lifetime as Gleb has become incredibly controlling and aggressive. I was coming back from work at 12 am and I wasn’t allowed to switch the lights on as I was ‘using his electricity’. I was using the light from my CD player to find the way to my bed. One time I woke up because I felt that someone was staring at me. When I opened my eyes Gleb was standing there in his underwear. When I asked what the hell he was doing he said that he was making sure I wasn’t doing anything nasty. Finally, the pay day came and after I cashed my cheque I went back and paid Gleb two thirds of my salary. The same night I went out with a guy from work, who gave me a lift back. Gleb clearly saw me getting out of the car as the next day yet another scandal was awaiting. He threw out all my stuff to the street and told me to get out or he’s gonna call the police. I gathered my stuff and went to the bus station. I called my friend in Minneapolis and asked if I could come stay with him. He was staying with his friends so he said he’s going to give me a call back. Since I had no mobile phone I gave Gleb’s landline number. I went back to Gleb’s house and asked if I could pay for just one night. He said it was ok for me to stay and even apologised. In the evening my friend called and as I was talking to him, Gleb interrupted our conversation. Apparently, he was listening to our dialogue all the time. He then said that this was not a post office service and the conversation is over. He then run into my room, grabbed the phone and hung up. He called me again a slut and then he called my mother a slut. By this point I lost my patience and started screaming at him too. I grabbed all my stuff and run out. When I called my friend from the phone booth he was raging and told me that I had to leave straight away. I had enough money for the couch ticket. So I went to the Greyhound office and bought a ticket New York – Chicago – Minneapolis. I had no idea what was going to happen next. The bus was leaving early in the morning so I hanged around the station just waiting. Gleb drove to the bus station and found me. He sat next to me, and cried, and apologised. And I just got up and left. I never saw him since.

A month later my ex called and told me that Gleb has died. He died 2 weeks after I left. During those 2 weeks he was incredibly angry and started attacking her as well, so she had to leave the house. Then Boris called her and told her that Gleb passed away.

I didn’t know what to say…

Sometimes anger helps us to push things forward. Sometimes it can give us the energy to overcome obstacles in life. But sometimes we are angry because we scared to let go. Sometimes we just need to accept things as they are. And if we don’t we only hurt ourselves more.

Now every time I get very angry I question myself. I try to understand the source of this anger. I was never angry at Gleb but I was always very sad for him, for his desperation.

When I get very desperate I remember the story of Gleb and I remember that I am too going to die one day. And whatever it is I’m trying to hold on to is most likely not really worth it. I even dare to think that anger is just an illusion. It’s not a real thing. Fear is. And in a lot of times we do really nasty things simply because we see someone/something as a threat. The threat is ours, however. It is barely ever something that exists outside of our perception.


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