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2006-09-13 - 9:38 a.m.

...a friend's problem...

I've been chatting a lot recently with the former technician at Dutchess back in NY - for the sake of this conversation we'll call him Don. He got fed up and left his position at about the same time as I did. I realize now that he and I became very close when I was in NY - he was one of the few people I saw everyday with whom I connected.

Just as this summer brought a lot of changes for me, it brought some drastic upheavals in his life. I got married and found a new job. Don found a new job and is now splitting up with his wife.

It is a terribly sad situation. I know both of them - and like both of them. I am clearly *his* friend however - she was always very warm towards me (and K, after he arrived), but made it clear through her frequent declining of invitations that she did not want to become close.

Anyway, this summer she also found a job - which seems to have liberated her in some way. Because shortly after her taking it, their troubles floated to the surface. I do not think that her job is the problem, but it seems to have served as some kind of trigger - she became financially independent and formed a whole new group of friends outside of their lives together, and all within a matter of a month or two. I may be projecting, but when I saw them together last, it seemed as though some switch inside her had turned. His descriptions of their lives seems to confirm it.

It is terribly sad to see this happening. His personality has altered considerably over the summer in that when out with a group, his personality reverts to that of an immature 20-something boy --> lots of drinking, lots of immature comments, lots of oogling of women. There have been glimpses of the boy inside over the past few years, but this was an all-out change to me. He looks like he is a tight string that is unwinding, manifested both in his behavior but also in his unshaven appearance. He told me last week that he has put on more than ten pounds. On our last night out with friends, he said some rather hurtful things to one of my students who is going off to a doctoral program. She told me the next day that she was shocked to have his comments directed at her, and she was also rather hurt by them. The old Don would not have done such a thing. And if he did, he would have been mortified that he had hurt her feelings.

So, I've been having regular chats with Don because he is very sad, depressed, and weepy. This past week, he asked her to leave their apartment so that they could live separately until their therapy finally begins this week. (don't you love a health system in which you cannot get therapy on your health plan until it's too late). Her reply was that she might as well leave for good then, because she was really only going through the motions of therapy for him, and not her. From his description, she's already made her decision.

I am not sure what can be done at this distance. Actually, there is nothing I can do except to listen, and to offer him a spare room if he chooses fly out to the west coast sometime.

He is feeling awful about failing at a 3-year-old marriage. I don't know quite what to say to that, except to reassure him that a marriage ending does not equate to his being a failure.

He also says that his all-out urge right now is to just go out and fuck someone - anyone. I also am not quite sure what to say to that either - a good fuck might be a good energy release....except that if he thinks that there is a grain of hope in their staying together, I am certain that doing this would not help to bolster the waning trust between them. (and chances of getting a 'good' fuck when you are that desperate....? well, that's another entry now isn't it.)

So I stay at this distance and listen. I've also told a mutual friend who has watched this happen over the summer - she is back from her field season in Spain and has catch-up issues of her own, but she is a good empathizer and I was hoping that she could take him out for a coffee - or for a bike ride or something.

Sigh, and everytime I talk to Don I have to get up and walk into the other room and hug and kiss K - thankful that we have each other and that we have a solid fundament on which to build our lives together.


On another note - today is my from J's birthday. I must remember to give him a ring. We haven't spoken in a long time.

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