Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Wise Friend,

I can’t find the words to describe what’s going on within me.

I tried telling select details to people close to me. Yes! Only “select details”, and I wish they understand all of them.

While I talk, I hear myself, and I can’t find the words to describe accurately as if I don’t want to give it all away. Yes, I try to be reasonable and avoid being dramatic. I want to be decent, not to overwhelm them, and not to impose on them.

I want them to support me, and not to drive me nuts either.

I drown, and words might pull me out. Where are the words?

Lovely Friend,

We pain for different reasons. I won’t be ever able to know precisely your pain. How could I? Nevertheless, I break down for you. Empathy is never accurate.

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“Not To Be Reproduced” by Rene Magritte, 1937

Our hidden unhealed pains surprise us when the suffering of others moves us to tears. Maybe we cry for ourselves.

Wise Friend.

I have a highly educated friend working in garden maintenance.  He asked me to join him for two weeks. I wanted to do some physical work. I accepted.

We joke with quizzing customers about both us having masters and somehow having become blue-collar workers.

Wow Friend,

How do you cope with the physical work?

Wise Friend,

Gosh! It is hot and hard! At the end of each day, I’m tired and euphoric, intoxicated with feeling great. I love being outside, and I love hard physical work.

Wow Friend,

Shall I envy you?

Wise Friend,

Yes, please do!

We chitchat a lot. My friend mentioned that one little conversation back at home becomes the obsession for a man if he works alone and nobody distracts him. This is the risk of men doing manual work by themselves. He returns home emotionally worked up. Sensitive to extreme he demands assurance to rebuild his trust. The wife resents it.

I attended a book club today. Mainly women. I repeated to them what he told me. You should have heard them. This is what they said:

“Women are extremely good at making an elephant out of a fly inside their heads.”

“It’s a myth that women don’t obsess on small comments and gestures.”

“They speak with all their girlfriends, and they expect full support for the ‘seriousness’ of the issue. If the friend tried to shake them up, to check their priorities, the anger would be endless.”

“Back home, she lashes out emotionally.”

I was speechless. Did you know that? How clueless am I?

Wow Friend,

Somehow, yes. How is it in your home?

Wis Friend,

Sometimes, we both lash out. We take turns. Probably, it depends on who obsessed that very day. You don’t want to be a witness. Thank God, we love each other.

Wise Friend,

I’m looking back at conversations, emails, and turmoils people shared. So much pain due to broken trust.

I elevate trust about love. What’s love without trust?

Good Friend,

It’s NOTHING. No trust, no love.

Wise Friend,

My heart and soul are healing I think, but it’s very slow. I found out that Michael has had another woman for a long time (don’t know how long) and my kids have known too. Lana was sworn to secrecy. Alex made the judgement–wrong in my opinion–to not tell me because he thought I was under enough stress. I’m still recovering from the duplicity and humiliation of it.

Lovely Friend,

I can imagine how you and Lana feel. And I’m sure that Michael is smiling along and sees it as nothing or as life. “You, those within my close family around me, take on all my rubbish because I know how to smile.”
I’m sure that he plays down Lana’s feelings, would she try to talk with him.

Wise Friend,

I don’t think she tries to talk to him. She rather tries to be grown up and cool about it all. It’s with me that she shows all her emotions and contradictions and anxieties. Some recent comments: “I’ve lost my father, I can’t lose another parent. I hate the fact that I wasn’t given a choice of whether to like Beth (the new woman). I just had her presented to me, and it was assumed I had to like her. I hate the way she just assumes I’ll be coming to the wedding and doesn’t understand why it’s so hard.”

Lovely Friend,

He seems to think, “The experience is going to toughen you, kid. I’m too weak to plan it differently to spare you the pain.”

Wise Friend,

He might think “They are my children, and I’m polite to invite them to my wedding.” They have to learn how to socialise, and they have to learn that and that.

Lovely Friend,

This just shows he didn’t change. How out of touch he is with those closest to him. He has no idea how to sacrifice some social requirements for the wholeness of Lana’s emotions. Though, which ones?

Wise Friend,

It’s a bit like some many things happening around the world. If you deny that something specific exists, then there’s no related consequential problem, is there? So, if he denies that any of this is a problem, then he doesn’t have to cater to the complexities. I’m so tempted to see a teenage counsellor, but no. It’ s hard, opening the wounds again (not that they were ever really closed)

Lovely Friend,

When my son was a teen, the primary drive was my love for him and the correctness of the situation. Until they are 18, you are not supposed to let them take all their decisions. They need your protection much of the time, and they don’t always know how to protect themselves.

You might not look cool, and you might bring on another crisis with Michael. Lana doesn’t want to create any waves. She would feel guilty. Parents re-marrying messes up children as young as Lana.

Deep down they didn’t solve the issues of their parents’ separation. Deep down they still hope for reconciliation. Look at TV shows and movies exploiting these feelings depicting parents getting back together. Only adult children, not even all, can take re-marrying easily.

If you feel that this is a betrayal, I promise you they know that. I don’t think their decision not to tell you is an act of betrayal or duplicity. It’s a tough decision between protecting you and delivering the hurtful message to you. A lose-lose situation, any one of us (including yourself) has found oneself in. Not only once. Children of divorced parents have no way out of many such incidents.

Lana is still a child. She must be shown consideration and basic care and willingness to deal with her. I’m not ignoring Alex here, but Alex is at an age where he has to put up with rubbish. He might choose not to. In a way even Lana has to. All kids of all age have to put up with conflicts. Sometimes, we must protect them, though it would be not healthy for them to protect them each time.

Wise Friend,

Yeah, I think Lana wants me to give her kind of moral permission to attend the wedding. I can’t do this in an honest way, because I think that Michael has behaved atrociously through all of this. Attending the wedding means accepting all the rubbish has passed. I don’t know how to do what she wants and still be true to myself. The counsellor, I am going to, says that I only began to progress through all this dirt when I started to be honest about my own feelings. E.g. by telling Michael not to come here any more and cutting off all contact with him. This really hurt Lana, but it’s the only way I can function – with him completely out of my life.
God, I want to have a day when the thought of him does not cloud my mind.

On the personal level, Michael’s wedding invitations are out and apparently, Lana and Alex are going to be invited. Lana is torn in half. Alex, I don’t know. I feel like a dog that has been whipped and now is having its head kicked in. I’m supposed to allow them to make their own choices; I imagine that’s what all the good books say. Why then does it feel like such a betrayal if they attend? Lana said ‘other kids have their parents break up and they are happy with the remarriage’ or ‘break-ups are painful for everyone.’ I wish it would all just go away.

Lovely Friend,

It’s painful, and you have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of them. What a cliché, I’ve just written!. Yet, you’re the adult and sometimes, you need to bite your pain and do what is right for Lana and even for Alex. About Michael coming to your place, tell Lana you have a right to privacy and to your home. That, she needs to swallow.

Lovely Friend,

Your ache is your way to doubt yourself and still attack yourself; knowing that aches me. Right now and for a while you’ll continue to be unfair to yourself, but this is such a complicated pattern to break.

OK, OK, you still want to turn this pain on its many sides. I promise you it will go away.

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You seem to refer a lot to the physical part of you: to your looks and weight. I can only tell myself you have an unusual sweet smile. Your voice! Your voice is so pleasant one can drown in it. You are caring, intelligent, giving, with a great sense of humour. You brought so much to my life and to many others who crossed your path. Consider your children and your relationship with them.

Michael didn’t appreciate these in you, and he never had the skills to lavish himself in this generosity. You were the best thing that happened to him, and he didn’t know how to handle it, so he chipped at you and proceeded to destroy you. I know you know all that and the pain drags you down.

Each one of us, man or woman, has deep needs one wants the other to fulfil them, even without being aware. It goes both ways, though in many marriages or liaisons, one may give, while the other not.

I don’t understand why partners, who don’t give, destroy. But right now, each time you feel the pain you are hurting yourself. This is tough to unlearn.

Wise Friend,

If I hang my head in shame, what will you think?

Lovely Friend,

I was sure you’ve concocted enough shame. I didn’t imagine there is more room. It seems the container is made of live skin, and it expands.

Take a little plastic bowl and for each shame and anger drop a small pebble inside.

I will continue and risk repeating myself. The way you use the English makes it a song in itself. I always wanted to hear more and more of it. When you called the Offen(s), they both remarked the voice, and they mentioned that. Lana inherited hers from you.

Wise Friend,

This is such a beautiful letter like an arm around me offering love.

By the way, I love getting little musings notes from you. There is so much nice energy, despite your addiction to Latin and “mea culpa.”

In one note you wrote, “Despite his perfect words, Elvis was a bastard.” I like this. Why didn’t I think of this? I would have written “in spite of” instead of “despite”. What’s the difference? It’s “in spite of” and there’s no difference in meaning or use, I suspect. I find “despite” neater.

Going to bed now; I send you my best thoughts and loving fond wishes.

Lovely Friend,

Latin and “Mea culpa”?


(image “Glass Tears” by Man Ray 1932)

Wise Friend,

Years ago, I attended an evening with an author. I’ve found the notes I took. I didn’t write the author’s name.

Sensitive Friend,

So unlike you!

Wise Friend,

Yep. I looked up the quotes or expressions he used, and I found none. Why did I go? Was I interested in his books? No. So why? I tend to check things out.

His father was black, his mother Jewish. He talked with the usual American accent of a person who read and studied a lot.

When he read from his books he used a fast black accent.

I looked at him in amazement–I hardly understood him–wondering if his thoughts changed when using that accent. Were his passion and anger more intense when writing with that accent? It fascinated me. Am I permitted?

Sensitive Friend,

I do the same, and therefore you have my permission.

Wise Friend,

Later he answered questions from the interviewer and from the audience.

I enjoyed his answers: “Writing is a dream. You have to dream every day, and you keep on writing from 30 minutes to…10 hours. You have to know how to put yourself in that state of dreaming. Like meditating.”

Sensitive Friend,

I like that. He is correct the dream state allows you to flow.

Wise Friend,

He quoted a poet who said: “If a poem comes I catch it”. What a lovely expression!

He talked about the importance of dialogue in books, “All the writers write and scrutinise the world. The trick is to do this and to entertain the reader.”

Sensitive Friend,

Scrutinising is valuable to oneself and others only if one is wise.

Wise Friend,

The readers must be wise, too.

Somebody asked him, “How do you keep an edge?”

“Tell the truth once a day and your life will go in the direction you want.”

Hmmm!  Idealistic or am I getting too cynical, after 20 years doing business?

Sensitive Friend,

He is one writer whose truth many will allow and cherish.

What is more important than truth, the social skills to tell it well, choose your moments, and to decide when to throw all prudence to the winds and say it, anyway?

Wise Friend,

I went to a community dinner. I didn’t like the surroundings. I joined, hoping to interact with people from that city.

In the beginning, I chose a table and sat next to Myra, a lawyer formerly from Mexico City, a lovely lady with a great sense of humour.

Later, Pat and her two daughters joined our table. There was something so humble about her. She mentioned somebody had invited there and she didn’t know people around the room.

I told myself she must have been a single mother and probably that someone invited her for being relatively poor.

Sweet Friend,

I wonder why?

Wise Friend,

I asked Pat if she was working. “I wish I would. However, I’m on a sabbatical after fifteen years working on community committees. I wonder if this isn’t a waste of my degree.”

I replied that it was a fantastic idea, muttering something about being able to afford the break concerning putting bread on the table.

Pat said her husband had been very generous since the children were born.
“Hmmm!!!,” I thought. So Pat wasn’t poor!

Sweet Friend,

Funny, isn’t it?

Wise Friend,

Myra, the lawyer, moved her seat closer and asked Pat from where she knew her. Pat mentioned her full name and Myra seemed satisfied with the answer. I was clueless.

Three of us chatted about children, dyslexia and schools.

Pat left. I told Myra that initially, I had thought Pat was a poor single mother. Myra laughed and said that Pat was the wealthiest woman in the city (I’m not sure if in that community only or, in the city at large). Pat’s husband did not support her financially, as she was wealthy herself coming from an extremely wealthy family.

Myra knew Pat from the media, as Pat frequently had appeared in newspapers and on TV organising this or that event, donating vast amounts of money to this or that charity.

Sweet Friend,

Wow!!! How far from your initial assumptions!

Wise Friend,

Wow, indeed! My dearest son has been begging forever not to make any assumptions. Each time I think back to that evening I smile and my son comes to mind.

I reflect on my experience with these communities. As I travel, I found a way to join events of local communities. I met many comfortable, wealthy women in Sydney, Beverly Hills, Houston, NYC, and elsewhere. Many times, I heard wealthy women dress ostentatiously, wearing glittering fabrics and jewels. I never witnessed that.

I visited beautiful homes and met elegant women, but nothing glittery as such. Clothing-wise, I noticed modesty and elegance. Sometimes, though rarely, some dress in bad looking and or cheap clothing. Maybe some great jewellery though not excessive. ,

Even at evening events women rarely expose their backs, wear extremely short hems or low-cut dresses/blouses.

Now, I’m wondering about these comments about wealthy women, both from the outside and inside the communities as such.

Sweet Friend,

You are very observant about life. Reading your emails is like watching a movie.