Grasping Love Brings Heartache

We’re at our Art Class when Regina puts down her paint brush, tucks some brown hair behind her ear, looks at me and says, “I have to dump my boyfriend.”

Carol, who is doggedly painting some flowers, doesn’t hear Regina, because eighty-year old Carol can’t hear too well.
About ten minutes ago Regina had mentioned that The Boyfriend was taking her tonight to see The Pageants of the Masters in Laguna Beach and Carol said, “What? You’re going to be on a mattress, tonight?”

Stan, Regina and I laughed and Regina, said, “Ah..yes…I guess I will be on a mattress, tonight.”

I said, “I’m jealous.”

Regina is the woman who’s husband died about two years ago, at fifty, from colon cancer. As you recall, his illness and death traumatized all of us.

Regina has since been valiantly putting herself out into the world, remodeling her house, keeping her mind busy and living life.

When she tells me she is going to dump her boyfriend, our teacher, Stan, is out of the room. It’s best that way as he gets upset about these kinds of announcements.

“So,” I ask, “why are you going to dump him?”

“Because he is suffocating me!” Regina says, with fervor. “He calls me three times a day and he emails me and he wants to be with me every day and he says he’s in love with me and he has only known me a couple of months!”

“Oh, I get it,” I say. “A girl I know who is only nineteen just said the same thing to me. She said her boyfriend calls many times a day and when she sees his number on the phone she makes a bad face and thinks, ‘Man!! I just talked to you, what more could you possibly have to say!’

“I told her that her feelings about his calls are not a good indicator of the beauty and endurance of their relationship.”

Regina heaves a big sigh and slaps her illustration pad on the table top.

“This guy was married for thirty-six years and his wife died and then he takes up with me. He has only been with two women in his life. I want time to myself, and I want to be with my women friends. I tell him this and to back off, but he just won’t. He’s ruining everything.”

I mumble my understanding of her feelings.

“I said to him, ‘Can’t we just be friends, with benefits?’ He said ‘no’ that wouldn’t work. So, it’s all or nothing. The thing is, he’s not ready for me or any woman. He is still grieving his wife. Whenever I do something he says, ‘my wife wouldn’t have done it like that.’

“So what are you going to do, Regina?”

She says she is going to end it, tonight.

Which is very sad, I think. The poor man just doesn’t know that women…just like men…don’t want to be suffocated in a relationship. Everybody needs their space and a bit of mystery and uncertainty about the beloved often keeps things hopping.

I’m thinking of a hair dresser I know, named ‘Sally’. She complains all the time about her rich and loving boyfriend in Canada. He wants to marry her and take her out of California and away from her work and all her family and friends. He demands that she do it his way and that she can have a life of ease if she does. He gives her no other options.

‘Sally’ has been telling everyone that she can’t do it his way, that he is over-bearing, that he is stifling her and that she is going to have to get rid of him.

What happens? He dumps her, first! He calls and says, ‘This Isn’t Working. Let’s just live separate lives for four months. Don’t contact me. Let’s see how it goes.’

‘What happens’ is now ‘Sally’ is crying all day and all night and wailing that this former beast is the Love of Her Heart and that she can’t live without him. She is so steeped in suffering that she can barely cut hair and her voice is raspy from all the moaning and crying she has been doing.

Ummm. Is Love totally not rational? Does it have to be like this?

Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s an idea. Let’s tuck our insecurities away for awhile, put our grasping claws in our pockets and give each other: freedom, mystery, a bit of uncertainty along with the Love…. and see what happens?
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