Posted by: Marie | October 28, 2014

(956) Deep conversations

Post #956
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, September 6, 2012]

So, first off . . . an update on the ant situation . . .

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, the ants had moved their superhighway over a couple feet to avoid the cinnamon. So, it didn’t stop them, it just caused them to have to travel a bit further.

After some pondering, I decided that I needed to apply more cinnamon . . . my hope was to make it such a pain for them to walk all the way around the cinnamon that they would decide it was not worth the few crumbs they might find.

First, I moved the microwave and carefully cleaned the area all around it, then I put the microwave back in its place. Then, I sprayed a huge section of the wall around the window with water mist and sprinkled all of the cinnamon that was remaining in the bottle onto the wall – the bottle had been almost full when I started – so I ended up with a whole lot on the wall.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I could see that they had moved their superhighway over a few more feet, but they were still committed to the job of hauling microscopic crumbs back to their nest. Apparently, cinnamon is not the answer.

So, going against my preference, I bought poison ant traps and put them out. I was worried about the cat eating the traps, but he wasn’t at all interested in them – that’s good. I’ve decided that spraying poison is not an option since the cat would surely get into the spray . . . and I don’t want to be breathing it . . . so traps seemed the best solution.


Photo by Martin Chen

This evening (Thursday), I can see that there are many, many ants walking in and out of the traps. It seems they really like the poison. The idea is that they will carry the poison back to their colony, which should kill off the entire colony within a few days. I’ll believe it when I see it . . . it’s been more than 24 hours since I put out the traps and I swear there are more ants than before . . . I’m thinking the entire colony has invaded my room . . . and they all look very alive and very healthy. I guess we’ll see what happens . . .

Fortunately, they haven’t ventured much beyond that one area. There’ve been only a few times that I’ve woken up to a solitary ant walking across my face or on my arm.


Today, I had a lesson with Jeff, the psychiatrist. We always take a bit of time before his lesson for general chit-chat. So, today, I told him a bit about my frustrations around my relationship with Melodie. I told him that I do value her, and that I value the history we have together. I told him about how much I struggled to be around her this weekend and how disconnected from her I feel . . . how little in common we seem to have now.

I told him about the times I’ve tried sharing meaningful experiences with her . . . she listens, she seems to understand what I’m saying, and she empathizes . . . but she has nothing from that level of meaningfulness to share about her own life experiences. I think she simply doesn’t operate at that level.

I told him about the conversation I had with her concerning suicide and how she had asked me if I would call her if I ever got to that point . . . and how my answer had been that I wouldn’t since calling someone for support would derail my intended plans. Jeff said he totally could see how it is most likely I would not ask for help or tell anyone, that I would just go do it.

I’m sure he was listening carefully to my words to determine if I was at risk for suicide right now . . . and I assume it is obvious to him that I’m not at serious risk of that right now.

Anyway, I told him about the trip Melodie and I are planning for two years from now (Labor Day 2014) and how I cannot imagine not making these trips with her . . . I think it is good for me to take vacation time, and I’m not sure I would take it otherwise. And, I can’t imagine her not being a part of my life. That led to a discussion of what he and I value in friends and partners . . .

So, this evening, I’ve been reflecting on my conversation with Jeff. I am struck by how much I enjoy talking with him about meaningful topics – deep topics. I truly cherish those conversations and I cherish what he contributes. He often says things that give me fuel for later pondering. We’ve talked politics, religion, music, how each of us has recently begun to identify as musicians and writers, how we’ve both worked towards emotional healing . . . lots of different meaningful topics . . .

I’ve had similar conversations with other people, including James and Cindy, and other adult students . . . with my friends from the conscious business networking group . . .

And yet I don’t have that with Melodie.

I’m vacillating between wanting to totally bail and wanting to preserve the relationship but in a limited way . . . it’s not like I spend much time on our friendship . . . I talk to her for an hour on the phone every six or eight weeks, and then we do this trip every two years. It’s not a big time investment . . . I think what I do have with her is worth that much of my time and energy. And, I can’t imagine I’ll ever get to the point where I’d just cut her off and tell her I want nothing more to do with her . . . she doesn’t deserve that.

I think I’m okay with the level it is right now. I think I’ll just continue status quo.

But, all of this is causing me to realize how much I value deeper connections. I think it would be prudent of me, going forward, to be careful about with whom I cultivate friendships. I can afford to be selective. And, I think that would apply to a romantic partnership, as well . . . I can afford to be selective there, too . . . actually, I can’t afford NOT to be selective there.

Anyway, on a related side note, I called Ardis in Red Cloud on Tuesday and reserved their rental house for two years from now. Ardis laughed and said she would be sure to tell her daughter since there is no guarantee that she will be alive in two years from now . . . at least her daughter will know our plans, either way . . .

I passed along that bit of news to Melodie via email and she responded that she is on-board with that plan. So, I guess we’ll return to Red Cloud in 2014!


On Tuesday, I had a lesson with Renee. Since she came straight from school, she didn’t have an adult with her. I hadn’t had a meaningful conversation with her in weeks, so I felt it was appropriate to allow her to “just talk” for the first half of her 45-minute lesson. It seemed she needed to talk, and I felt a need to check in with her to see how she is doing, in general. And, I think doing so will help develop her trust in me.

She started off by telling me she suspects that her step-dad is having an affair and she thinks it is her fault. Now, I’ve watched a lot of Dr. Phil over the years . . . he always says that kids have the unique ability to make everything their fault even when it clearly is not. So, with Dr. Phil’s words in the back of my mind, I asked her how it would be her fault . . .

Renee: I don’t know . . . maybe because I’m not really part of the family . . .

Me: What do you mean when you say you aren’t part of the family . . . ??

Renee: Well, I isolate and I don’t try to be part of the family . . . I just stay in my room when I’m at my mom’s house . . . maybe if I tried to be part of the family, then he might want to be part of the family.

Me: Renee, let me be really, really clear with you . . . adults make their own choices . . . how they choose to behave has nothing to do with you . . . they have the choice to respond to any situation in a healthy way or in an unhealthy way . . . we all have to decide how we are going to respond to life situations, and how we respond is our own responsibility.

It’s not okay for him to have an affair. If he is having an affair, that is his choice. Nothing you could do could make it your fault. He’s going to do what he’s going to do. He has a choice of responding to whatever you do in a responsible way or an irresponsible way, but that choice is his own.

And, furthermore, you are the kid here. They are the adults. So, if there is an issue around how the family is operating, it is their job to figure out how to fix it and to talk to you about it. It’s not your job. And his behavior is not your fault. You cannot cause him to have an affair and you can’t prevent it. It is not something you can control.


Me: So, what do you hear me saying?

Renee: That I’m not responsible for what he does . . . and that me isolating is not the reason he’s having an affair . . . or might be having an affair . . .

Me: That’s right . . . it’s not your fault.

She thought about all of that for a moment, and she nodded . . . and then, she sat up a little straighter and her eyes lit up . . . and she took the conversation onto a new topic . . .

She told me that she is proud of her mom for staying sober for a whole month . . . and she is proud of her 12-year-old guy friend at school for staying clean for two months. She told me about how she met this guy over the summer through Facebook, and how he had had a really rough life. I asked if he was talking to the therapist at school and she said he was . . . it sounds like he is getting some much needed help.

I asked Renee if she was seeing the school therapist now that school is back in session. (She hadn’t been seeing a therapist over the summer.) She said no. When I pressed for a reason why not, she just shrugged . . . I asked if she was seeing a therapist outside of school . . . again, she said no. So, that concerns me . . .

Anyway, after talking for about 25 minutes, I stated that we should turn our focus to the matter of music. She laughed and agreed . . .

She jumped right into the lesson material . . . I didn’t see hide nor hair of her helpless act. And that is a big deal. I’m so tickled.

We worked on a piece of pop music that she really likes. I showed her how to do the chording for it and she caught on quite quickly. I told her that it would be easier to sing the melody line rather than trying to play the melody line while also playing chords . . . and I invited her to try it . . .

She giggled . . . and she told me that she is capable of singing . . . and that she thinks she sings quite well . . . but that she didn’t want to sing in front of me, at least not this time. She giggled again and told me that she would sing to herself inside her head. I assured her that was fine . . . and I let her know that I would be tickled to hear her sing, should she ever be willing to allow me to experience that . . . she giggled again . . . she seemed pleased that I was interested in her singing . . .

We ended on a playful, fun, lighthearted note. It was a good lesson and a good exchange . . . I’m really proud of her progress!

Quotes 027


  1. I wonder whether you have decided to let Melodie go…or if your relationship with her has been transformed in the time since you wrote this. I have to say, if I’d been on that trip with her, I would have driven to the nearest airport, bought her a plane ticket home, and to hell with it. But then, I’m notably impatient.

    I so enjoy reading about your interactions with your young students…they are very lucky to have you.

  2. …this also made me think of the number of unrewarding friendships I have tried to kill off, and I swear to God, they’re like zombies…they just keep coming to life, determined to feast on me for sustenance. It’s an amazingly awkward thing, to outgrow a friendship.

    • I find it an interesting process to recognize that I’ve grown so much that my friendship with Melodie no longer fits me well . . it’s like a kid who doesn’t feel he’s growing until one day his shoes are too tight.

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