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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A letter from your wife or girlfriend...

I received an email from an angry wife (or girlfriend, I'm not sure which she is) on Christmas Eve, trying to God shame me for being, what she perceived to be, a "serpent" in a "God loving woman's" disguise. She went on to attack my integrity, intelligence and character, outlined explicitly what she thought I did for a living and then she took a giant leap to the conclusion that I question the choices I make everyday and lose sleep over it.

So many thoughts went through my mind as I read this. I have never responded to any of the few (literally, 2 or 3) emails I've ever received from a friend's significant other. Not because I don't have anything to say to them, I have plenty. Mostly I don't respond because I figure nothing good will come out of it, so why bother? I'm sure I'm not going to convince them of anything. I won't be changing their minds or helping their situation in any way by responding. He's been caught and likely he knows about it and is dealing with it, as he should. It's none of my business. I don't respond out of respect for my clients, my friends, who I think would appreciate my staying out of their personal lives completely and I agree.

This time I read something different in her note and I saw an opportunity to say something in my defense because I didn't agree with her assessment of who I am or what I represent on my website that she had mentioned she looked at, and my blog she said she had read. She sort of was paying me a back handed compliment in saying that my website and blog portrayed a woman who was appealing with beauty, brains and sensitivity, but that it was all somehow incompatible with being paid for services. Her disgust and shame for the business side of things had her making all kinds of false assumptions. She didn't see that someone could put both of these dynamics together. She was attacking me personally and this wasn't about "stay away from my man", this was her passing judgement on me, someone she didn't know, and I wanted her to have a better idea of not only who I really am, who she was talking to, but I was hopeful that underneath her obvious pain, and on this holiday eve, perhaps I could be of help to her in some way. I think that the God references were what really put me over the edge. I wanted to be clear that I did not represent myself as the "God loving woman" she thought I did, as someone who connected themselves to the Bible and Christianity - I didn't know where that came from and it bugged me. That needed to be cleared up.

I responded to her letting her know that I appreciated her attention to my site, but that I disagreed with her assessment and let her know that she didn't really know what the fuck she was talking about. Okay, a little harsh, but I was tired when I wrote it.

There were a few more emails back and forth. We both said what was on our mind. She let me know what a horrible person she thought I was and threatened me with legal action. She asked me not to respond. But she also asked questions...in between the lines she was wanting information. Questions about moving forward from here for her in her relationship that I thought deserved an answer. So I wrote back...it was Christmas Day. It was bothering me that this was bothering her and taking her away from enjoying her family on this holiday. I wanted to let her know that I was no threat to her relationship, that I never was. That her anger and upset were misdirected and that she should be working on her relationship with her husband, the person she had expectations of and an agreement with, not me. She wrote back something about keeping my dime store psychology to myself with a couple of expletives thrown in.

I let her know that I was hopeful that by writing to her she might take the opportunity to ask questions and get answers in a respectful conversation with me. That perhaps I could shed some light for her, if she truly wanted to better understand. I told her that I understood that she was angry and hurt and that I now realized that attacking me was apparently all she really wanted - to unload. I get it. I addressed the likely outcome for him, his employer, his family, his children and her if she were to pursue legal action so that she could hopefully see the whole picture and the reality of how that wasn't going to have the affect she was hoping for. I closed by saying that I would not be responding again and that I wished her the best and I meant it.

The next day I received another letter from her. I wasn't looking forward to opening it up because they had all been so unpleasant and closed minded. She really had been blaming me for breaking up her family and ruining the lives of many, not just hers. I contemplated deleting it without reading it at all. But then I thought, what the hell? I'll just open in up and skim through it before I delete it. It was clear to me thus far that nothing I was saying to her was getting through and I felt a little defeated. I really did have good intentions that I could be of some sort of help to her, ease her mind a little. Just woman to woman, reaching out, helping her to help herself in a purely respectful, empathetic way.

I carefully open that last email. I began reading what was a completely honest, totally respectful, and a genuinely heartfelt letter. She admitted she was not really going to pursue legal action, that she understood from a cognitive place what the relationship is between husbands and affairs like these and that she didn't want to hurt anyone, she was the one hurting. She said she had known for a long time and been "living with it", trying to deal with it, that there were many, not just me, and she admitted it was not my fault. She also went on to say that she was really intrigued by how elaborate some of the websites are for some of the girls and that she had a fine holiday with her family after all. She was concerned for her health and she asked why? What was she doing or not doing to make him seek other women? Whew!

This was a breakthrough - for both of us. I wondered if this had ever happened before anywhere else but in TV dramas or fictional writings? Surely it must have... I wrote back a final note, thanking her and letting her know that speaking for myself, I had just recently been tested for everything under the sun and everything was all clear. I went on to talk about how careful most are and how professional, level-headed and business minded I found most of the women to be. I told her that while I wasn't exactly sure who we were talking about, I offered my two cents worth of philosophy on why some men see other women secretly and pay for it. I offered her some suggested reading material that I thought might be helpful in understanding not only how men and women find relationships like this to make sense for them, but also information for herself to use as she likes - to better understand how men think and to empower herself to get whatever it is that she wants for herself. It was reading that had been helpful to me and I hoped she might find something useful for herself.

I know I have choices. I make them everyday after carefully considering all of the information available to me. I usually don't question them after I make them, but if I do, I make sure there's room for me to be flexible in them. Like, if a choice I made no longer works for me, I choose something else. I don't lose any sleep over it.

My heart goes out to women who feel powerless, are struggling or hurting. I want them to know that they have choices too, that there may be some information out there that they hadn't considered, and that they can create whatever it is that they imagine to be possible for themselves. I believe that.

Whether I hear from her or not again isn't up to me. My hope is that I was able to, in some way, be of help to someone. That two women - two unlikely strangers - were able to reach out to each other and share themselves. That they are now both better able to understand each other and can talk about the things that they've been conditioned to believe divided them. It was just one conversation with just two women...imagine, if we could all just talk peacefully, respectfully and openly with each other.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Perspective

It's almost Christmas and I'm hyper aware of all the stress people have around me. I want to share with them how unimportant some of the stress triggers really are to the people who love them.

I understand wanting to be generous and gift the things they think will make their loved ones happy and I understand that for some of us, it's a blow to our self image and ego to have been able to do so much Christmases past but less this year. It's nice to be able to wrap something up that is thoughtful and appreciated. I get it. But it's not as important as they think and it's probably not expected of them by anyone else but themselves. It's a lot of unnecessary pressure to put on ourselves.

I'm trying to remember what I got last year and the year before. I can remember some, but not all and while I appreciated it all, what I remember most - what I remember fondly - is the time I spent with the people I love and the laughter we shared. I am reminded how thankful I am that we didn't lose anyone close to us, that we all have our health and each other. That anything is still possible for all of us and that we all have everything we need and most of what we want.

I'll be happy to just have everyone home for breakfast together on Christmas morning. The dog begging for bacon, some Irish Coffee to share and maybe a movie followed by an afternoon nap before visiting family later in the evening. I wouldn't miss the wrapping paper and boxes with tissue messes to clean up, the credit card bills next month or the inconvenience of having to return things that didn't fit or weren't quite right. I'd feel better knowing that they didn't spend money they couldn't afford on wrapping something up out of obligation or for fear of looking bad. I want them to know that I wouldn't love them any less. Their health and happiness is all I really want for Christmas and all throughout the year.

This isn't the last Christmas - it's just one Christmas. I don't feel pressured to meet any unreasonable expectation of myself or that I think someone else may have of me. I want to enjoy the season, the beautiful decorations, the gatherings of friends and loved ones and the hope we share for the New Year. I wish I could wrap up that kind of peace. I'd give it to everyone.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!