Growing Up?

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.

Ah, synchronicity. My email folders were so full that I wasn’t allowed to send another message until I cleaned out the old stuff. So what should I find in a massive deletion  of ancient  emails  but  an exchange  with  the post- divorce counselor whose session notes I found last night while looking for tax data.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

It was an email from a couple of days after our not- so-good session. He advised me that I was free to go get laid now, and I should be doing that as much as possible and  having  as  many  sexual relationships   as  possible. That’s what he did and what he advocated. I protested. I wasn’t looking  for a revolving door to my bedroom.  I can’t be like him, flitting from guy to guy with no emotional attachment. Sometimes I wish I could, but if I hold my breath for a little while, I come to my senses and the wish goes away.

The final exchange was a comment that bordered on hateful in tone, and it’s what ended my relationship with him as my counselor. He  was having a bad day, but he should not have aimed it at me. I got the feeling that he wasn’t talking to me but to the lover he’d just cheated on and admitted to me that he’d cheated on and given me lots of great reasons why it was okay. (Who was counseling whom??? I paid for his time.)

His parting  words  of advice?  That I should  just go find a man, any man, because the next one might be the one who’d make me grow up.

Hmmm. So promiscuity is the catalyst for growth?

I run into Bob in the parking lot again and we chat. He mentions how far behind he is at work and all the paperwork he’s had to take  home  to work on in the evenings. He’s been to one social function and he just hated people dragging him out to parties to make him feel bet- ter. He’s not ready for that. I ask why he wasn’t at the office awards banquet  on Saturday night and he shrugs it off and tells me that he often goes to bed early on week- end nights rather than brood. But it’s okay because he’s over his ex.

So  whether  the  newest  evidence  is  from  official sources or eyewitness accounts or even direct from him, what’s “real” changes.  Rather than ask directly what the truth is, people try to put together the puzzle pieces-and some pieces are from someone else’s puzzle and only appear to fit.

A month passes. My lunchmate calls me to her desk. She’s got  news. Bob’s divorce finally showed up in the newspaper’s public records  section. See? Evidence. The picture  is  clearer  to  both  of  us  now,  as  far  as  what’s “real.”

As I’m leaving the building after hours, I stumble over Bob sitting on a bench in front of my building and staring at the sunset. We talk about his wife and how he’s over her. My instincts say it isn’t true, but he repeatedly denies it and says he’s moved  on. I’ve asked the question  directly, asked it of the source.  The source has provided evidence of a particular reality that doesn’t match my in- tuition, but I can’t prove my intuition.

As I start to walk away, Bob collapses into deep, heaving sobs. No matter what he says or what the physical evidence says, he’s not over her. What’s “real” isn’t about what can  be confirmed  scientifically.  The  only proof  I had of what I suspected was deep in my intuition.

We live with far more illusions that we realize. The only thing that’s real is how we feel inside.