She was a role model for the young girls growing up in my household, the girl who was a prince to other girls and boys alike. I was surprised to find her an object of study, whole courses devoted to the genre, and that there were Utena episodes that were not in general circulation most probably because they included overtly lesbian themes and behaviors. This was the early 2000’s.
I am not much of a television watcher. In fact, I was unsure of how to turn my t.v. on for many years, which remote and the sequence of buttons to click, but was never motivated enough to learn. That was until “True Detectives” with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey on HBO last year. Now, Showtime is previewing a series entitled The Affair, which promises to feature an honest, slightly empathetic or at least justified look at the complicated and much maligned subject of marriage and cheating. As enticingly introduced in Cara Buckley’s write up on September 3rd in the New York Times (thanks to Frank Jelnicky for passing this on to me), “Imagine an extra marital love affair in which neither party can be blamed.” Cognizant of the touchiness of the subject, the Israeli writer Hagai Levi notes the challenge of writing something compelling and engaging, serious, without elicited “knee-jerk audience disapproval.” In addition to the promised feature of the landscape of beaches along Long Island, I am looking forward to seeing how the writer and producer’s efforts achieve that challenging goal in their measured choice in casting and intimate, dicey subject matter.
I guess it is time to take lessons in television operations.
“Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.” — Harry Browne
During the darkest part of the night, who do you blame?
Do you know who Mr. Browne is? According to Wikipedia, Harry Browne (1933 – 2006) was a free-market libertarian writer and investment analyst who was the Presidential candidate of the United States Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000. He was also Director of the American Liberty Foundation.
I don’t know what these characteristics translate into or even the kind of person Harry Browne was. I did, however, come across this letter he wrote at Christmas to his then nine-year old daughter. The letter was dated December 25, 1966.
I have shared Harry’s letter over the years with circles of friends and family. The responses have varied. Some have whole-heartedly agreed with Harry, yet some reacted with defensiveness, even contempt, not only for Mr. Browne, but toward me for sharing. Some felt the letter was cynical, harsh, even cruel. There were also those who thought that Harry’s words to his daughter offered them a new perspective on life.
For me, the letter was a great reminder of the expectations we attach to people, outcomes and situations, and the potential blame we assign when we don’t receive what we have desired.
Who is responsible for life’s outcomes? Who is responsible for our experiences?
Harry’s letter to his daughter:
It’s Christmas and I have the usual problem of deciding what to give you. I know you might enjoy many things — books, games, clothes.
But I’m very selfish. I want to give you something that will stay with you for more than a few months or years. I want to give you a gift that might remind you of me every Christmas.
If I could give you just one thing, I’d want it to be a simple truth that took me many years to learn. If you learn it now, it may enrich your life in hundreds of ways. And it may prevent you from facing many problems that have hurt people who have never learned it.
The truth is simply this: No one owes you anything.
How could such a simple statement be important? It may not seem so, but understanding it can bless your entire life.
No one owes you anything.
It means that no one else is living for you, my child. Because no one is you. Each person is living for himself; his own happiness is all he can ever personally feel.
When you realize that no one owes you happiness or anything else, you’ll be freed from expecting what isn’t likely to be.
It means no one has to love you. If someone loves you, it’s because there’s something special about you that gives him happiness. Find out what that something special is and try to make it stronger in you, so that you’ll be loved even more.
When people do things for you, it’s because they want to — because you, in some way, give them something meaningful that makes them want to please you, not because anyone owes you anything.
No one has to like you. If your friends want to be with you, it’s not out of duty. Find out what makes others happy so they’ll want to be near you.
No one has to respect you. Some people may even be unkind to you. But once you realize that people don’t have to be good to you, and may not be good to you, you’ll learn to avoid those who would harm you. For you don’t owe them anything either.
Living your Life
No one owes you anything.
You owe it to yourself to be the best person possible. Because if you are, others will want to be with you, want to provide you with the things you want in exchange for what you’re giving to them.
Some people will choose not to be with you for reasons that have nothing to do with you. When that happens, look elsewhere for the relationships you want. Don’t make someone else’s problem your problem.
Once you learn that you must earn the love and respect of others, you’ll never expect the impossible and you won’t be disappointed. Others don’t have to share their property with you, nor their feelings or thoughts.
If they do, it’s because you’ve earned these things. And you have every reason to be proud of the love you receive, your friends’ respect, the property you’ve earned. But don’t ever take them for granted. If you do, you could lose them. They’re not yours by right; you must always earn them.
A great burden was lifted from my shoulders the day I realized that no one owes me anything. For so long as I’d thought there were things I was entitled to, I’d been wearing myself out —physically and emotionally — trying to collect them.
No one owes me moral conduct, respect, friendship, love, courtesy, or intelligence. And once I recognized that, all my relationships became far more satisfying. I’ve focused on being with people who want to do the things I want them to do.
That understanding has served me well with friends, business associates, lovers, sales prospects, and strangers. It constantly reminds me that I can get what I want only if I can enter the other person’s world. I must try to understand how he thinks, what he believes to be important, what he wants. Only then can I appeal to someone in ways that will bring me what I want.
And only then can I tell whether I really want to be involved with someone. And I can save the important relationships for those with whom I have the most in common.
It’s not easy to sum up in a few words what has taken me years to learn. But maybe if you re-read this gift each Christmas, the meaning will become a little clearer every year.
I hope so, for I want more than anything else for you to understand this simple truth that can set you free:
No one owes you anything.
Life as the other woman is just SO hard. You can’t put pictures of your cute little getaways on social media, you can’t brag to all of your friends how awesome your new man is, and you can’t bring him home to meet the folks. Your sleepovers are few and far between and you know you’ll never get that goodnight or good morning text from him because he’s at home with his family. Oh shit — did you forget about those other people? Y’know, his wife? His children? You probably didn’t think it would matter; you probably figured it was just a little affair and we would never find out. We’ll just go on and live the rest of our lives completely unaffected by it, right?
Nope. I am the child of a cheating father and believe me, I’ve been deeply affected by the mistakes you’ve made. In fact the pain that you’ve caused me will follow me for the rest of my life. Soon after my father’s infidelities came to light I struggled with depression, anxiety, and binge drinking — problems that I had never had before you were around. I was in so deep I didn’t realize I was spiraling out of control until I had nearly destroyed my academic career, my friendships and my relationships. The selfish choices you made ruined my whole family. Not just my mom, and not just me or my sister either. But his parents too. His sisters, nieces and nephews. My mom’s sisters and her nieces and nephews. It ruined my relationship with my boyfriend of two years because I couldn’t deal with the stress you caused. People have openly mocked me about my dad being a philanderer and I can’t say anything back because it’s true. Do you have any idea how it feels to come home to your crying, depressed mother and have to be the one to comfort her because of mistakes YOU made? Members of my family (myself included) had mental breakdowns because of the pain that YOU caused. The worst part is that I had to accept you or face the threat of being cut out of my father’s life. Because, after all of this, he’s still crass enough to continue dating you. Yeah, he may have left her, but don’t you dare believe he ever did it for you.
THIS is not a little affair and you’re ruining people’s lives far beyond your own. It’s bad enough to disregard his wife, but the damage you’ve caused me and everyone else will haunt us forever and you will eventually pay for what you’ve done. You can attempt to justify your decision by saying he was unhappy and that, if it weren’t you, he would have probably just cheated with another woman. But it’s not your place to decide “If not me, someone else.” You let it be someone else.
“Food items such as caterpillars, bugs, and flies are offered to be eaten during copulation. The female is first attracted by a pheromone emitted by one or more vesicles or pouches at the end of the male’s abdomen. When the female is near, the vesicles are retracted. The female examines the offering while the male searches for her genitalia with his own. If the gift is rejected, the female flies away. If the gift is accepted, the genitalia of the male couples with that of the female, who lowers herself until she is hanging upside down. She consumes the offering during copulation. The male supports the female by holding her legs or the prey. Field observations show that both sexes mate several times per day. Small or unacceptable offerings result in no or a very short copulation time. Duration depends on the size of the gift. It has been observed that prey 3 to 14 mm long will provide 1 to 17 minutes of copulation in Hylobittacus apicalis. Larger H. apicalis give prey the size of houseflies in return for 20 to 29 minutes of copulation. This results in a maximum sperm transfer, increased oviposition, and a refractory period.” en.m.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecoptera
Three and Four
There are three who see me one who has not.
Four lovelorn in glee and sorrow share my lot.
One eyes me in the morning when I awaken.
Another looks to me for lunch time after ten.
Then there is high tea time tender one at four.
But one who meets me in darkness sees more.
Four who wonder where I have been stay true.
Three high limbs of the tree to share the view.
All have always been there prying at the door.
While none stay they sail from bay to shore.
Though two have left for lands far to the north.
Only one dims the light house and sees more.
There are three who bring me corpses to eat.
Four gallant greys who dance me complete.
No others can stand in none take their place.
For there are three to widen my arms’ embrace.
False lovers true friends there are three not four.
Yet one in blind reflective eyes I see me more.
A journalist and mistress of 42 years writes lovingly but not without misgivings about her life as the other to the only lover she had. Look closely at the psyche of the mistress as she grapples with love, pride, joy, guilt and regret. Her role is complex and sheds light on the mistress in all people who indulge in their greatest, most illicit (by society’s mores) loves or lusts whether that be music, poetry, sex, drugs or chocolate, to name a few. The joy that causes pain, the guilt and responsibility to community, to an other, and deep desire cast shadows on a lifetime of love. Truth and honesty are always in the forefront of the sacrifice in being the mistress, expecting and not daring to expect either or both. This author writes herself well.
Below is the link to an interesting twist on the cheated wife’s revenge when a clever and insightful wife befriends her husband’s mistress and saves her marriage.
Though a seeming condemnation of the mistress, Pamela Haag’s “Chicken Soup for the Mistress’ Soul” is a balanced examination of the role and plight of the mistress. As the title suggests, she offers medicine and comfort to the much maligned mistress, noting her significance in unsuspected ways: they are the scaffolding of important contributors to culture and society such as Martin Luther King, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Franz Liszt, as well as they are marriage savers for the everyday people.
The article is a few years old but is an entertaining and informative read with a creative approach. She begins: “Dear Mistress or Lover: Let’s face it. No one’s making chicken soup for your cheating soul.” She reproaches the addressed mistress or lover in the voice of the normative current (and historically recent) attitude that mistresses are immoral and unethical, thieves and masochists. However, aside from attaching them to historical greats such as those mentioned above, she also makes a simple but significant (and counterintuitive) assertion that lovers may also be marriage savers. Due to the clandestine nature of the relationship, this fact is rarely acknowledged, though certainly true, at least anecdotally to my experience and others who have confessed their stories.
I particularly like Haag’s explanation of the marriage saving function here:
Sometimes you help an ambivalent spouse escape marriage without escaping.
You help them run away without running away from the marriage entirely. You
help them manage loyalty to a marriage or to their children and parenthood
without wrecking the marriage wholesale on a serial monogamist’s dream of
romantic fulfillment elsewhere, or growing bitter on the brine of their
resentment at being “trapped” in an unfulfilling life.
In these cases, you’re not the home wrecker so much as the home’s flying
buttress: You hold it together through an ingenious force of design and
gravity, from the outside.
You create sustaining oases of pleasure and happiness in a duty-driven
marriage, or life.
The children dreamed about, planned for, often if not always, add overwhelmingly unaccountable stress that tests the marriages of the sagest most circumspect couples in their measured choice of marital partners, let alone those great numbers who lurch into the institution for good, bad or indifferent reasons in less than optimal circumstances, financially, emotionally or situationally. Many a good man or woman, untold numbers, have patched their marriages through those betwixing times with the love and support of an-other, one detached from the toils of the quotidien and strains of the impossible: lover, mother, father, provider, worker, son, daughter and friend, all at once. That resonates true. Neither a hero(ine) or villain, the mistress (and mister) supply the glue sometimes. Leave her be.
I have always wondered what the male equivalent of the mistress is…Mister? I came across this article, though a few years old, is an interesting thought and history of the male mistress role, the mister (tongue in cheek, I think).
See the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-abbott/if-he-has-a-mistress-why-_b_966332.html
In the house of lovers the walls are made of songs, the floor dances and the music never stops. ~ Rumi zenquotes.org/rumi-quotes