Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More




"I Want Her To Be Happy"

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Yountville, California, USA

June 29, 2019



"Breaking up is hard to do." ... Neil Sedaka

This essay, "I Want Her To Be Happy", was written at the same time as Take A Hold Of That II.

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who contributed material for this conversation.




When he called and said he wanted to talk, I had an open afternoon, so I agreed and invited him over. It turned out he didn't really want to to talk. In talk there's an exchange, a to  and a fro, a back and forth, a give and take. He didn't want that. What he really wanted was to vent. His girlfriend had told him she didn't want to be in a relationship with him anymore. She just wanted out, she with whom he thought he'd be spending the rest of his life (that's gotta hurt, I thought dispassionately).

Ordinarily, simply venting is unacceptable, and I don't stick around for it. I don't stand for it. My time is too valuable, and I would have put a stop to it tout de suite. But in this case, he being a good friend of mine and clearly upset, I listened. And he vented. And I listened. And he vented. And eventually he calmed down (he just wore himself out actually) and we were, for the first time, able to have a conversation about the situation he'd found himself in.

"OK, we can go through all the agony, blow by blow. But let's rather cut to the chase. Let me tell you how this will end" I said as the torrent of words finally abated. "You'll be free when you've forgiven her and let her go, and instead of wanting to be right (even if you are) and instead of making her wrong (even if she is) for what she did, what will work best for you is getting to a place where all you want is for her to be happy. That's what this will look like when it's truly complete for you. And I know that may sound flat-out impossible to you right now. But that's the compass point towards which we're navigating" (or from  which ... if you're a graduate).

"I hear you, ... but (this) ... but (that) ... but (the other) ..." he spluttered (his buts  told me he didn't  hear me), "... she (this) ... she (that) ... she (the other) ..." (all true no doubt) which led to another uninterrupted stream-of-consciousness vent-sentence that continued on for about fifteen minutes before reaching its first comma.

"Stop. I get it" I said as soon as there was a pause in which I could get a syllable in edgewise, "and like I said, that's where this will end, and when it ends, that's what you'll find. It's predictable. But you've got a ways to go before you get there.". If only I could get him there fast, I thought, I would have done him a great service by cutting through all the agony, all the struggle, you know all the sturm und drang  (that's German: "storm and stress") and snot en trane  (that's Afrikaans: "snot and tears"). The truth is "fast" may not be an option in these circumstances (trying to go fast when you're upset can be like trudging through quicksand) but "directly"  is.

We talked often after that (I mean really  talked: his urge to vent had become more circumspect) - sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. And no matter what he came up with, or tried to explain, or wanted to be right about, or made her wrong about, I could tell none of it was doing him any good. And soon he got that too. She was gone and she wasn't coming back, and he was literally burning himself up by analyzing it all. Look: what he was doing to himself by analyzing, was actually hurting him waaay  more than what she did to him by leaving. It took a long time, three years or more actually, until one day he had an entirely new tone in his voice, and a totally different look on his face, a look like an elephant had crawled off his back. "OK what's shifted?" I demanded, "tell me the truth; I want to know everything.".

He took a deep breath. "I love her" he said, "and I want her to be happy.". Man! Oh WOW! That's big, I thought, especially given what had happened. I want you to get he was coming from a place of power  - not from resignation, not from "accepting defeat", not from "making the best of a bad situation". With "I want her to be happy", he'd reclaimed his power from drowning - as it had been in an ocean of circumstances. "BIG Man!" I said as we fist-bumped, nothing else needing to be said.



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