Long Car Rides And Journaling Brings Clarity

Several days passed and I hadn’t heard from Esther. She had a lot to consider. I resisted the temptation to call her. My inner voice kept repeating that Esther was safe and that the decisions she faced needed time. An impulsive decision wouldn’t have my endorsement.

Two days later, an early morning call displayed a familiar telephone number. I answered and heard Esther’s voice.

“Good morning Marshall. May I come see you? I’ve been writing since I left your office. I need to let go of some things I’ve been holding on to.” We made an appointment for noon that day. I suppose missing a lunch date with a friend would be OK.

Esther arrived on this warm summer day with her sunglasses atop her head, makeup, a summer dress and comfortable-looking shoes. Her eyes showed only remnants of puffiness. Her hair was styled smartly.

“So, Esther, you mentioned something about writing,” I said. “Will you elaborate, please?”

“Well, Marshall, I taught English and encouraged journaling to my students,” she said. “I decided to do some journaling myself. I used to do it and stopped.”

“When did you stop, Esther? Anything you can recall?” I asked.

Esther thought for a moment. “You know, I may need time to recollect that period and the timing of my stoppage,” she said.

“Okay, what have the past few days been like for you?”

“When I left your office I went for a drive,” she began. “I kept on driving. The longer I drove, my body seemed to relax. I stopped at a motel, checked in and got some takeout food from a local restaurant. I called my friends and told them not to worry. I needed to be alone. They understood. I bought a journal from another store and started to write. Next thing I knew it was light out. I had practically filled the journal. I was on fire. I sat up in bed and read my entries. I felt a purging experience. I still basically felt the same, yet less anxious. I crashed and awoke about 2 p.m. Strange, that’s the soundest sleep I’ve had in a long time.”

“I went for a walk,” she continued, “and found this cute little cafe. Few people were there. It was between lunch and dinner. I was famished. I ate delicious country cooking and treated myself to homemade pie. The folks were friendly. No one initiated conversation. Guess maybe my vibe said I’m hungry and not in the mood for small talk. I got in my car and continued to drive. Around 6 or 7 p.m. I checked into another small-town motel, ate a light meal at a restaurant and returned to my room. I wrote more in another journal book I bought earlier. I crashed, got up the next day, called my friends who’d been worried. I headed back to their home. My anxiety level was waning. It was the best I felt in a long time.”

After finished, and I replied. “What a remarkable story, Esther. Did your journal entries help size up your present situation?”

“Yes, Marshall. While driving back I was listening to a radio talk show. The speaker kept repeating that our problems are all about us. I didn’t get it at first. Then it struck a chord. I’ve been waiting for Adam to hear me out. I’ve repressed so much of my own grievance. I’ve listened to Adam complain about his job and feeling cheated, betrayed. You heard his story Marshall. Well, hot damn. That’s my story, too. I kept it to myself. I wasn’t insistent that Adam hear my story. He saw me as strong and able to deal with his complaints. I was in denial of my own vulnerability. Do you get it, Marshall? I had to be strong, did a terrific job and screwed myself up.”

“Esther, I think you see the problem, don’t you?” I said.

“Yes, I do. Let me explain. You may not believe this, but hear me out. I, too, was up for a promotion at work. I took classes in administration awaiting an opening. One finally arrived. The principal retired. He and I were friends. He knew of my vision; my dreams. He supported me. I applied for the position, had a great interview and awaited the results. The school board hired a younger man from another school district. Yes, he was qualified; but darn it, I was, too. I felt betrayed and cheated, too. I sucked it up and silently completed the final eight years without sharing my disappointment. Adam never knew. He was filled with his own angst.”

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.