Tag Archives: Grief

Mary’s Story Part III: The Text Files

Another aspect that struck me at the party was that Mary was clutching and checking her phone with a dead serious urgency, as if one of her children was taken hostage and she was waiting for the ransom text. What she was really doing was avoiding being at the party in the environment of other seemingly happy families. She was escaping to somewhere else, constantly looking for some validation from her social networks. Maybe she was thinking, “My husband should not have left me, we should have been here all together like the other ‘normal’ families.”

I have been there myself. She feels embarrassed ashamed and lonely. Interestingly enough, the only ‘complete’ family that was present at the party was that of a birthday boy. The rest of the guests were accompanied by only one parent, a mother or a father, whichever was the case. So why was she the one feeling awkward? Because she was not there alone by her choice! Because she was hurt and was blaming her ex for her discomfort. The remedy she was using to alleviate some of this pain was her precious phone – her outside online connections. They could have been anything from a pleasant and fun distraction, to flirting, to even an on line text/chat date, or, if she really wanted to be a bad girl, a sext for all we know! What she craves and what she gets is a stream of constant attention in the form of the messages, texts, winks, compliments and come-ons from various online dating and social sites.

Going through this stage, one can get addicted to such an escape. An easy way to test if you are already addicted in this fashion or not, is to try to see if you would feel at ease turning your phone off for just an hour on a casual weekend. Try this and you will know.

Eventually, she will distance herself from the pain she feels, and will start to let it go. Once she starts to feel at ease with her single status and freedom, she will be on her way to the adventures of her life. After all, that dull married life she described, with one date a year on their anniversary, does not by any means sound exciting. Then she could let herself feel the seduction of a new romance, lust, the excitement and passion of a first kiss. Get carried away, meet new people, explore new interests. The important thing, I think, (Mary of course might disagree with me) is to not aim or recreate the same boring, abusive, or neglectful relationship she just got out of. There is no way back; we can only go forward.

Regardless of how open-minded or adventuresome Mary is, she is looking for that special someone who will give her what she thinks she needs. She is, ultimately, looking to heal her self image, her hurt ego. She is looking for love and companionship (and perhaps also to add another nail to her ex’s coffin). By the way, never go for an affair or a relationship because you just want revenge – you simply will not enjoy it.

What is important? I hope she understands that the new man or her new circle of friends should love her for who she is and should make her happy. She must be able to choose the real person who will make her happy, and not chase the mirage of a new prince charming, who will be on an even bigger and whiter horse. Is she really ready and in the right state of mind to find her perfect match? Would she recognize him once she meets him?

She impressed me as a smart cookie. I hope she will figure it all out in time.

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An Intriguing New Friend: Mary’s Story (Part I)

I met a woman yesterday at a kid’s birthday party. I’ll call her Mary. Mary came in with two beautiful daughters, who were seven and three years old. She impressed me as a tall, shapely, attractive woman, wearing a sexy opened dress, but with a slightly sad and disconnected expression. I immediately separated her from the others, because she did not have that peaceful look of the mother-hen spending a pleasant afternoon sitting out at a kid’s party. Her rather reveling dress and constant clutching and typing on her phone were dead giveaways. She must be having an affair, I thought.

After the party was over, it came as a nice surprise that the very woman I was so intrigued by happened to need a ride home with her girls and just happened to live in my neighborhood. I gladly offered to get her home, and asked how she got to the party in the first place, since it was quite a far shot from our hood. She declared, “My ex husband drove us here, but he would not take us back.”

As soon as we settled into the privacy of my car she literally spilled out her story. She went right into an unprompted monologue. “I am divorced, you know!” In her voice I felt the urgency; she needed to share, to get a shot of relief, support, and validation in my eyes.

Her tone reminded me of a confession at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, very a matter of fact, somber, and regretful, as she continued with no interruptions:

“He had an affair. This was three years ago. Imagine, he left me only four months after I gave birth to our second child. I was in a very vulnerable state. I gained a massive amount of weigh. I was 200 pounds, bloated from the childbirth. I had just returned to work then, and I was really stressed, still breast-feeding my daughter and even my best friend’s son (his mother did not have any milk). I was breast feeding at home and pumping at work. Then, he just walked in one day and said he did not love me anymore, did not want to live with me, so he packed his bag and left.

I was devastated, at first, as I tried to understand what happened. What have I done wrong?”

At this point, I felt a chill going down my spine as I remembered this time in my own life… after the birth of my first child. Moving around in a daze without sleep, pumping at work, driving home in mad traffic – it was hell! This became merged with the stress of a separate instance in my life, some years later, when my husband declared that his life did not turn out as he envisioned, it was all my fault and as a result, he HATED me! My heart was going out to her.

She continued:

“Later, in a few months, I got a glimpse of a text message on his phone and I finally pieced it all together – he left me for a woman working in his office. The office, that I worked so hard to help him get off the ground, and the very woman whom, ironically, I myself helped to hire. He is a such-n-such-professional, and the other woman clearly only wanted him to get the partnership in the business. I myself was, at one time, going to go for a graduate degree, even passed the prerequisite exam, but he discouraged me! He said, ‘We do not need two professionals in one family.’

“Now, he owes me everything! Of course, I am ok now, just a few months after he left, I was already in a relationship. I have friends, my life is better now. I have a lot of options now. I can go on vacations with kids and without kids. When we were married everything was monotonous, dull and only about the children. We went out on a date only once a year for our anniversary.

“His affair ended, by the way. She threw him out. He crawled back to us after two years.¬†Statistically, affairs last two years on the average, (she looked at me convincingly and divulged knowingly.)¬†He wanted to try to get back together ‘for the sake of the family,’ and even moved back into our apartment. It lasted a week, then I kicked him out! The damage was already done with the kids and in my heart when he left. By then we had become strangers. Not only was I not at all attracted to him, I could not even stand him in the house. Now, he lives alone; he rents his own apartment three blocks away. Now he realizes that no one really needs him and he is bored and unrequited. Now, he is all about children and family. I kept all the friends, they were all on my side (she said this with especial personal pride) and he is all alone!

“It has been three years and, get this, we have not finalized our divorce yet. But it is really over of course. He is just scared to pay out a big chunk for my portion in the business, so he is just dragging it along. It is ok I guess,” she concluded. “He pays me sufficiently now and he is really helping me out big time.”

She finished with a reassuring crescendo. Who was she trying to convince? Me? Herself?

As she laid it all out, she seemed to be almost on an autopilot. She has probably told this same story before so many times, to friends, neighbors and even perfect strangers willing to listen.

Why is she doing this, you ask?

She thinks everyone can see her problem, and she feels a compulsion to defend herself from their “judgment.”

She thinks it is her mission to convince all others that she she is really 100% right, and that he (her ungrateful, cheating, monster of an ex) is 100% to blame. And from the first glance, and according to the canons of the marital laws, it would certainly seem so. If we try to look deeper, no one knows the whole story, except maybe their therapist. In a family break up, and even a betrayal, there is no right and wrong – no winners and losers – there is just a story of two people and their lives. Somewhere they lost it, perhaps got lost themselves – this is life. No use crying over spilled milk.

You will say, “Well, this woman has told you exactly that – she is fine! She is better off now!” Yes, but I did not ask, and did not need to hear the gory details in order to support and accept her. She does not have to defend herself or hide behind a tower of her story which seemingly protects her while it keeps her hostage. I want her to free herself from her own judgment.