After the marathon that was the first half of 2022 and all the Venezuelan absurdity towards getting everything for our Italian Consulate applications I reached a point of burnout, or rather, the burnout I had forestalled for so long began to seep out of the seal.
I’ve recently come to terms that I need to work on myself, that I need to begin to address my own shortcomings, and bring closure to many, many unaddressed things with me. I’ve spent the past days snapping out of the burnout, and trying to self-repair myself as much as possible, even sleeping more than usual.
It’s baby steps, but I have to do it, because once everything is processed and through, I will be beginning a new chapter of my life, and I better be at the top of my game when that happens, for there is much to do still before I can say that I’ve guaranteed a future for my brother, and that I can begin to fulfill all the promises I’ve made to God, my mother, and to the world.
As such, I wanna touch on this particular burden of mine that has become heavier in recent weeks. I don’t know if survivor’s guilt is perhaps the most appropriate term for this, because I don’t want to diminish the seriousness of it to those that are going through it, but it’s something similar at a basic level.
The country is ‘stable’ at the moment, and compared to the living hell of past years, this feels like paradise. Many have chosen to forget that this is not in fact, the peace many fought and died for, but rather, a malformed status quo brought upon by our politicians — that said, wanting to live with as much normalcy as possible these days is not a crime in its own, and no one should be chastised for doing so.
We’ve simply retreated towards the safety of our bubbles, using the knowledge and experience obtained throughout the past decade to navigate through the eternal inflation, the water woes, the power issues, and the grotesque bureaucracy and lack of rule of law.
Even I am guilty of raising a bubble of my own for my brother and myself, keeping things as stable as possible to forestall the entropy of it all as I bide my time, maintaining a low profile, and waiting for the Italian authorities to process our only way out of the country right now after everything else I tried failed.
But for many in the country, the tragedy of Venezuela’s downfall has not ended, and has only worsened through time. You don’t see it from the safety of your own personal bubble (if you’re among the fortunate to have one), but you see it every day that you go out.
The ruling regime may have spent millions on rehabilitating its image, on rebranding, and easing on the rhetoric, but the ideological goals remain the same. They may have launched campaigns to refresh the image of the capital, but it’s done at the expense of the literal slave labor of less fortunate men and women, who are paid almost nothing to paint and clean the streets of this chaotic city.
The local Communal Council may have passed a ruling to minimize the amount of garbage left outside buildings in the area, but you still see desperate men, women, and even children, scavenging through whatever bags, the only difference is that they’re now located in another part of the street, nothing changed.
People, of all educational backgrounds and professional careers, have fallen into extreme poverty. Yes, there are some optimistic and admirable souls out there, still fighting the good fight for the betterment of the country, but let’s be real, the sheer majority continue to reach the Final Conclusion: leave and don’t look back, even if it means risking your life.
I may be a flawed insane asshole, but I’m not evil and indolent, and I’m not oblivious to the pain and misery of my countrymen.
That is perhaps, what causes me to feel a growing sense of guilt, a guilt derived from the fact that I ‘survived’ the onslaught — not on my own of course, I had plenty of help and that is something I will never forget and I will work towards being able to pay it forward asap, without that help I wouldn’t had been able to pull through and keep my brother safe, that I am certain of.
Before the pandemic, and even during it, I used to feel it here and there. I’d buy an ice cream to share with my brother and I’d feel guilty of doing so, because there’s so many that don’t have anything to eat. I still vividly remember the screams of a desperate man outside this apartment building one night circa 2016, as he yelled for help to have something to feed his daughter with.
Even something as trivial as a sandwich is cause for prayers for me, because I am aware of how out of reach that ‘cheap’ brand cheese I just ate a slice of is for so many.
I’m not exactly living like a king, and as I write this, we’ve gone through days without running water, and neither my brother and I have shaved or showered in days as a result because there is no water for that right now. I may end up ordering something to eat today so that we keep the dishes clean and cook tomorrow instead, and I know I’ll feel guilty over buying food. But this apartment, unfinished and falling apart as it may be, is still a roof that many can’t even begin to hope about having in this country, the same goes for food.
I don’t wanna sound like a melodramatic diva with these words, nor are they intended to harvest online sympathy, but I do feel that kind of guilt over the fact that I have the means to stay afloat, not forward, or backwards, just afloat — and that means a lot in these complicated days that we live in. The sails, and the course towards better lands, are up to me to build and chart.
It’s been an extremely brutal time for many, these past years have been cruel to so many, even to close friends in recent times, now that my life is finally giving me a breather after more than five years and things have begun to go my way towards a better future, that guilt morphs into something else as well, in a ‘why would something good happen to me?’ sensation that I haven’t gotten used to. I also harbor a lot of self-guilt over the fact that I could not save my mom, and every time I wake up after dreaming about her being safe and sound just crushes me from within.
I don’t really know how to tackle this burden out of the many that I still carry on my mind, but I can’t just shrug it off. I promised that one day, when I’m able to, I will pay forward all the help I’ve received, and I won’t rest until I do.
When I leave I may still harbor some form of guilt over the fact that I finally ‘beat’ the unwinnable game of Venezuela through extraordinary means after having failed at all regular avenues for legal migration.
Like I said, I got plenty of unaddressed burdens, and this is one of them.
Thanks for reading all of this, I really appreciate it. I’m slowly getting back on the grind of things, and I’ve got a few things on the pipeline content wise.
Until the next one,