Love, Marilyn (And Why We Must Conquer Sadness)

Why do we always feel the need to feel inadequate?

I have just finished watching what turned out to be my favourite Marilyn Monroe documentary, the 2012 feature “Love, Marilyn” directed by Liz Garbus. And as the likes of Uma Thurman and Lindsay Lohan recite the passionate and colourful words of Monroe, such as the beautiful lines:

Everyone’s childhood plays itself out. No wonder no one knows the other or can completely understand.

How do we know the pain or another’s earlier years, let alone all that he drags with him. I think to love bravely is the best and accept – as much as one can bear.

Through these words, we the audience are allowed to empathise with her and understand her psyche in a deeper level, and I did.

As the film finished, I have found myself in deep thought. Throughout the movie I have managed to connect those poems with my life, finding connections that eventually made me feel as if my life is just as tragic and hollow as the poems made Monroe’s life seem to be. Her words have become missing puzzle pieces to create an image of my life which is real but wasn’t clear enough before.

And maybe my life really is what those two words define.

But, so what? Why should I let that define myself? Must we really bother highlighting the bad parts of my life and ignore the possibility that we might be able to colour it with sheer positivity, instead?

I have been conscious about this thought for a couple of years and what my opened eyes have seen is immense. You can give out your time, effort and good energy to anybody you’d like, and I can assure you that only less than half of those people will return them back to you.

I myself have experienced and still experience this, the feeling of emptiness and not being enough when the truth and what my subconscious forgets to tell me is that I am more than enough for everyone. My mind sometimes just chooses not to acknowledge this for some odd reason. Maybe it’s because it’s human nature to need that sort of closure that we know we’ve been of complete service for someone, especially someone we want to impress or someone we want to like us.

And I am positively sure that that exists for me; a group of people who would do to me what I do to them, but kindness and joy, like Josh Radnor once wrote for the Huffington Post, “speaks in more of a whisper and you sometimes have to lean in a bit to hear it.” With that in mind, we can envision the opposite of kindness and joy: cruelty and sadness, as being louder counterparts and easier to listen to, therefore clouding us with false information that we are depressed, alone, not enough and inadequate, which I fully believe is not true.

Foolish as this may sound, but if there were anything that growing up and being a shade more mature (if ever that word would be accurate) has taught me, it is to not expect from others the level of effort that I give out, but still give out more of myself when needed because at the end of the day, once the layers of emotion and judgement are stripped away, I strive not to be a selfish person, or a person restrained by the bitterness that his past laid out for him, but someone who enjoys helping and giving out good energy. That also means learning that not everyone will be as open and as giving as you are to them, and you must be okay with it. There will be some instances where you’ll need to distance yourself from others, and that should be okay, too.

I have the tools in my hands, but all I need to know now is how to use those tools and not relapse whenever I’d fall drowsy at night or drown in daydreams when I take a shower or when I scribble around poetry.

If only I had the tools in my hands, I could have time travelled and told Marilyn Monroe all of this, as I know she would have need to have heard it.

Featured photos above courtesy of Ben Ross’ photography (1953)

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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