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It’s weird what makes us hurt…

     So, a few years ago, I met a gorgeous woman in New York. She was not just beautiful, but very successful (she designed one of the HBO logos and about half the logos for the best NY restaurants) and she was NICE. Funny, smart, honest and nice. At first I was a bit intimidated; she was that perfect. I had never met anyone before, and I do have some wealthy friends, who had a personal shopper. Then one day over lunch, she confessed that she had been the ugly duckling. Her mother called her "the mouse." She admitted to having had her hair straightened, her teeth fixed, her boobs enlarged, nose shortened and she'd lost sixty pounds ten years ago and with strict dieting kept them off. She spent over two hundred dollars a month just on makeup. She told me that she finally liked herself and that she no longer thought of herself as a mouse. About a year after this lunch, she met HIM. He was perfect: blond, rich, well-educated and seemed to adore her. She called me giggling like a school girl one morning. He was in the shower and she was eating strawberries and drinking champagne at the Essex House overlooking Central Park. She was in love. Then, soon after, the magic seemed to end. His calls were less and less. The excuses got more and more lame, less and less likely. One night, this amazingly glamorous woman, in disguise (boy's baseball cap, hair up, large guy's jacket) followed him and watched him enter and exit a building with a woman on his arm. She had suspected this, but what surprised her was that the woman was plain, nothing remarkable. They walked a few blocks to Third Avenue. She followed from across the street and followed them into a movie theater. Sitting a few rows behind, she watched them neck and paw at each other throughout the whole movie. She called him the next morning. She did not admit to following him, she said, instead, "I was at a movie theater last night and saw you with that woman. I have to ask: why? What did I lack?What was wrong?" He was quiet for a moment and finally asked, "Do you really want to know?" She was frantic to know. She had finally become the woman she had dreamed of being as a child called "the mouse." She was beautiful, smart, successful. Why had this man strayed? He said, "She gives great head." 

     I an NOT making this up. Another woman told me that although she had three graduate degrees and was one of the youngest women ever to be a professor at Princeton, she still got horribly jealous when her husband looked at another, usually younger, woman. "I can complete with anyone intellectually, but how can I compete with firm thighs?" I had a professor at Fordham who was brilliant, handsome and was lucky enough to be married to a beautiful woman. He had two sons. His students, me included, adored him. But, he had had polio as a child and was in a wheelchair. He told me once, "I know how blessed I am. My wife is wonderful and she loves me. My boys are a joy. I love my work and enjoy my students. Then I see someone run." I never forgot his words. BECAUSE: like fears,  what hurts us is often things that one would not expect. I had not expected my friend's boyfriend to admit he went out with another woman because she gave "good head. "

     I know I am blessed. I got a father's day card because my oldest son wanted me to know how much he appreciated me having been both "mom and dad." I love my kids. I love my grand kids and they love me. I am blessed with the greatest, smartest, most loving and supportive friends ever. They overwhelm me with their emotional gifts and support. There is always someone on the other end of the phone for me. How lucky is that? I adore the kids I work with, the women I encourage, the parents I teach. I finished three books this year! I am going "home" to NY and this is thrilling to me. SO? What hurts? I am naive enough (and, yes, it is strange having spent most of my life in Manhattan and I am both book smart and street smart) to still believe things should be fair. So, what hurts me? When I see people with no expertise, no credentials, no real emotions pretending to be an expert, pretending compassion, pretending to identify and relate to those of us who have struggled or are struggling...and watching people buy it. That is what hurts. Not that these people sell the pretense, but that others buy it.

     Before joining a group, buying into a mentoring program, paying for a workshop, agreeing to a sponsor, ask yourself: What does this person know? Are they also dealing with single parenthood? Have they had money problems? Do they have a special needs child? Have they had alcohol or drug addiction in their family? Have they ever been abused? Can they begin to understand what it might mean to have your home in foreclosure? Did they finish graduate school? Did they ever have a real job or have they been supported all their lives? Do they have degrees in what they are supposed to be an expert in? What training have they had to be a teacher? A mentor? Is it all platitudes? Is there substance behind the pretty colors? I don't like pretense. I don't like phony. It actually hurts me to see people fooled.

     I can rationalize. Just like my wonderful professor. He felt hurt seeing people run. My dear friend in NY lost a boyfriend by a woman that had a special "talent." We have all felt envious of others. BUT, I want to feel envy regarding someone's wisdom and success. I love when someone I know is successful because they are smart and talented and have worked hard. When I see people who have not worked, have not earned it, have learned the "tricks" of putting together a pretty package, it bothers me. For all of us who have worked at it, have "been there" and "done that" and who have paid our dues and then some, it hurts. I love the success of my friends. When I see Marianna's handsome husband, I think: Oh, good. There are some out there. When my wonderful Louise can make over a hundred dollars an hour doing her special reading course, I love that she is so good at what she does. What I am saying here is not about begrudging others for being successful. What hurts is for those who offer little, but wrap it in ribbons and smiles and platitudes. You, the "audience"  deserve more. Shell out for the real stuff. There are so many people who have so much to offer. Contact me and I will tell you about Jan and about Kim and all the other "magical" people who really give you what you need and then some. Beware of the others. It hurts. So many of us have worked so hard to be who we are. Then there are those who come along and buy a niche and proclaim themselves experts. If you go to a doctor, you would expect a degree. If you go to an attorney, you expect them to have passed the bar. Your coaches, should be well trained. They should not be allowed to put up a shingle and say: I am an expert. It is unfair to those who worked for it and earned it and really have something to share and to teach. For me: that hurts.

 

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