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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Cried In Public Last Sunday

For those of you who know me personally, I tend to shun the touchy-feely stuff. I loathe telenovelas with their long, drawn-out scenes which always ends up in caterwauling, hand wringing and the obligatory slapping scene.

So this public show of emotion took even me by surprise.

How the public display came about: I was giving some documents at the office when my new boss - a woman you don't really think of saying No to - saw me from the corner of her eye and hollered, "Joey! I signed you up for a 2 day self-discovery seminar! I'm paying so you're going!"

Oh, yes. The eye-rolling quickly commenced - in my head, of course. But the admission price was hefty, and Arthur has been to one of these things and came back feeling much better about himself, so I did the unthinkable: I actually told myself to surrender to the process and "get with it."

It was an eye opener. In ways I did not intend nor forsee.

The facilitators certainly knew what they wanted to achieve: getting everyone to drop down their defenses, get in touch with your feelings, which are intertwined with events in your past. On the second day of the seminar, we formed small groups to open up about something that has remained unresolved in our lives.

And so, I address this to you, my friend.

We had a good run, all of 18 years.

When we first met, we had serious body issues, and getting rid of our excess physical baggage became the one thing that made our bond stable. We were suffering, we were in pain sweating it out, but because we were in it together, we empathized, we cursed and laughed about all the perfect bodies we were so envious of.

And we found out we had an affinity for the arts. Literature, films, music, we exchanged so much of our personal libraries that it expanded our minds and deepened our bond.

So much time spent being the recipient of fat jokes has honed our snarky repartee, and we bounced off each other (pun intended) so well that the bullies felt we were the bullies: mind over matter, always.

But when we started working together, the dynamics changed.

It became clear that you intended to prove how right you were, and how wrong I was, supposedly, in every situation that you could do so. And because I was never one to let the mistaken party have the final say, you did the only thing you could: you pulled rank on me.

You would shoot down any ideas I had.

You would set a meeting, then change the venue when I was at the agreed time and place.

You used your position to get the best slots, displacing other employees, then dared me to remove or reprimand you. As if that was even an option to do to someone who regularly flaunted his position and rank.

But when you suddenly changed the area I was assigned to - with no good reason, no explanation, just because you could - and you did this in front of the person who we used to speak so lowly of but who has somehow become your confidant - I could see the beginning of the end.

And when this confidant - who you imbued with authority over me, someone who we used to laugh at, someone who once called me a bully because I used English in our memos - used an out-of-work, unrelated incident to end my working contract, you were nowhere to be found.

You washed your hands off the incident.

When clients came to you, to ask my whereabouts and why I suddenly "left", you even feigned surprise, and said that you didn't know what happened, and that you would talk to me to get to the bottom of the matter.

Something you never did. You never called, you never attempted to reach out. All the while maintaining this "I'm doing all that I can" facade in front of clients.

Which isn't really a surprise, because in our last heated, work related conversation, you verbalized it this way: working together has been bad for our friendship.

I have waited for more than a year for you to own up to your part in all of this. You never did.

As I was relaying this in the seminar, I suddenly felt tears well up, then start to fall. It was the fact that it was unresolved that made it so much worse. That you were fine with leaving things the way we left them. I was seized first with embarrassment in front of the group, but finally being able to verbalize my long held frustration just felt...freeing.

So the tears did fall. And this is what I learned, and I now know.

Our part in each other's lives is over. And rather than be sad, I've decided to be grateful for whatever joy we have shared, and the lessons that you imparted when we reached the end.

People can either be a blessing, or a lesson. You have been both to me.

(Courtesy of

It is time for me to let it go, in order for the new to come into my life. I have made peace with this, and maybe that is the biggest lesson you taught me.

We can let go once the lesson is learned.

And now, onwards and upwards.