It was the ugliest divorce I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a few. But I couldn’t help my friend right then. I was having a challenging day myself.
I woke up to a power outage, tip-toed over to turn off my electric blanket so that I didn’t forget about it for the rest of the afternoon. I was late to everything all day because my clocks showed different times after the outage.
Then, my internet went down. After seven hours, telling myself to calm down, things like “People have so much more suffering in Syria and Turkey.” Still, I needed the internet for work and everything else! I knew I had to do the dreaded task. I needed to call Comcast, guess it’s called Xfinity now or endlessly expensive into infinity. Anyway, I waddled to the phone in my flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers, reaching India. They instructed me to push buttons (not emotional ones), plug, unplug or wait umpteen days for a technician. Then came the text: “Turn off your modem.” They should add: “and pray!”
It worked! So, I shuffled to the television news; there was a frightening power shut down at a bunch of airports. They interviewed one guy in a backwards baseball cap waiting in a crowded lobby saying, “scary.” Ya’ think? Well, my mind twisted, the crazy possibilities blowing up in my mind. Just one finger on a button somewhere and we could all be kaput.
Speaking of blowing things up, balloons were being shot down while aging boomers were dying and I’m meanwhile being invited to an earthquake preparedness meeting. Stephen Colbert dryly lifted my mood: “Just a reminder: we spend almost 800 billion a year on defense, and we used it to pop a balloon.”
The heat was back on and the computer trick actually worked. I was ready to relax but my girlfriend called again. I groped for wisdom. “Conflict can be ugly.” It wasn’t my most enlightened day: “Can they try to hear each other with a counselor?” She shrieked, “Impossible!”
Finally, in bed, grateful to wear my big striped warm socks with the bobbing balls hanging on them, I swooned. Snug in my electric blanket, I felt lucky, but sighed in the cold night, knowing so many animals and people were out there suffering.
In just one afternoon life could be convoluted, a macabre combination of the good, the bad, and the ugly. They should bring back Mad Magazine.
Still feeling ragged, I turned over and noticed a forgotten book on my shelf: On Writing Well, by Zinsser. I opened the pages to find him so witty and weird that I gurgled giggles. My mood shifted from somber to jolly. He wrote so well – about how to write well! One of his stories was about how young Allen Ginsberg went to his psychiatrist despairing about his career. He asked him what he wanted to do. Embarrassed, Ginsberg uttered, “I want to be a poet for a living.” His therapist whispered, “Why not?” I roared. Just imagine if the counselor had told Ginsberg to become a dentist?
Back to the divorce. They found a good therapist and compromises happened. As the world turns, the ups and downs never end.
Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the Bay Area for over 35 years. Author, The Power of Being Heard. ConversationswithKaty.com. 707.548.8982