Being mute on matters of the heart | AspenTimes.com

Being mute on matters of the heart

Alison Berkley
Aspen, CO Colorado

When it comes to matters of heart, I’ve learned it’s best to keep your mouth shut.

Like the other day, I get this cryptic text message from my friend Sunny that says, “emergency therapy needed pls call.”

By the time I catch up with her, it’s a few days later and the so-called emergency already has resolved itself. She’d hooked up with a 20-year old guy who was staying at her place in Park City. At 35, Sunny’s on the fast track to becoming a cougar as her youngest-guy-I’d-sleep-with age continues to drop.

I don’t have a problem with that. Sunny’s been through the ringer and hasn’t quite recovered from getting divorced six months into her first marriage when she found out her husband, a photographer, had been having an affair with a model since before they got married.

I can understand why she’d want to stay safe, and what can be safer than hooking up with boys who aren’t even old enough to go to the bars? It’s not like she’s going to fall in love with this child, never mind have a relationship that lasts longer than 10 minutes. I’d much rather see her have fun and stay in control than run headlong into another disastrous relationship. Sunny has a way of running headlong into everything she does, a tornado of energy that spins so fast and furious she tends to leave a trail of destruction in her wake. She reminds me of one of those little lap dogs that turn vicious and never stop barking as soon as their owners turn around.

I’ve got the whole positive spin lecture playing out in my head, but before I even have a chance to deliver it, she says, “It doesn’t matter, though. I’m in love.”

“What?” I reply, struggling to maintain an even, nonjudgmental tone.

“Kai flew down here to see me.”

“The Costa Rica guy?” I ask.

“No, the one I had the amazing connection with who my Dad loved,” she said, her speech fast and flurried like she was on some serious speed.

“The sports agent from L.A.?” It really is hard to keep track.

“No! The one I met at the Spirit Quest in Montana. The one I told you about?”

Right. How could I forget? She’d found him on a ride board in Seattle where she’d been visiting her dad before the two-week long silent meditation retreat. It’s almost impossible trying to imagine Sunny staying silent for two weeks, but what’s even more impossible is trying to understand how she could manage to meet a guy at a silent retreat. I don’t know how many hours it was between Seattle and Montana, but in Sunny’s world, it’s more than enough to live seven lives. Her chatter alone was probably enough fuel to get them there. She could power entire villages with her tireless dialogue.

We met over 10 years ago when we were both hired at the same time as the first women on an all-male staffed magazine in Southern California. Within minutes, she was in my lap, her arms wrapped around my neck screaming, “You’re my best friend!” It all started to make sense when I learned she was raised on a hippie commune in Canada and attended clothing optional school. Her sense of boundaries are outside of the box, so to speak.

I listened as she tirelessly explained how she and Kai forged this amazing connection, and she believed it was love at first sight. I gently told her I thought the fact that he hadn’t broken up with his girlfriend yet was a bit of a red flag. Then I listened some more as she rationalized her way through that the way someone might drive in the breakdown lane in rush hour traffic.

I bit my tongue. “It sounds amazing. I’m glad you’re happy,” is all I said.

I know I don’t want to hear it when I’m in deep, having already jumped out of the plane with a broken parachute, so why should she? I always say a girlfriend’s only job is to be there to pick up the pieces. As hard as it is, there’s not much you can do to prevent the glass from shattering. Even the strongest, most sensible women I know turn into complete morons when it comes to their choices with men.

I have this other friend, Heather, who also suffered a really bad divorce. She’s the one who found out after seven years of marriage that her husband, a nurse, was addicted to pain medication. He went to rehab only to fall in love and relocate to some ranch in Northern California with his new bride.

So it’s understandable Heather is not exactly in a good way when it comes to relationships. For the last year, she’s been bouncing back and forth between two extremely flawed men who are both madly in love with her. Every few months I get the call that she’s back with Man 1 and is madly in love with him and finally realized Man 2 is all wrong for her, or vice versa.

After the fourth or fifth round of this, it was hard to keep my mouth shut. First she was constantly on the phone with Man 1 during her last visit to Colorado and then texting back and forth with Man 2 throughout our entire dinner at a nice restaurant in New York.

But again, I keep my opinions to myself for the most part, offering gentle advice and support where I think she needs it. When it comes to women and their relationships with men, it’s kind of like when she asks you, “Do I look fat in this?” Your choices are this: Lie or say nothing at all.


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