Too awful to say out loud


I went to meet my friend Brian for tea this morning down in the village. We spoke a bit about the equality march that we all attended last weekend, and how inspirational it had been. Brian is a yoga instructor and our talk turned (as it often does) to Buddhist philosophy and the concept of “Right Livelihood“, among other things. We were talking about the difficulty in knowing with full accounting how our work and actions affect other people, intentional or not. I noticed that there was a very thin woman, about 35 with hair pulled tightly back sitting a couple of tables over from us writing postcards. After we had been talking for about 40 minutes or so, she interrupted us to tell us that we had “really great energy” and then proceeded in a very low voice (almost a whisper really) to tell us she was thinking about leaving her husband. She continued speaking in a very low voice, as if we were co-conspirators somehow, and yet I got the feeling that we really didn’t need to be there at all. She seemed to be working something out in her head and needed a faceless other to confess her feelings to. She talked  about not wanting kids, about being a trader for 6 years, about her husband being 20 years older than her, about their lackluster sex life. She asked if it would be lacking in compassion to leave him. She said he refused to go to couples counseling, but from the way she said that I felt somehow sure she had never suggested such a thing. She apologized for launching into all of this, making it seem as if this was very rare for her, but we got the feeling that we were not the first strangers with “really good energy” that she had unloaded on. She made great hay out of this concept of energy, and how some people give you energy and some people take it. She informed us that her husband was someone that takes more than gives, and she said this part in an even lower whisper than the rest. Next to her postcards (which she informed us were her trying to work out these ideas to herself) were a couple of fashion and glamour magazines. She glanced at them briefly before telling us that she wanted to start some organization to help “young girls”. Yes, absolutely, that is what she wanted to do, and we should do the same to help young “lgbt” kids or young boys or something, that we should “start a website” to do something like that. It struck me that this was some boilerplate “compassion” talk that she probably trotted out at various cocktail parties and probably had been for many years. It dropped as quickly as it had begun. She came back several times to the subject of her loveless marriage and her plans to escape, but it likewise seemed somewhat boilerplate to me. It was at this point that my friend Brian looked at me and then back to her and said “Oh we need to get going…” and we said our goodbyes, wished her well and left the cafe.