By Luke Ford Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Seven B Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve 1994-1997 1997 1998 1998B 1999 2000 2001 2009
My father flew in to Orlando this weekend to take meetings (which attracted about 200 people) and have a two-week vacation.
Our friend, Joanne Boleman, attended my dad's talks and then spent Sunday afternoon with Deb and I. We went first to the Orlando Public Library where I checked out several books on relationships, problem-solving, communication, and Judaism. Afterwards the three of us wallked around Lake Eola and talked for almost two hours.
My troubled relationship with Deb dominated the conversation. And as Deb says, the more we focus on our problems together, the more unpleasant it is to be together.
This morning I received letters from friends. Jules Zentner writes:
Am really glad that you liked my response to your 14 pages, the news that your parents had written me, and that I was saddened by good people (you, your parents, & Deb) having difficulty achieving harmony that can accomodate differences, in views, habits, vulnerabilities, and flaws. Thus, was heartened to hear that things are smoother between the two of you and that your stepmother had called (and it sounded as if you appreciated that). From your tone on the tape and the continuing pages, it sounds as if you and Deb are closer to coping with the things that bother each of you and are thus closer to enjoying those things that have brought you two together. Dr G appears to be a sensible person with good perceptions and ideas! Hope, with his help, you can work things out...
Was relieved to learn that you were NOT making love, when you were crying out for lubrication, making pornographic sounds, and uttering chauvinistic phrases. Have no wish to hear the tape again although it is only about opening windows. I don't like coarse provocative language. It bothers rather than excites me. Have nothing against you behaving that way when you are alone. Seems to me that whatever like each of us does in private whether alone or with someone else, is ok (providing that that someone else truly wishes to share it). But I neither like the language nor wish to share, first hand, your experiences of indulging in the feelings behind it. Again, those feelings are harmless as long as they are not directed at some one who is unwilling and I don't mind hearing that you may sometimes have the feelings of a rapist or whatever. But hearing that you have thoughts or feelings is not the same as actually hearing you acting them. I didn't like hearing you delight in Lucy's torture and killing of a mouse. I don't mind hearing that you do it or even that it is pleasurable to you but you violate my privacy when you don't keep the sounds of that delight (killing or macho sex) to yourself...I don't like intruding on others' privacy unless I am certain that I'm sharing that privacy rather than intruding upon it...I still feel uncomfortable listening to you talk about Deb (while she is there) when it seems as if you are not simply telling me about her but also talking to her, using me as an excuse to say things to her that you might not otherwise...
Jules, thank you for your wise views and gentle reproof.
A friend writes:
Thank you for sending the letter (saga?). Such honesty is rare. Upon reading a letter such as yours, a person's natural reaction would be to give lots of advice. Others might spew forth torrents of criticism. Since you've obviously received much of both, I will refrain. Besides, who would want advice from an engineer (usually considered to be the most socially backward of all people on the planet) on a social issue? Now, if you want details on the internal architecture of a microprocessor's nanoengine...
You quoted "...it is unnecessary and artificial to talk during sex..." WRONG. Of course, talking about semiconductor physics would be unnecessary (and boring) during sex, but talking with your partner...
Not communicating is just using the other person as something to masturbate in. I doubt two people can reach a level of true non-verbal communication in less than a year.
You quoted "...prostitution is the most honest form of sex..." Irrelevant if you and your partner are having sex not because you want to seek pleasure individually, but jointly.
There are some questions within your letter.
? Isn't breaking up with Deb a sign of personal failure?
Of course not. Failure is recognizing a bad situation and not fixing or terminating it.
?Isn't the 'sure to occur' pain and feelings of abandonment much worse than staying?
A. From your descriptions, nobody is abandoning you (except, if you stay in such a bad situation, you will be abandoning yourself).
? Is your health being jeopardized?
A. It sure sounds that way. Even if you believed that you were in the middle of a wonderful loving relationship, such detrimental effects to your health would not be justified. What does Jewish Law say about participating in situation that can clearly lead to permanent physical damage.
Joanne Boleman says that I'm looking much better. I certainly don't think that I'm worse than I was in California.
My new Florida routine helps me in many ways. It gets me out of the stay-at-home rut. I'm eating different foods, doing different things, sleeping at different times, etc.
I'm having a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) relapse with attendant muscle exhaustion, sore throat and headache. Deb says it's caused by a combination of overactivity and emotional strain.
Deb says that I've surprised her over the past two months by being more:
* Willing to change. I now shave and shampoo every day, wear the colored underwear and other clothes that she bought me, handle her more gently, and less often express my raunchy side.
* Perfectionistic. While outwardly casual, I'm careful in things that interest me - such as ideas, music, books, tapes, etc...
* Emotional and moody.
Another friend writes to me:
I'm bothered to see you so troubled, confused and unhappy... My heart goes out to your dear parents. What a disappointment and embarrassment you've been to them...The inevitable question, "Where did we go wrong?"
Deb and you are carrying similar baggage - desirabilities, faith, insecurities, fragilities, etc. You're so alike, its scary!
Why continue with Deb? Her disdain and derision toward you are not likely to be repaired. How much humiliation can you take?...It seems to be apparent that she wants you to leave.
You're trapped by geography, your ego and your health. Based on your parents reactions, I doubt that you are welcome back home. As a parent, I know that out of sight is out of mind. Your not being underfoot surely must free their minds somewhat.
Mutual respect seems to be lacking in your relationship [with Deb]. Sex is often an overstated ingredient in the marriage equation.
You need a total overhaul - health, attitude, exhibit more interest in others, less confrontational, etc...
Jules Zentner sounds like a great friend - so analytical, perceptive, articulate and caring. Hang on to him.
My father phoned today from New Smyrna Beach. He leaves Orlando this week to return to Gill in northern California.
Dad offered to donate his T-cells to me to help me overcome CFS.
I've had minimal communication with my parents since I left their home. It's time for me to cut that umbilical cord.
I've gone off Zoloft and will try the antidepressant Nardil in ten days.
I'm still sick. May not be up to attending synagogue services tomorrow morning or the 75th anniversary cocktail party for our shul Ohev Shalom.
My relationship with Deb has improved. I've reduced the number of times that I've told her that she's wrong. I listen more. She's given me valuable insights on myself such as:
* While I don't lie, I frequently withhold unpleasant news from those close to me.
* I expect others to take care of me.
* My chest flushes red with hives when I feel mistreated. That happened this evening when I heard Deb discussing me with her best friend Linda.
Incidentally, I first got hives after the SDA Church removed my father's ministerial credentials in the fall of 1980.
Deb and I hosted my father for an hour yesterday before he flew back home to Gill in Sacramento. Dad says I look well.
I feel horrible. Deb and I attended our synagogue twice on Saturday and I'm exhausted. Being off the antidepressant Zoloft doesn't help either.
Deb went out to dinner this evening with her ex-boyfriend and then back to his place for a couple of hours.
Through the early hours of this morning, I packed my belongings and placed them near the door. Deb helped me.
I cried in my bed while Deb held me. We talked intimately for two hours.
"Why are you so upset?" Deb asked.
"Because I feel dispensable," I replied. "I have no important role...Who needs me?
"I seek in love to make a difference. It pains me that you're not significantly better off for my presence. Rather, I frequently seem to drag you down.
"I want to do magnificent things for you...Present them to you on an altar and hear your heartfelt thanks...But you're unable to articulate anything positive about me..."
Deb said that she didn't feel that I cared for her and that I had failed to commit with heart and soul to this relationship.
"You don't need to leave," said Deb.
I phoned Jewish Family Services to find help in locating kind Jews with whom I could live. The woman on the other end of the line laughed at me.
"You're wildly unrealistic to think that people would take a stranger into their home," she said. "Not in these dangerous times."
I made phone calls throughout the day but couldn't come up with a place to stay.
I channeled my frustration into digging up eight unwanted bushes around Deb's home.
My SDA Pastor friend Lawrence Burn phoned me for 80 minutes in the evening to comfort me.
Schubert's symphonies washed over me.
Also, I got a Florida Driver's License and opened checking and savings accounts at a local bank. I don't want to go home to California for I've changed and home's changed.
Deb dressed me up, drove me around, ate lunch with me at the Sizzler, saw to it that I got a hair cut, and generally took care of me. I'm afraid that I need that mothering.
Despite being worn down by the emotional strain of the past few days, Deb's helping out her good friend Sandy by babysitting her sick seven year-old boy. That generosity and goodness is typical of Deb. She's usually there for her friends.
I theorize more about goodness, but perhaps Deb does more.
Deb says that my perception of myself is different from her perception of me in the following ways:
* I talk much about helping people, but I do little.
* I want other people to like me, but I'm highly selective in who I like.
* While I want Deb to commit exclusively to me, I want for myself freedom to pursue other women.
* I don't like it when other people see persons as fodder for a cause, but I tend to...
* I don't like it when other people get on a soapbox, but I...
Deb says that I hate fun more than any other man she's known.
PEOPLE SAY THAT LUKE FORD IS TOO:
"How are you?" Deb's psychiatrist Dr G asked her this morning.
"Lousy," replied Deb.
"And you?" asked Dr G, looking in my direction.
I had planned to stay quiet so as to not take up Deb's valuable time with the most important person in her life - Dr G.
"I've been off the antidepressant Zoloft for over ten days and it's been difficult," I said. "The last two to three weeks I've felt sick. Off the Zoloft, my mood swings are more extreme.
"Sunday, for instance, I felt miserable. For the only time in our relationship that I can recall, I pleaded with Ta to stay with me. I needed to cry on her bosom.
"Deb left me to spend half the night with MM.
"I packed my belongings in the early hours of Monday morning and placed them near the door where they stay to this moment. I'm looking to move out.
"I'm disengaging from Deb. I'm pulling back."
"You've shown courage in quitting your medication at such a vulnerable time," Dr G told me. "What you feared might happen, did happen...Life's not fair...
"I'd like to see how you and Deb will do with you on [the antidepressant] Nardil. It should reduce your headaches and increase your self-confidence, appetite and energy.
"Deb's had the opportunity to see you at your worst. Now perhaps she can see you at your best...Nardil may take up to a month to take effect."
Dr G saw us as spending more energy attacking threats to our relationship than in trying to please the other person.
"You're smart enough to know what the other person wants," said Dr G. "Now just do it and see what happens...I'll see you in two weeks."
Walking away from Dr G, Deb and I felt encouraged. We usually do after talking with the good doctor. But we argued about MM before Deb drove away that Friday afternoon to a retreat for Loren Quinn facilitators-in-training.
My new friend David Conley drove me to shul this morning. He's converting to Judaism from the Sabbath-keeping Christian denomination - the Worldwide Church of God.
I enjoyed my freedom over the next four hours, talking to whomever I wanted, in the way I wanted.
In the mail, Bobby writes:
Thank you for your note and paper [my stepmother's two-page essay on my interest in Judaism for my father's "Good News Unlimited" magazine]. It was interesting.
I don't think I'll be of much help to you in your search. Most of the girls that replied to my ad - Bold and Naughty - well, most of them are bold and naughty. I am rewording my ad to read shy or homebound. I enjoy writing to people and meeting through the mail...
If this new ad brings in a different type of a girl, closer to your profile, I'll mail you her address if she ok's it. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line. You can write anything. I don't blush easily.
Keep the faith and I'm sure you'll find the right person to share your life with. Why, she may be just a letter away.
I'm not a dating service. Just a lonely guy looking for people to write to. I prefer women.
I woke up tired and sick but shortly before 11AM I decided to dress anyway and walk five minutes down Lake Margaret Drive to the Fort Gattlin Alliance Church - a fundamentalist Protestant sect. I walked in wearing my tallis (prayer shawl) and a kipa (skull cap).
I sat near the back and enjoyed the hour long service, particularly the sermon by the former missionary to Africa, Pastor L.. Afterwards, several people approached me, including the pastor, and we got into rip-roaring discussions for two hours.
One Christian, John Batsell, listens to my father regularly on WTLM 1520 AM at 12:45PM weekdays. John wanted to know what I thought of Christ.
"I have no feeling for the Christ of Christian theology," I said, "but I like the way that Christianity is practiced by many Christians in America today.
"If you want non-Christians, however, to take your beautiful words about Christ more seriously, you'll have to show us a greater behavioral difference between yourself and us. At the moment, we non-Christians do not perceive Christians to be anymore loving, stable, giving, ethical, etc, than us. Until we see that difference, we wont pay much attention to your beautiful theories."
The Christians loved what I had to say. The pastor said that it was the purpose of his whole sermon. As I walked out of the door of the church, I felt that it had been a win-win afternoon.
Dana Tison and his wife, who work for Campus Crusade for Christ, drove me home and we talked until after 4PM.
Deb arrived home about 5:30PM. "Aside from meeting your need for attention," she asked, "what else did you get out of going to church?"
"I'm making friends," I replied. "I felt sick this morning, but hours of talking with people who seemed interested in me and my ideas, invigorated me."
Deb felt similarly about her weekend retreat.
WHY DOES LUKE FORD MAKE LOVE SO QUICKLY? SO THAT HE CAN GO TO THE COMPUTER TO TELL HIS DIARY ABOUT IT.
My friend Roger Magnusson asks me on cassette tape from Australia what I was doing at the time of my life that I was the happiest (eighth grade at PUC?)?
I participated in the life of my community and I felt an important part of others' lives.
Roger identifies with my lament about pursuing ideas more than people. For the past three-and-a-half years, Roger says that he's ignored persons, including himself, while completing his Ph.D. thesis. Now that he's completed that task, he feels an aching hole in his life.
My best friend Jules Zentner writes:
Your voice and writing have seemed generally more robust since Florida...That Deb sees that you are dressing and grooming with greater care is a happy development - especially so since it is important to her (Good for her! You are barbarian enough inwardly so it is nice not being reminded of this outwardly!). What Deb is doing by civilizing you is not only making you pleasing (or at least acceptable) to herself but she is also helping you learn social habits and skills that you will need if you are to talk with (as well as write to) people whom you expect to influence toward a more ethical life...
Bobby writes: " 'The Life of Luke' was interesting and well written. Now get out your typewriter and peck me out `The Lust of Luke'. I think you're at a point in your life that you need to express these feelings."
7AM I feel sick. Deb's been out all night. I don't know where she is, but I fear that she's with M - her previous lover.
My biggest problem in relationships is difficulty loving. When I feel that others have hurt me, I want to hurt them back. When problems come up, I either hide my feelings or express them in an angry way.
For the first time since arriving in Orlando, I followed up a few of my singles' ad responses.
1PM Deb's home. My fears proved true.
Retired Judaism teacher Shari Jay Brodsky writes: