46 minutes ago
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
"I was dancin' with my darlin' to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
I introduced her to my loved one
And while they were dancin'
My friend stole my sweetheart from me" - Roy Acuff -
*Betsy's world came crashing down all around her like so many pieces of shattered glass falling from a mirrored ceiling. No one ever truly believes it when real life imitates art and so it was the case with my friend. One of her clients cancelled at the very last minute so, free from a day of reponsibility she sauntered home to her apartment which happens to be on the floor beneath mine. Her front door leads into a long hallway that despite it's sharp twist actually carries sound pretty well. Almost from the entrance she was able to hear female laughter. Thinking her boyfriend had left the TV on, she took off her heels, put her bag down and went to investigate. The TV was cold and right away she knew. The levity at which she had entered her apartment was gone and in its place was a perfectly formed stone, heavy and weighty in the pit of her stomach.
The bedroom door was unashamedly left ajar and she could see quite plainly two people moving in rhythm on her bed. It was the boyfriend and judging from the unmistakeable cut of the sharp brunette bob, the woman in flagrante delicto was the friend she had shared a room with in college.
So it was somewhere around quarter past three in the afternoon I heard my door bell ring and there stood *Betsy shaking and crying. I held her without words at the same time wondering how our thin sparrow like frames could be of any possible comfort to each other. With little coaxing I was able to guide her into the kitchen where she sat on the comfy overstuffed chair by the window that looks down to the street below. Having spent most of my life in England, the english ways are now mine so it was by automation that I put the kettle on and threw two teabags in the pot. Finally, I asked "What happened honey? What happened to you?"
She relayed the story to me, as I have relayed it here only her voice carried the echo of betrayal that I cannot sum up with paltry words. When my friends are hurt, I feel so helpless. I want to fix everything, make everyone smile again. But over time I have come to realise that patience and stillness are far more comforting attributes in times of crises. So I listened, over and over as she replayed details in the shocked manner of someone in a daze, unwilling to accept the truth as it stands before them.
The maddening thing is, she still loves him. When we have real love for another human being, that love doesn't go anywhere when it is hurt, it doesn't flee into hiding withdrawing the warmth of its flame. It takes time to cultivate love and therefore only time can heal and so we must endure and draw as much wisdom from our experiences as we can. So we spoke of many things that afternoon, *Betsy and I, over endless cups of tea and our conversation carried through to the evening. My understanding husband in that quiet way of his made dinner for all of us and did the washing up, leaving me free to talk to *Betsy all night and into the small hours of the morning.
During the course of that time the boyfriend had sent close to a hundred text messages since she had refused to take any of his calls. I read some, they sounded apologetic and guilty but really, how much sentiment can one convey through sms? It is my guess that he was more sorry at being caught red handed in the act than he was at actually doing the act. This was not one of those situations that he could deny, make up a story for and stick to it come hell or high water until she believed the lie.
So we spoke of many things. Of her love for him and the question of whether to take him back or not. I told her she must take care of her own love first. Care for it and cultivate it and give it direction and allow it to grow organically. A forced love for a person because they are good looking, well connected or in this particular case semi-famous and some of the latter cannot grow harmoniously, instead it remains stunted and stooped under the weight of its own labour. Love might be free but it never was intended to be thrown away I told her and quite clearly this man does not respect the love she has chosen to give him. If he places no value on it, he obviously does not place too high a value on her either. Actions speak louder than words.
*Betsy brought up the point that everyone makes mistakes and if we were all shot down everytime we made one there would not be any people left in the world. True, I said, but what of that small moment directly before the mistake is made? That moment when everything hangs in balance and we are presented with a choice? Surely it is at this precise moment that we make and re-make ourselves on a daily basis. Life is not static, it grows and we grow inside it and so too should our integrity, decency, honour, respect and love for ourselves and each other.
Love is built on faith, without it there is nothing. We must be able to let go of the illusion of control and have faith in the one that we love. Believe that their love for us will not allow them to harm us in any permanent way. Faith and trust are sisters in arms and one cannot exist without the other. So I asked *Betsy to search her heart and ask herself if she could ever truly trust him again now that suspicion has been replaced by proof. She did not answer me directly and neither could she meet my steady gaze.
This leads me to the question: How much is too much?
At what point do we pack up his tired suitcase and throw it out into the street with the rest of the garbage? How much exactly should we take before remembering our own self-worth? For some of us this scenario is an endless nightmare of concentric circles that leads to an even tighter spiral of love/hate, anger and violence. Love is easy enough to get into but hard as hell to get out of especially if we treat love as an investment. My advice to *Betsy: Let go of everything. Give your emotions permission to be free and remind yourself that although you had him, you never owned or controlled his actions. He did what he did and now she must do what she has to do. Unfortunately love does not always make us into better people. Only we can do that for ourselves.