Dear G. I. & Joe, “Is That So?”

Is life that easy? Has your life been that easy for you to say, “is that so?” and move on when your life became complete chaos? You heard me when I was with one of my favorite colleagues the other night.
He reminds me of myself. Dear G, he is similar to you in a way that I almost see my future in him: being kind, generous, and gregarious. Under his mask, I could see through his loneliness, anger, and pain that seem to have roots in his relationship with his parents. Irish. White. Affluent. Upper-class Catholic. Brilliant mind. Kind soul. Witty. Sarcastic. Beer lover. Coffee drinker. Cigar smoker. Social marijuana user. He is my “type” of guy. He is a “good guy.”
The other day, I talked to him about my summer stories, especially the most crucial event that led me to the psychiatric unit where I met you guys. He listened attentively. Occasionally, I saw his facial movement, signaling his disbelief about me. “You never had marijuana?” It was similar to a “poor you” kind of response. It was funny to watch him. He would not understand how rich you had to be to have marijuana back in the day in Korea. I wonder how it is now.
“What happened?” He asked me several times to clarify what I said about my “crazy” night. I knew he heard me. He seemed to be shocked to hear that it was about me, not about our clients. I wondered how he used to think of me before I saw his reaction. The fact is that I did not even share most of my stories. I did not have the intention to share my stories with him. My mind slipped without any hesitance. He has a uniquely comforting and wild vibe that helps me open up.
Then, I knew I had to stop when I saw his pain, which seemed to be mixed with his own, overlapped with mine. He is almost 80 years old. I did not want to burden him with my “crazy” stories. After all, it was late. It was not a good time. He had a couple of beers by then. When I decided to stop sharing, he started to share his life. It was my turn to listen to him and with him. I listened. I like his open mind. He shared his life stories and some of his “analysis” and “assessment” of my mind, heart, and soul. My stories were a part of a psychotic episode induced by extreme stress. I was glad that he was also open to my hypothesis. Mostly though, I was sad.
Did you feel my sadness? How come? I know you three were there with me. I felt G’s sarcasm, Joe’s curiosity, and I’s confusion. G said to me, “that is a rich White guy talking,” Joe said, “that is insightful!” and I said, “What? I do not get it.” He told me a story from Buddhism. I do not even recall what it was. My short-term memory has been troublesome, although my long term-memory has been intact. Memory issues commonly happen when traumatic events occur. I am sure G would know better than I am about this. By the way, his story’s point was to move on by saying, “Is that so?” It was already several days ago. How are you guys doing with this simple praise, “Is that so?” now? Should I? What I have trouble with the most is not about forgiving, forgetting, moving on, letting go, and accepting. I know I eventually would be able to do so. This fundamentally missing piece to all of my dissertation participants and my Asian women clients: Justice. What happened to justice? I am struggling with this question. Is that so? I hear him telling me this with his unique smile on his face.

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