Remember the Wizard of Oz, “Lions, Tigers and Bears…Oh My!” I had a little trouble coming up with a title for this sordid tale.
This makes me feel that the title is perfectly fitting now. Over the Rainbow is a song I have long loved. When I took singing lessons way back, I sang this song – as so many singing students do. It just has such an optimistic, make your dreams come true feeling. BUT to add in some Simple Gifts – a hymn that I play clawhammer on my banjo, it becomes so perfectly me. I have a predilection for playing and enjoying gospel music on the banjo.
Am I procrastinating getting into this story? Yes, absolutely I am. The Simple Gifts I received via this experience are priceless. I have heard many stories in my day. This one could be taken on a completely different tangent than the one I chose. Because I choose my own story. The following experience resulted in great growth opportunities. So why would I seriously consider not including it? See what you think.
“The most important thing we can do in our lives is stop acting as if anything is a drama. Treat drama like it really is: a trigger, asking us to dive deeper.” Teal gives an insightful explanation that when we display drama or strong emotions, it acts like a flag to point towards our unresolved and unintegrated grief. Discovering the causality of our conflict changes it. I would call that healing. It is important to recognize the messengers. They are only reflecting your unhealed wounds back to you. Do not shoot the messenger!! I would hazard to guess that most personal conflict arises from the past wounds, going unrecognized. The messenger gets shot and is now a more wary human being for the next relationship, romantic or otherwise. The heart is walled off and less available to give and receive love.
I point to divorce or unconscious uncoupling as the creator of numerous examples. Love the term conscious uncoupling. Each partner takes some responsibility for the wounds they brought to the relationship. They see each other’s human essence and can peacefully coexist whether they have children to parent together or not. When there are children and the coupling is uncouscious, the ground is ripe for creating trauma in the children. This is the common fear that I hear and have heard relative to my own conscious uncoupling. My sense is that unrecognized emotional wounds in parents have untoward effects on kids whether the parents stay married or choose to uncouple. Love to call a spade a spade… The best thing we can do for kids: parents heal thyselves! Easier said than done, I know.
August 12, 2014. This was the day where this story, experienced years ago, took form. I had been avoiding this tale despite sitting down to it many times. Most of my anecdotes just form all at once. I read Jeff Foster’s poem posted this day which at long last lit up the outline for how to paint the picture. Some surprises for me. Tears came as I felt it download. Even though the story was long known to me, details of how to share it and the issues to include are downloaded. From my higher self? From the Muse?
RAYS OF SUNSHINE THROUGH THE CLOUDS
In the midst of conflict,
have you ever suddenly felt a near-unbearable wave of compassion
for the one on the ‘other side’?
You are not crazy. You are not ‘going soft’.
You are waking up.
You have felt their pain as your own, their struggle as your struggle.
You have forgotten all your clever reasons to be at war.
You have lost interest in winning.
You have remembered that once you were kin.
In another life, perhaps, or in another reality, or in another moment,
they were your brother, your sister, your mother, your friend, your son.
Once, you held them in your arms so tenderly.
Once, you played together in the river.
Perhaps you will play again.
Perhaps you are the hope of this world.
– Jeff Foster
Tears came to my eyes after reading this…knowing the narrative will be scripted. With the intention of love and compassion to all involved. I savor the memories of some highly charged events. Life was not boring. I got to walk my talk… and it was good. Maybe I was not even talking. I made some connections to ancient wisdom and had a chance to try them out for the first time. Believe it or not, it was easy too. The hugest problem I see in society today is the idea that being loving, authentic, transparent and honest is hard. Load of bullshit. The way I see it is those who are not authentic, transparent, loving and honest have a waaaay harder time. In the words of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, “Just watch me”.
This will be the story of the Laser Eye Surgery Center – seen through a wide view lens. It began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where my then husband received one year of Corneal Subspecialty Training. It was an intense year with rewards and challenges. My firstborn daughter was born two months into the training. The plan to deliver before moving to the United States was thwarted by nature. Not a big deal really. My partner had funding from the Canadian Institute for the Blind to cover his wages so it was easy to negotiate that the hospital cover all expenses related to the birth of our child. $500US per month: cadillac Health Insurance was provided. Yes! Not a Canadian penny was spent on our healthcare that year. I was pretty shocked that the bill to deliver a healthy child came to over $10,000 US. That was at the downtown hospital too. We later learned that the fancy people would never have their baby at the Hennepin County Medical Centre. The suburbs was where the local Doctors delivered. I was treated like a VIP and had no complaints. First tangent, whoops!
That was 1997 and refractive laser surgery, to remove the need for glasses, was relatively new. It was my sense that this was one of the first years that the technique could have been offered in training. It was a great opportunity for my buddy to be taken under the wing of a private operator. With that training fresh and new, he was keen to keep it going. Upon return to Edmonton and joining his father in Private Practice, he took the first opportunity that came up to do refractive surgery. He joined Lasikvision, a multi-center Canadian group of Surgeons. Learning curve both surgically, less of a challenge, along with the business side. My sensible husband was the first to leave a ship that did eventually sink. Saw that one coming. He then joined a small two center operation that worked well for a time. Issues continued to crop up: sanitation, business, agreements etc. Contract worker: owner/operator. The debate was long entertained. Neither my partner or myself were jumping on the bandwagon of ownership of a Surgery Centre. Conservative by nature we were. I wanted to be clear about why we would choose to own. What do we know about running a private surgical centre? I more than he believed in simplicity. Would this not complicate our life? We are doing just fine, aren’t we? His contract work connected him to two people who were egging him on to go for it. One was a salesman-type business manager, the other was the surgical assistant. I will call the manager Otto and the assistant Flora. Names have been changed for whatever it is worth. I could hear my buddy getting won over by the weekly influences of Otto and Flora. OK, if he was seriously thinking about it, so would I.
I was more reluctant than my buddy in this exciting venture… just a little. It was not my dream, for sure. I was completely busted when the deciding factor for me was my Dad saying “go for it”. You think you are all grown up and then you get caught jumping at the smallest encouragement…when it is your Dad. We were driving to Saskatchewan to see my Grandparents. It was a 500 mile drive so there was lots of time to catch up with life. I felt the yes click into place the millisecond my Dad approved. Gotta laugh… No regrets though. I love learning in the University of Life.
Explorations discover that it would be a dream for my husband. Now there was a good reason. The plans started to formulate: costs, accreditation, financing, human resources etc. The fact that two key employees worked for the prior facility was a huge concern. It was felt that these key people were an asset to the plan. Legal counsel was obtained. This was not too cumbersome but not free. And not without drama.
The idea of conscious business mentality was on our minds. How do we honor the key players? Neither of us had much business experience. We had heard about companies like Starbucks who shared profits with their employees. We liked the idea of giving them a small share in the company but needed guidance on how to do it. After talking with accountants and lawyers, we did not have a formalized way. Everyone discouraged doing it via giving Shares. Whoops! Too late now. It had been discussed. In the meanwhile, business was up and away. OK, let us figure this all out on the fly. Our accountant was known for great one-liner advice. I recall him once saying, “Nothing ruins a good friendship faster than a bad business relationship”. That one is pure gold.
The Medical Director of the Centre, my then husband, was a pretty busy guy. Definitely, he and I were crossing our fingers that the other two might hold some water. Within four months, Otto was out – not concerned about undelivered promises. He preferred to work for a multi-centre group and ended up being wooed by one of the competitors. The same human beings who sunk their first ship. Interesting how that works. Fine. It was a blessing that we recognized right away. It was getting pretty awkward when we could see his skills were not translating into the skills we were hoping for. I read the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. One of the first tips is to get the right people on the bus. We had no end of problems in that area. Reading that book showed me that I naturally knew the content. Common sense in how to run a business. As in everything, easier said than done…
I always felt good about Flora’s skills. I wrongly assumed that once Otto left, the three of us would be a team. Personally, Flora and I were not friends despite the long work relationship between she and my buddy. She and her husband had recently separated. I was a bit blind at the time to how big an event that can be. She is tough by nature. I could relate to that. Somehow, both my buddy and I chose to be less than forthright about how involved I was in the business. I saw her as having an ego. She would not like to know that I carry weight for my overworked partner. Already knew that she and I did not connect that strongly. Noteworthy, with the strong work connection at the laser centre, when my buddy needed more help in his private practice, he hired Flora in a contract style. She did elevate herself above a regular employee: Invoicing, being paid that way. I admired her confidence and attitude. She had high expectations. It worked in her favor. After several years, my buddy would tell me how she vowed to work with him until retirement. He was flattered… a little surprised how she could be so committed.
Back to the project: developing the permanent site while operating in a temporary, sweet deal, location. The leasehold developments went way over budget. It was a freak in the Edmonton Economic cycle. I recall headlines describing the impact this had on the City of Edmonton also. So our initial plan for $750,000 loan turned into a $1.3 million loan. Slightly uncomfy for the Doctors –he and I. It had a bigger impact on him. We were committed and there was no turning back anyway. Let us make the best of it. The shareholder agreement just kept getting put off month after month. Flora was quite patient with it. Her own domestic uncertainties enabled a delayed enactment. She had no money in. If she bought in before her divorce was complete, her former husband could own half. Reality settled and it was hard to imagine a mutual agreement coming forth. Figured this out within the first months of operation. Problem. What to do? My idea: let us hash it out. My buddy’s idea: let me stick my head in a hole and see if this problem will magically disappear. He feared her quitting and he felt he needed her. My interpretation anyway.
My official role in the company: book keeper. My actual role: A whole lot bigger than that. I did whatever I could without showing my face on site.
Short version of story: dysfunctional leadership. Three people believing themselves to be at the helm in some capacity. Thora, my buddy and I. A little love triangle.
It was not long before my buddy was ordering Thora and I not to communicate together. Everything had to go through him. That love triangle becomes a line… with a very resistant, and busy, dude in the middle … with his head stuck in a hole. I laugh out loud as I write that. Never thought of it that way.
Somehow felt that I had to give that reality backdrop to paint another layer on the story.
Behind the scenes, I am personally feeling a need for transformation both for myself and the marriage. Truth is so much stranger than fiction. My buddy felt a lot of stress in his work combination by this time. Private practice. Surgical Facility ownership. As much as the center was stressful, it was healthy. Cash flowed very well. He operated one day a week at the onset with a low overhead situation in a temporary location–prior to the permanent center. There was a great big party with the patients every week. He became addicted to it. It was a great success! If we just forgot about the debt and some of the human resource headaches, the company was doing very well. The debt was not unmanageable the way things were going. I could see my husband wilting severely. Life was just out of balance. I was very sensitive to that and encouraging him to make some changes. I am someone who read the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People three times. No other book can get that satisfaction. I even read the Seven Habits for Highly Effective Teens with my kids too. Simple stuff.
1. Be Proactive.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
3. Think win: win.
4. Put first things first.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
7. Sharpen the Saw – this one was being neglected most by my buddy. Cannot cut with a dull saw.
The other big concept from that book that I still think about today: Stephen Covey created 4 quadrants of priority in tasks. He felt that most people have a tendency in filling their time with things that are urgent but not important. Someone else unloads their agenda to you. We need to be very mindful of doing the non-urgent, important things. How we handle that type of task can create the atmosphere in your life. If you feel you are always putting out fires, you may not be attending to task prioritization very well. Many emergencies are avoided by doing the important but non-urgent tasks in a timely manner. If you need a reminder, there was that old Shareholder Agreement issue with Thora that kept getting put on the backburner. I wonder why? My perspective sees it as: my buddy wanted to maintain control. He wanted to inform her that the agreement was off the table permanently but there was a risk that she would quit. My idea: look for a win:win that is not the shareholder agreement. There is a chance that she will refuse. It is her choice to work towards an agreement or quit. His style was by doing nothing he maintained more control than tackling the conflict in discussion, looking for a mutually agreeable solution. So it is of absolutely no surprise to me that he handles our divorce agreement in the same way – coming on 4 years. Assets still not in my name. Any day now. I am not suffering. I will not hold my breath.
Will throw in a wee example of my style of dealing with an issue that is important but not urgent. Early in the months of the permanent Centre opening, I saw a looming problem. In Medical School, unlike Dental School, there is not a stitch of education about running a business. Doctors just wing it. With the Surgical Centre, we planned on using our common sense. Worked not too badly. Also, talk to other business owners. We did that for Human Resource problems. A garden variety cashflow problem was detected. Time of arrival: less than four weeks. I was the only one in the position to see it. I recall mentioning it reluctantly to my buddy. Never wanted to add to his load but had to discuss. As expected, it weighed heavy. He ordered me to tell nobody else. I rarely defied orders but one day later, I called our Banking Representative. When you borrow a million dollars, you form a relationship. I was the one maintaining this relationship. Enjoyed. I felt comfortable sharing the situation with her. Within ten seconds, she happily offered the solution: a line of credit for $100,000. That was easy. It was a reminder that we are a bit debt averse. In a business like this, having a line of credit was common. My buddy was not too happy that I shared the situation with the Banker. I knocked my head a couple of times. Made little sense how he was more mad than happy for a simple solution. This was a super objective sign for me to appreciate the difference between my buddy and I. How would it have gone if we said nothing and it turned into an emergency? I sensed the shame associated with being perceived by others as “not having enough money”. It was not logical in this context in my paradigm. It was kindergarten business tool awareness. I made a note. He is sensitive on this topic.
Back to the Flora challenge:
I recognized within a couple of months that she wanted to own the company. She worked as if she was the owner. As a result, she had frequent arguments with the owner. Big problem needed a timely resolution. She had a dream…and my buddy watered that dream. She would not have parted with it easily. My prediction, she would have quit. Possibly, after having difficulty finding another job to her satisfaction, she would have returned.
I consider myself like a painter as I write my little stories. A dot here. A dab there. Information link here. Music video link there. Photo here. Facebook post picture there. Artwork here. Nature there. Reminds me of a cute little skit from “That’s So Weird” Love that show! Saturday Night Live for kids.
Months of planning and preparation for the opening of the Centre and it was time to purchase or lease the surgical equipment. I was personally so disappointed when the big Ophthalmology Conference landed on the same week as Spring Break for the kids’ school. I was planning for the family to travel to Mexico for a vacation. The conference was like a trade show. This year, my buddy had to go and sort out the equipment for the Centre. One of the surgical companies had lent him a laser that got the cash flowing. Sweet deal! But not a permanent solution. As a result he had to go to the conference. It did not take me long to decide to carry on with my original plan…sans (without, in French) husband. That created a few ripples. People were quite silent at the idea… in a spooky way. Unwritten rule: married women with children are not supposed to vacation with their kids when their husband is not present. I had been playing around in my mind with how I was going to deal with my marriage dissatisfaction. Separate holidays was on that list. Let me just try that one on. I had been keeping my eyes open to other couples and saw how few of them had anything inspiring to offer. Most found ways to silently slip out of each others lives…while still sharing a business together. The family business…as in raising kids together under the same roof. There is a practical side there. Cost savings running one house rather than two. Money is not everything. Sure I have heard that somewhere before.
Loved the vacation. I did it my way. No arguing about the plan. Nice change. Kids were 9 years, 6 years and 2 years. That little toddler was
Jean-Luc. Fondest memory of the daily ritual I formed starting the first day. I told the two older kids that they would have to entertain themselves each afternoon in the hotel room while JL took a nap. I would be on the balcony reading… Ekhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Completely outside myself, it was Jesus who delivered my coffee and snack to enjoy during the afternoon siesta each day. Warmed my heart. The name on the nametag of the hotel employee who delivered my room service was Jesus. It was a big resort. There had to be other guys on shift. I got him every single day. Truth is Stranger than Fiction, I always say.
Many friends later told me they knew a divorce was on its way. Really? I think it is more via energy than just taking your kids on vacation without their dad. Is that really so strange?
Along the wayside, I had diagnosed my buddy as suffering with depression. I dragged him to a counselor connected to the Medical Association. The therapist, a lovely woman, saw a lot of Doctors as a result. I learned a lot from her. It was interesting to hear her declare that she has seen so many Doctors sit on her couch and be unable to connect to their feelings. Hmmm…. interesting. She was the one who declared to me, “Angele, it sounds like you are waiting for permission”…to leave. She was referring to divorcing my husband. Wow! She was right. I was waiting for him to agree. She was worth every penny of her fees, paid by the Medical Association, a benefit, for that perception. Why did I need to be told that? Felt like such a smart one needing somebody outside myself to inform me … of my own feelings. Cannot quite take the Doctor out of the girl, I guess. Maybe sometimes we really do need someone to help us see our own feelings. Or is it just Doctors? How to get unstuck? That is where a close friend with a spot on intuition can come in handy. Sometimes we are not ready to hear the truth, even our own. At this point, we were in the middle of one last try. Months after I had a powerful experience feeling a strong romantic attraction to another man. I saw him and instantly felt: “Wow! Wonder if he is married? Wait a minute, I am married!” Straw that broke the camel‘s back. Since I had not been able to fully look at the truth that I needed to make a change, the Universe kept sending stronger and stronger signals. I have always had a fascination about Infidelity. I wondered what it was. How come it is so common? If it is so common, why is everyone so surprised when it pops up? Now I had my own experience. Oooooh, that is what infidelity is! It is when you have emotionally left your marriage and are now open to the next relationship. Good to know. I get it now… Carry on.
I have given the whole CD very many listens. I own lots of Wailin Jennys’ music. I am a big fan! I jumped up and down when this song popped into my head as going in this story. Always wondered why I liked this song so much. It was that line “I’m not the cheatin’ kind. It snuck up from behind. Kicked in the door to someday, I can’t get her off my mind.” My thoughts: we, as a society, have set ourselves up for it. Then we cry foul every single time it shows its predictable face. We are stuck in a loop, yet again. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Is it working? Maybe we will have to change something, not sure…
More lyrics from the song:
“I held on for so long. Dusty, quaint old song. Things attached with glue…”
“All or nothing now. Might as well be true. Leave the dream of hearth and home that never will come through.”
“Sweet wild road ahead. Sweet wild road ahead. If I lied and said that all was well, I might as well be dead.”
That is called experiential learning. Way more fun and impactful than just reading it in a book! Only once it showed itself in my life could I understand it. It had always confused me: the drama of it all. The villainizing of the mistress. Often, it appeared to me that the man was never villainized with the same ferocity. By a long ways. Does that make sense to you? It takes two to tango…
A novel approach: We could choose to live and let live…nobody gets villainized.
Tangent alert: I had a small experience with this mistress villainization myself. Are you surprised? I always have a story. There was a young man who caught my attention in medical school – before my marriage partner did. When I saw my marriage partner on the first day of Medical School, I leaned over to my best friend and said, “He is really cute. But too young.” My friends now would roar to hear that one. He is one year younger but I always joke that he had not finished puberty when he started Med School. Maybe not the most tactful thing to say about your husband. He informed me that we were in the same Organic Chemistry class in Pre-Med and he sat a couple of rows behind me each class – admiring me apparently. I was eating my lunch next to my best friend in that class. I felt I was seeing him for the first time in Med School. Felt weird to think of that. It was not long before a man of Irish descent was on my radar. Pretty big crush actually. I had no idea what to do with it. He was smart, witty, handsome, hilarious. A nice combo. In my books. Off the charts tall which I was neutral to… but a unique characteristic nonetheless. I kept my eye on him. Noticed I was awkward around him so getting to know him seemed unlikely. One day I saw him with a lovely lass. She looked a lot like him physically. She could have been a sibling. It was not long after that we found ourselves sharing mutual
admiration with each other. Alcohol was involved. I was in the process of learning that it may not be the best to mix a new romance and alcohol. We were getting along rather swell. I inquired about the girl I saw him with. “Oh, that is the sister of one of my roommates. She is nothing”, said he. I believe I am quoting here. Well I asked. And I believed. I wanted to believe. Long story short. It got very intimate. And she was his girlfriend. My initial clue was jogging up alongside of him on the track next school day–habit for a large group of us at lunchtime– and he did not acknowledge me, picked up the pace and low and behold: he was now jogging with “the girl I saw him with originally”. Fine. I was not too miffed. My best friend was. She called him lots of expletives on my behalf. I felt badly for the girlfriend. I felt that had I known he had a girlfriend, I would have chose to behave differently. Today, may be different but back then, I was solid about it. My friend summed it up, “you are better off without a guy like that”. I agreed. Minor setback. It happened for me.
What angered me was later discovering that she held great contempt for me. What??? So I guess he fessed up. Wow! I was in the know of how it went down. It seemed to me that her anger was a wee misdirected. I was not even aware of her being of significance. I asked specifically. I saw her walk beside him once. That malevolence went on and on. I found it slightly amusing and came to expect it. I was more the “been there, done that, carry on” type. They ended up moving in together so she was around at the functions for a while. I found her very pretty and sweet from afar. I was genuinely concerned for her choice of partner. Over time, they broke up. He married another of our Med. School classmates. To the dismay of many. Years later, I ran into them at West Edmonton Mall. Not a happy scene (the look of their relationship)…and no surprise to me. There were a couple of little kidlets to show also – always love that. Again, petty experience but I surprise myself how my Infidelity interest had more episodes than I paid attention to. Until now. Cannot help but throw in the choice my tall Med School friend made one day at a wedding we both attended after graduation. We were both married at this point to fellow classmates. He chose to ensure that my marriage partner knew the whole story about he and I. Felt really good about the fact that I had already told my marriage buddy. My guess is that my old friend was disappointed that he could not have stirred up a bit of drama notifying my husband of something that he did not already know. I am honest to a fault. Look at this writing for instance. His conversation with my husband left a bad taste in the mouth somehow. Some may start to question my taste in men. I see the jewel in people. I really do. When they do not live up to their jewel, I am just surprised. Life seems to run smoother when we take responsibility for our actions and choices.
Back to the story:
I was ripe and ready for an affair. I wonder if there are other options? Hmmmm… Maybe I should get a divorce. This could easily have happened years earlier… to be authentic. Age of youngest child does seem to factor in – as I look around me. My youngest little blessing was 6 years old by this time. Where did those years go? Relevant to add: I cannot even be sure when I last had intimate relations with my husband. Did it occur after the birth of Jean-Luc or not? I am not a reliable witness to that answer. Says a lot. I do remember that one day, maybe after JL’s birth, there was a close encounter of the intimate kind. I was considering it…and then all of a sudden I had the idea that Flora was there. I asked him, I feel her energy here. Did you talk to her today about sexual relations? Creeped me out. I did not think too much about it but my feelings said intimacy was a no go.
The centre opened. Yeah! The next Christmas Party I felt the coldest pricklies coming from Flora. I thought little of it but noted to my buddy. He looked very surprised. I proceeded to have a good time on the dancefloor… with my buddy. I always feel that is the best approach to a grumpy, unexplained meany. Have a good time! I remarked that her gift to him, a fancy tie, was inappropriate for an employee. He got her a bottle of wine like all the other staff, a token to accompany the generous cash bonuses – as far as I know. Months later found a gushy Birthday card from her to him in the side pouch of his briefcase. A place that myself and all staff were regularly poking around in. That was our way of sending things back and forth. So he was not hiding it. It made my stomach lurch. My brain right away thought, hmmmm. Is it possible that they are romantic? My heart said no. Marched right up to him and asked him about it. He stated, “Oh, you know her. She is just like that.” Really? I retorted with, “How would you feel if a man gave me a card with as much emotion?” No answer. I asked him point blank if he was romantically connected and he said No. Next declaration by me was, “You need to settle this. It sounds like she has a thing for you. Ignore at your peril.” I was confused. Something was not quite right.
May be worth noting that Flora had a boyfriend. They spent a fair amount of time together, including vacations. I eventually chose to speak up to my buddy when he would regularly berate the actions and words of the boyfriend. I reminded him that it was crossing a boundary for him to share any of his personal thoughts about Flora’s boyfriend. Why even spend a thought on it? He felt the business arguments with Flora arose from the boyfriend’s views. Hmmmm…. Not cool.
Finally landed December 2009: I asked for a divorce. Amazing how hard that was. Not even sure why. I was certain that I was best served with a divorce. I wanted to sell out of the Surgical Centre. “As the laser turns” was our running joke. Drama churned up nearly daily like a soap opera: not my style. Two months after my Infidelity revelation and three years after the rough start with the company. He talked me into the one last try, one year, which ended at nine months. Part of that package was to hire a Human Resource Consultant. Says a lot right there, doesn’t it? We got to know this specific woman who was a parent of a hockey player on Jacques’, son’s, team. I really liked her and had reviewed some of our challenges with her already. Why pay less when you can pay more? That was definitely the state of affairs with the HR consultant. I knew the problem but my buddy loves spending money on consultants to tell him things I have already told him. Don’t I just sound like a nagging wife? I had lived through his difficulty in handling his HR problem with Flora. The solution somehow could not come through me. I will make this part of the story short. It ended with her being fired. Only after she got nervous that she would be fired and started accusing my buddy of sexual harassment. Slanderous remarks were strewn about. Really regretted throwing out that Birthday Card let me tell you. I was keeping an open mind. Always felt there was more to that story. Was preparing myself for the truth, whatever it might have been. I remember receiving the call from my buddy asking me if I was sitting down. He shared the news that Flora was suing him for sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal. I was not sure what to believe but did not see that one coming – the sexual harassment part. Innocent until proven guilty in my books. Just want to point out that we spent a lot of money, six figures, on firing a woman who might have quit with a more authentic communication years earlier. Just sayin’. Guess what the HR consultant recommended? That he and Flora along with the consultant lock themselves into a room and not leave until they have sorted it out: The shareholder agreement. Really? Sounds familiar.
If you are always sensible and on top of things, life can be quite bland. Now we get the spicy, spicy version. I write this story three years later and really feel that this spicy version was way more interesting. I learned a lot through it. More importantly, I experienced a lot. Charged with sexual harassment. Hmmmm… How will this play out?
When the story took a nosedive, it was immediately followed with me lifting up and finding the highest road I could. There was a great view from there! I did not know what the truth was. It really did not matter. I felt the responsibility could be shared three ways. I was in there somewhere. I knew that. I acted less than transparently. Forgetting some of my own best advice. In the end, I had great compassion for all three of us.
Flora: recently divorced, single mom, her own mother suffered with unstable mental health (Bipolar Disorder –in time, my own diagnosis, interesting) throughout her childhood. She was charming, beautiful, a good saleswoman, possessing different gifts to my own. She was in survival mode. I felt she was manipulative…and really reminded me of the energy of my Mother-in-Law. My eyes were wide open all of a sudden making that connection. It made sense that my buddy might be attracted to her.
Flora feared how she would look after her own lovely daughter. I get that. I actually told friends at a dinner celebrating my 40th Birthday ”she is the kind of woman that a man would have an affair with”. Sometimes I do not even listen to myself. It was years later that I remembered saying that.
My buddy: a hardworking, gifted Surgeon and Doctor, fears not accumulating a humongous nest egg for the kids. Has strong connections to social norms. Believes a man must work hard to be worthwhile. He was doing his best but found it impossible to have the hard conversations. He feared not being able to run his business without the passion his manager brought to the business. Nobody cared about it like she did. He felt supported with her there. He asked many times for his wife to come in to help run it. I said no, repeatedly. He was half-hearted in that request because he feared I would shake things up.
Myself: Kids are very valuable. I did not like the thought of both parents lacking in balance working long hours at the centre. My controlling nature needed to know my assets were in check. By doing the books, I could see the trends and offered advice and suggestions that way. I knew myself well enough to sense that working any closer, might not have been helpful. I wanted to be truly helpful. Funny, our daughter wonders if we would still be married if it were not for the Centre. Hard to know. I am thankful that these events clarified what I needed to do. It took a lot of drama to snap me out of the social template that marriage was for life. Amazing!
Are you wondering if he had an affair with Flora? My answer is No, but… it depends on how you define affair.
My current understanding is that they never had intercourse but affairs of the heart are more serious. In the process of defending my buddy against the charges of sexual impropriety and wrongful dismissal, binders, really big binders of evidence were collected. Everything was laid on the table. She came out with all guns. I could not help but be interested. Funny how it was only the night before my turn at Discoveries – legal event where the two parties each with a lawyer and a court reporter officially compare notes – did the binders find their way to my attention. They had been in the trunk of my buddy’s car for months. You know me, I can translate down in a unique way. All of the hubbaloo condensed down to:
Flirting under the influence of alcohol, tipsy, at the Conference while Jesus was serving me coffee daily in Mexico.
Heated yelling fight between Flora and my buddy about the Shareholder agreement that ended with a hug in early months of the permanent centre opening. One of those energy filled hugs. Something had shifted there. It was way more personal all of a sudden.
Walking arm in arm together somewhere, sometime. He had told me everything himself…only after the lawsuit was intitiated. Except the email he wrote to her romantically wishing she could have attended a trip he took to one of the Carribean Islands where a Surgeon gave him a personal demonstration of a surgical technique. I cannot even remember the name of the Island. Shows how much I cared I guess. That was new to me… and clarified the sadness of the situation. My buddy was now officially busted … by me anyway.
He should have had the affair. He wanted to. He hated himself for wanting it. That eventually turned into hating her as well. The cause of the Depression. Viola! I love when I can understand fundamentally. His cultural/social/family belief systems told him that he was a bad man. I honestly cried for him – hating himself. I do not want that for the father to my children. As parents, we template our kids. It occurs just by being ourselves. They will pick up the energetic tendency
to hate themselves for their passions. That is the furthest thing from what I want for my prior marriage partner … or anyone. He hated that he fell into a situation that he had always judged as appalling. The typical Surgeon falls for his right hand woman, manager. He divorces wife and lives happily ever after with the beautiful coworker. Maybe it is typical for a reason? When a man is looking for someone to share his dream, why not? See where that judgment stuff can just take a great big bite from your own butt? I always love to ask, is it authentic? If yes, it is a go.
When I informed my buddy that I wanted a Divorce, I followed it with go ahead and explore things with Flora. It was fine with me. I wanted him to be happy, authentic. This was months before her being fired so I did not have all the evidence then, just intuition. She shared his dream. He had lost me anyway, he did not have to lose her too. He had become so suspicious of her by then. Money was at play so it got confusing. In the end, he came to hate her. My translation: misdirected self-hate. Not a good sign in my books. Passion misdirected. Maybe it all ended as it needed to. Heaven only knows…
My turn at Discoveries was a huge experience. Words likely cannot describe it but I will give it a go. The setting was a large conference room at one of the lawyers’ office. Present were Flora, my buddy, two lawyers, a court reporter and myself. Our lawyer, Jason, was an awesome guy: specialized in human resources from Calgary. He was a friend of our brother-in-law, came highly recommended. My state of mind was summed up by: I am going to stand beside my friend/husband. We will get out of this. By this time, it was clear that her case was more about vindictive feelings than any sexual harassment. She wanted to see some money leave his pocket: her most powerful weapon at this point. An offer of $25,000, made at the outset of the allegations of wrongful dismissal, was vigorously denied. She had an extremely six figure-ish number in mind.
In the discoveries room, I was not surprised to see her looking her best, wearing a beautiful dress, hair perfect. Funny that I purposely dressed myself down. I did not want to trigger a loaded bomb. I knew she was insecure. I did not need to add to it. Never before had I looked into someone’s eyes and seen such darkness. I imagine that I physically gasped, it shocked me. I knew her eyes were blue but they were black pools of energy that day, like a wounded wild animal before me. She was fighting for her survival.
There were 3 pitchers of water sitting on the table. I felt energy surging into my body. I was shaking. I felt the hatred directed towards me. It was so physical, like I was plugged into an electrical generator. I started pouring myself water, drinking glass after glass. I went through two pitchers by the end. It was not even that long. Her lawyer was a piece of work. We found out he could be categorized as rogue by many. Funny how a person can find what they are looking for. Our lawyer felt that it would have been very hard to find a lawyer to represent her case with the facts as they were. Somehow she managed to find one.
The questions posed to me were pretty petty stuff. She wanted to bring out formally any uncertainties that I may have had. Loved that I could clearly see it for what it was. My imperfection was neither here nor there to the case. I am honest to a fault so it was easy to answer the questions. I am never afraid to say I don’t know, that is for sure. Was a bit blindsided when it came out that they had requested notes from our Accountant. I had not read every page as I was only newly exposed to the binders full of stuff. I had collected some thoughts looking for solutions to the Flora problem months prior. I shared them with my buddy and our Accountant. I was shocked to see them in the binder. They partly involved my question of her salary. Ha ha! That one must have been a big experience for her. Most big financial decisions went through me…except her salary somehow. Let us say it was generous. Love a generous man but… My thoughts were to bring her salary in line with a nurse. Her expertise was in the field. She was credentialed as an optical technician – I forget the exact title now. I have a pet peeve with credentials so I had no problem paying premium for a premium person. I knew she had that potential – saw the jewel remember? My brainstorming wanted to bring into the discussion a much needed reference point in negotiating a win:win solution. The large salary had some assumptions that were not playing out in reality. Sometimes truth is not appreciated. Living in la la land is way more fun for everyone. I love how I think! That document was a heartwrenching attempt to assist a solution. I was so used to working behind the scenes. Felt off balance by seeing such a private work out of context of its intent in the hands of Flora in this way.
I chose to share this petty stuff…but the best part was yet to come. OK this would look a lot better in movie format, believe me. At the end of this harrowing lambasting experience, loaded with four litres of water, I felt a deep calm come over me. I had the floor. I looked across the table into those dark vengeful eyes and said, “Flora, I have so much compassion for you.” It felt so good to say this. I felt love emanating out of me but knew to say so would not be well received at this moment. Time stood still. My buddy’s lawyer, Jason, dramatically swiveled his chair ninety degrees to face me, his mouth wide open. Nobody else made motion but energetic pause… I put my hand on my buddy’s shoulder as a gesture of love and support…and left the room with my head held high. It was not the words, it was the energy. Coolest experience ever! If I lived a boring vanilla life, I would have missed the opportunity to learn what I was capable of. My belief is that our Soul knows this. We set up these spicy experiences to discover how big we really are. Why do we ride rollercoasters? Some rides are more thrilling than others. This was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I would never have guessed it prior to living it.
Little snippet memory, for the movie ( ha ha): My buddy and I went back to my house following the Discovery meeting.
We sat down at the kitchen table. I had nothing to say. Quite rare. We just sat in silence for a while. He said he was sorry. He emanated sorry. Deep gratitude arose for my support during this trying time. I felt the sincerity and authenticity of it. Felt so good to hear it. To feel it. To know it. He really would have pushed back the hands of time to spare me this experience. Again, I wonder if he took on too much of the responsibility. Not the healthiest for him. I played a role too. I traced back a seed of greed at the start of the quagmire. Shared by all the players in the triangle. That is all I have to say about that.
As I have reflected on this challenge, I see Flora as a Soulmate. Without this dramatic state of affairs, I would have remained connected to the social contract marriage is for life. I will be forever Grateful to her. I understand her. She is intuitive as I am. She knew our marriage was done. I do not blame her for wanting to explore romance with someone who shared her passion. I knew of their close friendship. I never felt insecure by it. I had friends tell me to insist he fire her…long before this whole thing blew up. Why? If he wants to be with her, let me know so I can find someone else who will appreciate me. By the end, he was just someone who kept me from my own company. He was so unavailable to me. I always had the freedom to take matters into my own hands. It was my connection to the collective belief system that I perceive stalled the actions and choices that would have served my highest good much earlier. Clarity must be present to make your highest choices. It is pretty challenging to be certain of clarity when you are in the situation often times. In its own timing, clarity comes. Then you act. No big. If you are slow to recognize what needs to be done, the Universe just turns up the drama for you so you can take notice. That is all it is. Thanks Universe! Alternate translation: Thanks God! Another translation: Thanks Self! You got my attention now. I will get on this then.
I am pretty intuitive. I have come to recognize that the reason I was unable to detect the truth of the situation was because my buddy denied the truth so effectively.
If he felt it, I would have detected it. He sequestered his own feelings or memories of feelings for Flora so successfully, he kept it away from his intuitive wife. To me that was the saddest part. Maybe the three Souls wrote it this way. It played out perfectly for each of the three players. Authenticity rules in my world. Why would I want to chain up/imprison someone? That is not love. I want Love.
That is why I am always surprised when I hear of the drama that people find themselves in when one partner is unfaithful to the other. If we were more honest as a society, we would enable conscious uncoupling instead of hanging onto the antiquated feeling that a couple should stay together at all costs. Hogwash!
Two days following my deep energetic love and compassion experience in discoveries, I received an email from Flora. My translation: She saw my compassion as a weakness and thought she would exploit it. She was sweet… in a Thelma and Louise kind of way. She wanted to tag team together with me and take my buddy down. She had an argument that he treated us both so badly. I agreed to myself that he did treat us both less than ideally and quite similarly. He wanted to maintain his control over both of us. Not sure how conscious it was but I believe we were both powerful women who had choices of our own to make too. I was left feeling one third responsibility to each of us.
My response to her was that I would be happy to debrief with her after the legal case was completed. I would welcome it, but it did not surprise me when she did not follow up on my offer. I see us talking amicably somewhere down the line – like two comrades looking back to the war. I see her beautiful humanity…still.
Cannot remember the details but worth noting that it was getting to crunch time in the case. She was asking for six figures, we had offered $25K. Would we go to court? A decision was to be made. Jason, the lawyer, gave his advice which would have landed us in court. I summed up the situation: from my perspective this was a lot more about a lover scorned than a wrongful dismissal. Her intuition and mine were sent spinning like compasses at the North Pole by my buddy’s incongruent actions over the years. What he felt did not match what he said and did. Somehow the two ladies knew it. I tapped in, to I don’t know what, but very confidently recommended that my buddy write her an email and apologize as authentically as he could. He is a gifted writer, I reminded him. She is smart. To be effective it would have to be authentic. Lawyer did not like that idea: beware authentic communication. Jason was pointedly advising against emailing her directly. My buddy recognized that I was his biggest supporter in this difficulty. He was reluctant. Daring to defy legal counsel and take the advice of a woman who wanted the very best for him and a divorce simultaneously, he chose to take my advice. I delivered my counsel with peace and calm. I let go any attachment to whether he took it or not. I knew it was the highest course of action. His writing that apology meant a lot to me…still does. I think he understood my gifts. Gift of being human that is. Maybe just garden variety intuition but a great example where credentials can get in the way of the best action. I hold a strong belief that good communication skills – transparency, honesty, authenticity – and taking responsibility for your actions would make the entire Legal system obsolete. Sounds simple, right? A day after sending, I felt a click -do not know how to describe it. I informed my buddy, it was over. So cool. I felt it. I was certain. She would settle now. He received notice the next day.
Our little legal escapade landed less than $20K, I may have forgotten the detail here, in Flora’s pocket. Her lawyer made about $90,000. Good for him!
If she had been capable of gaining perspective on her unfortunate situation and taken her share of the responsibility, she might have experienced a very different result – maybe even avoiding the emotional ordeal altogether. Remember Otto? He saw the writing on the wall in the first months. What was different between Otto and Flora? Affairs of the heart I guess.
I am not even sure how her life went from there. I do hope for the best for her. Life has its challenges. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this with her someday.
Moral of the story: Authentic, transparent communication can create miracles… Try it!
Addendum: As I wrote this, I was reminded of a quote that had a big impact on me during that time. I have been unsuccessful in tracking it down. It was something about how you can love anyone. The capacity for love is within yourself. It rang true to me and resulted in the years long lag in definitively deciding to end my marriage. I optimistically searched within myself for what was lacking.
I thought about that a lot. I took it to mean that until you have yourself sorted out, you will be unable to love another. If you get to a place of balanced self-love, you will be able to love anyone. Because all you need comes from within you. So I was waiting around in my marriage with the intention of transforming myself and thus the marriage simultaneously. I was calling in my buddy all the while. I was slow to notice that he was not on board with this. He was not interested in taking action or making change. He was so busy so things just stayed the same for him. I kept taking responsibility all by myself for the marriage thinking I just had to get my own act together and everything would fall into place. I did not hold him accountable to his choices for a long time. Eventually, I noticed him choosing not to change. I took it as a challenge, not unlike my Medical patients. How do I inspire him to be his best, most balanced self? He did not share that dream. Wondering if what I saw in him was just my own qualities. When I kept feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest, the sham of my marriage could not be ignored any longer. Like in Medical practice: spitting into the wind. Parting ways was authentic. Love was not missing, it was more like how I love a relative.
2nd Moral of the Story: You can only change yourself. Spending time trying to influence the change of others is spitting into the wind. Fun by some people’s standards. There is a time to stay and a time to go. Your feelings will point the way…
June 19, 2017
I have a short update to add here:
This past Christmas, I received a long letter from Flora sent via Facebook message. The pertinent feelings she described that I feel are relevant to include.
1. She wanted me to know how much I harmed her. It was still present to her over 5 years following the events.
2. She was making the best of a bad situation. Expressing how hard it is being a divorced woman. Despite the fact that she had a long term boyfriend in her life. Her words I imagined could hurt her current partner. Somehow, she still gave the impression of being in “survival mode”.
She ended with some anticipation that I would reject her expressing herself.
I answered her promptly. Right away, I addressed my feeling that her truth was as valid as mine. I reflected that I was sad to learn she still carried those feelings. I saw them as disempowering yet I did not write that.
I shared with her that I enjoyed being single. I felt it was authentic for me so far.
I finished by sharing with her that I fully accept 1/3 of the responsibility, not the 100% she gave to my parenting partner and I.
This was our first interaction since the dramatic events.
Otto had children with the same marriage partner of that time. A Psychiatrist.
He chose the same French Immersion School that I (we) did.
So I had many fun conversations with him over the years.
He drove past my house a couple of weeks ago. It was clarified that a couple of years ago, he moved to a home a block away from my own.
This recent conversation was very connecting and authentic.
The topic of Flora came up. He shared how he spent many hours back at the time putting together arguments (sharing them with my parenting partner) in how letting Flora go would benefit the Eye Centre. News to me. Otto and Flora working together pre-dates the Eye Centre by years.
We have now vowed to collaborate more in the near future as we discovered are current passions have a lot of overlap. When I shared my passion to upgrade the Psychiatric System, he wondered if his wife would be interested.
I chose to send a link for them both for my reporter-styled story about Peer-Assisted Open Dialogue, up and running in England. I have a working relationship with the lead Psychiatrist, Russell Razzaque. I call myself an International expert on how to enable and empower people experiencing psychological/psychiatric distress and crisis.
Years of following my curiosity has allowed ideas about solutions to find me.
I shared a lighthearted dream that I wanted to collaborate with Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. I feel an opportunity exists to save millions of dollars in providing Healthcare. By empowering individuals to “do it themselves” as much as possible. Take the burden off over-whelmed caregivers.
Turns out, Otto, went to Boarding School in Montréal with …
Anyone want to guess?
Amazing that I was only learning this fact days before my trip to France.
It is in France that I write this update.
It is relevant to experiences I am having here.
There is a Miracle in this.
My translation of miracle: truth not yet optimally perceived.
I focus on being my authentic self.
I will find out where that takes me.