“My wife is so angry all of the time.”
Not quite the answer I was expecting when a colleague dropped in unannounced and I innocently asked how his weekend had been. But the one that I got none the less.
I’d opened one unholy can of worms with my question as he spent the next 30 minutes regaling me with tales of ways in which his wife is mean, the fact that his family feel sorry for him and don’t understand her and how he is therefore embarrassed to go to visit them. Oh, and not forgetting the fact that they’ve been married for over 25 years and he doesn’t feel he can divorce her as this wouldn’t look good.
During the conversation (monologue) I concentrated on giving supportive nods and looks coupled with the occasional ‘oh my goodness’ or ‘that must be really tough’ when I managed to get a word in edgeways.
This is not the first time my office has been the venue for personal disclosure since my arrival two months ago.
In this time I have been told stories of wayward children, lost opportunities, corrupt bosses, failed careers and more than one miserable marriage.
Each visit has been unsolicited by myself, draped in a façade of the caller wanting to visit the guy next door and ended with a version of the perfunctory phrase ‘so I go now.’
I quite enjoy these odd little interruptions to my day. I love getting an insight into the reality behind the façade and the fact that people I hardly know want to come and tell me the woes of their life instead of engaging in idle ‘how’s the weather?’ or ‘have you eaten yet?’ chitchat.
But I also feel a little bit saddened by it too. Am I the only person these people can find to talk to? Does thinking about and sharing their stories in a language that is not their own really help? What other outlet(s) do they have to manage and process their pain? Is it acceptable to express pain on a personal level amongst their peers and generally in a nation that has suffered so much wide spread pain?
And just as I ponder these questions one of my regular visitors has appeared and so I’ll bid you farewell and open the doors to the confessional once more.