advice not taken

Some time ago, a woman wrote to annalog

and in her note she referred to the difficulties she had had with her two sons since her marriage broke down and I responded sympathetically.  She wrote to me and I replied for the next year.  Why ?  Because she was lonely and I had time. 

 Almost from the off, you could sense loads of other stuff lying under the emotional water.  

There was a great deal which preceded where she was up to now and that wasn’t what she wanted to talk about.   She was not, as far as I could work out, a liar or a fantasist, any more than many of us who wish to have things perceived as we perceive them.  

But why did she marry the boys’ father ?  And why after all this time was she so afraid of him ?  Why was his mother, like her own, disagreeable to her ?  And the sons were not children, the older was in his early 20s, the younger in his late teens.  And she meant it when she said she had had difficulties with them, from her parting with her husband years ago, who had a big affair, left taking every moveable cent and married the other woman.   The boys sided with him although by her account he rarely had them to stay and didn’t spend much time with them.  The sons never came to terms with her

or she with them

At the time of her writing, she had met someone and thought she might move in with him.  The older son had a girlfriend but wanted to be able to use the family home at will and her younger son, offered a room in the house of this new man, threw a violent tantrum, punched his bedroom door and broke furniture. The former family home was her settlement after the divorce.

There was a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing: her father wasn’t well, she worried about friction at her place of work, she mourned that the boys were disrespectful to her and disagreeable to the man, living with whom appealed ever more – himself divorced with children.  I never heard mention of anyone else.

The younger son’s school asked to see the parents but his father was unwilling to be involved.  The girlfriend of the older boy didn’t want to have him living with her.   It was wonderful to go away with Man Number Two  – but she had to come back.  And upon her return the house was foul, her sons had had friends in, they had got drunk, thrown up and left the mess.  What should she do ? 

Larry Preston’s painting

I said  talk to the police if they have time, or get a solicitor, I don’t know enough law to be helpful.   She wanted them out of there, she wanted to rent or sell the house.   But she couldn’t put the two pieces together.   She knew the house was her only real asset and that it was being devalued – but shied away from confrontation.

You see, you wouldn’t get this far in radio or on what used to be called the problem pages because you’d hear just so much, respond to that and it would be gone.  I opened a door but in order to have  got anywhere, I would have had to get further involved.   There were discrepancies,

tiny mismatches, that bothered me, and information I couldn’t get to.

So I took a position and made the kindest and most honest end I could.  You’d have thought I had at her with the kitchen knife !   But she couldn’t manage how could she , she never meant to misinform me, she was a truthful person, what was she to do ?   But I would say unkindly, she did know what to do.  She didn’t want to do it.    

She has written twice, once to tell me how terrible she feels.  I didn’t feel wonderful myself.  And once to tell me her partner is out of work, the house is being wrecked and so on. Predictably. Sometimes it is just horrible to be right.  

 P.S.  and how else to say – goodbye, good luck, get on with it.  That door I opened ?  It is closed.       

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