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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"snot and tears").
is "fast" may not be an option in these
(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
a look like an
had crawled off his back. "OK what's shifted?" I demanded, "tell me
I want to know everything.".
He took a deep breath.
"I love her"
he said, "and I want her to be
Man! Oh WOW! That's
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
he'd reclaimed his power from drowning - as it had been in an ocean of
I said as we fist-bumped, nothing else needing to be said.