PART 16 – BUDDHA’S IN THE TEMPLE AND WON’T COME OUT

This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: I bond with Sally, and she dumps Billy. Check “Recent Posts” on right side of page to read past installments or to start with Part One.

After my dinner with Sally, I buried myself in work, which helped take the focus off Billy. I was writing a pilot for ABC, a drama series based on my book “Leap!” Marta Kauffman, who created the TV hit “Friends,” was collaborating with me, and Goldie Hawn had committed to star in the series. We’d already written a dozen drafts, based on notes we kept receiving from the “suits” – executives at ABC and Warner Bros. Then the Writers Guild had gone on strike and we’d been unable to work for months. Now the strike had been settled and the top gun – the president of ABC — had given us radical new notes and a five day deadline to complete a total rewrite. We hoped that if we turned in a draft he loved, he would put the series on the air.*

While I was writing, Billy sent some chatty, superficial emails, and I told him I had a deadline and to leave me alone. Marta and I worked day and night, barely sleeping, and turned in the script the last minute before it was due.

An email arrived promptly at the end of the fifth day: “Are you going to talk to me ever again? With tender thoughts, Billy.”

I called Sally and read it to her, like an alcoholic calling her sponsor when she’s tempted to drink. “Tender, my ass,” Sally said. “I hope you won’t respond.”

But I did. I knew that by answering him I was engaging again, but I couldn’t help it. I was like a smoker who knows cigarettes will kill him and can’t stop lighting up.

I emailed Billy repeating that I would not take part in his dating roulette. Then I pulled the pin on what I expected would be a grenade. I informed him that I’d had dinner with Sally, and we’d found discrepancies and deception in his stories.

Billy wrote back that he was happy I was keeping the lines of communication open. But he had his own story of how things had gone, a story in which he was honest, blameless and did nothing wrong. He was sorry Sally and I had been hurt, but not sorry about his behavior. In fact, it was my fault. “I feel you seduced me for the purpose of staking claim to me and making me feel suddenly obligated to you, after rejecting me for months.”

I responded that I had hardly seduced him, he was the one who kept suggesting we go to bed, but “you did not twist my arm,” I said, “even the good one. I threw caution to the wind, and I take responsibility for that. And I confess, I did hope that would lead to a one-on-one relationship.”

He fired back: “I do wish to date one person, with hope that the relationship leads to marriage. I thought Sally might be the person I could do that with. She came to me at a time when you and I had nothing and expected we never would. If you and I had not made love, a relationship with Sally might have been possible. She and I went to one concert, a movie and breakfast. We never had the private time together to gain any realization of whether our attraction was a dream or a reality. You and I did have that time for discovery, but then I found it such a difficult decision that I could not allow you to hurry me into it. The irony is that my attraction, respect and admiration for both of you has resulted in you both hating me. After your meeting with Sally, she asked me not to email her. If you talk to her again, you have my permission to show her this letter.”

I forwarded it to Sally, who was appalled. “He sends me a love note through you? That’s sick.”

As we were talking, another email landed from Billy, telling me he was watching “High Noon” and thinking about me. As if he hadn’t just told me he’d wanted Sally!

I banged out a reply: “Don’t contact me again.” I was glad I had Sally on the phone to back me up. “Send it!” she said.

Relief washed over me. I kept repeating those four words to myself: “Don’t contact me again.” Good riddance to bad rubbish, as we said at Berkeley in the 60s. I wished I could add those words to the Paul Simon song about the 50 ways to leave your lover.

Then, of course, came the crash a few days later. It had been 8 years since I’d been with a man who loved me and whom I loved in return. In 8 years, I’d dated five men and met dozens of others and hadn’t experienced anything close to that deep, nourishing connection. I can go for long periods and be just fine on my own, but after Billy, because I’d taken a bite of the apple — tasted again what it feels like to have that juicy energy running between you and a partner — I felt bereft.

I had the old pain in the chest, as if ribs have been broken and it’s hard to breathe. (The physical pain, I would learn later, is a sure sign of addiction. The pain comes when the desired object is withdrawn, and the rational mind is helpless to quash the pain or the longing)

I called Sally to talk me down from the tree. “When I sleep with someone and it’s great, I get screwed up. Meditation, psychological insight – nothing helps. Buddha is in the temple and won’t come out.”

“You spent a lot more time with Billy than I did,” Sally said. “You had more invested. I feel like I dodged a bullet.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Please leave a comment.

*The series based on Leap! is not to be. ABC killed it for “budgetary reasons” after asking us for several more rewrites.

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This blog is based on a true story, but names and identifying details have been changed to protect privacy.

 

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17 thoughts on “PART 16 – BUDDHA’S IN THE TEMPLE AND WON’T COME OUT

  1. Anonymous

    I confess I am reading every installment, but it's that old watching-a-train-wreck cliché. I am appalled. You were in your 50s, a person supposedly introspective and seeking balance in your life, and you and your friend Sally acted just like silly, reckless 20-somethings.

    As always, I'm amazed that people act in ways that should mortify them and then tell everyone what they've done. If you imagine that this blog serves as a PSA, you're mistaken. Anyone interested in and capable of learning how to avoid this kind of game-playing and willing victimhood has already read countless articles and advice columns in young women's magazines.

    Reply
  2. Debbie

    Dear Sara,

    I'm sorry to hear that your series proposal based on “Leap” was not bought by the network….life has a way of testing us when we've already been knocked down once and are trying to crawl our way back up, doesn't it?

    As for Billy, the thing that struck me most from reading this blog post was his complete inability to take ANY responsibility for the outcome of his actions in dating both you and Sally simultaneously. It's almost like he has these “blinders” on that only allow him to view relationships from his own point of view. His comment about never having “private time” with her to discover if their attractions was “real ” because of your seduction of him is utterly ridiculous and childish. He portrays you are some sort of “Mata Hari” who cast a spell over him that “forced” him to make love with you when he really wanted to be with Sally. So, is that why he would always come back to you after his dates with Sally – he had such “high hopes” for the potential of their relationship that having sex with you was the only way to preserve that possibility??

    This fellow has some strange misconceptions about what “women want” in a man, and if this is his idea of how to “court” a woman properly, I think his success rate will be pretty low. And I do understand about the “attraction/addiction” syndrome – I also struggle with the same issue and it makes me very hesitant to open myself up in a new relationship in anticipation of the pain that might follow. Please continue to share how you cope and work through your struggles with this “addiction”.

    Reply
  3. rick the celestial cowboy

    dear sara and sally,

    sorry, girls. you deserve each other.
    billy is just a symbolic name but he represents all males who would be in a similar situation with two attractive women that he is trying to establish a relationship with. i cannot think of ANY of my male friends that i would have done the same thing to, sara — sharing my sexual and romantic experiences with a person to find out more about a woman we both had known in the Biblical sense.
    sara, i can understand at least a little bit why you did it. but this is a feminine trait that is not very popular at all with me. you have gone from the heights of a sensual sexual and somewhat intellectual relationship, to the depths of kissing and telling. and in my book, that is a no-no. it was clever, ladies — wonderfully done. and in the hands of a great playwright such as tennesse williams, william inge or — shall i say it? — sara davidson, it could have had a long run on Broadway.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Hi Sara,

    First let me say, I enjoyed your book Leap which I read quite some time ago since I am in that “What to Do Next With My Life” transition period myself and have been for several years.

    I won't even comment on Billy because he is too ridiculous but similar to a lot of men today – many of them on the dating sites.

    My thoughts are more about what are smart women like you and me doing with jerks like them. I have been dating someone off and on who has similar behavior. I totally related to your feeling of not having dated someone in a while and not having felt that high you get when the chemistry is good, which becomes addictive. But what about the self-sabotaging behavior of going back for more time and again. That is what I am concentrating on now. What is that about.

    So, my question for you is: “Do you think you will contact him again?”

    I am not sure how this process works. I have never posted a comment on a blog before. Do you answer comments?

    Virginia

    Reply
  5. Sunnymay

    The saga continues. Do you really want to throw out a jerk or could it be you like the attention however scattered, divided and compromised? Do you like hunting for Big Game or is it just the chase and gathering the spoils of the prey? I've found it fascinating that love is lopsided, one always interprets and gives more than the other, yet wants to write the script for something different. Writing and relationships are investments for the present and the future.

    Reply
  6. Sara Davidson

    Yes, Virginia, I do respond to comments, but not all of them all the time. Thanks for yours. Stay tuned, the saga takes more twists and turns, but what we're moving toward is an understanding of, as you rightfully ask, why do we get involved in these kinds of relationships, and how we can find our way to self love? The lack of self love and the yearning for wholeness is what drives every addiction, whether it's to chocolate, heroin or sex. And I'm determined to get off the junk!

    Thanks also to Debbie for your insight, and to Rick, the CCP, for… being Rick, no holds barred.

    Reply
  7. Elise

    I don't think that getting tangled for a bit with Billy is any kind of avoidance of yourself. When on a dating site, we often get into these temporary messes with people and it takes a while to figure out just how deceptive they are. I consider myself a feminist and I've been mangled
    around by some real doozies. I think it's great to compare notes: it takes away all the mystery that Billy feeds on.

    Reply
  8. Peter Lake, LAKE Real Estate

    Referring to
    “PAL's Rule of Relationships

    As long as you're having fun, you're still in a relationship.
    When you stop having fun it's over.”

    Obviously you're still having (some kind of) fun, so it's not over. Carry on and report back, please.

    “PAL's RULE OF NETWORK DEVELOPMENT –

    They're all dopes”
    and ABC's decision about LEAP just adds more weight to that fact.

    It's a great concept — not to mention great book.

    Reply
  9. Bluekelpie

    Ahh, Sara,
    I am sorry that LEAP won't be a series. It seems like such a great idea.
    Is it actually Billy, himself that you crave, or is it the high from feeling so alive? By contacting Billy are you feeding your addiction or is there some deep, spiritual connection with Billy specifically that needs to be worked out? Maybe we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that there's something wrong with us. We just want to be loved, after all. Either way, it looks as though you'll learn a lot about yourself and grow from it. Take Care, Joey

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I would say “GET A LIFE”, but you already have a great one! What I don't get is why you turn your back on it just a for a good lay. A good lay ain't LOVE in case you didn't know. How can you be such a good writer AND still be so naive and almost juvenile with this Sh*t!
    Learn the Law of Attraction, lady! Everything in your life is there because YOU magnetized it to you. Take responsibility, get on with your life and disconnect from the outcome with Billy, and believe me, it will work out exactly as it should…for both of you.

    Reply
  11. rick the celestial cowboy

    dear sara;

    why not form your own film production company, and send ABC to tv hades, wherever that might be? I would invest my life's fortune with you on the series — all $396.47 — and if that doesn't show faith, what does? all we would need to set up the corporation would b a thousand fans on this site doing the same. just make sure the books are kept straight…remember madoff.
    one more thought, dear lady writer: on addictions.
    when my father died, i was in florida and flew back to pennsylvania to attend the funeral. i was very close to dad — my mother had died two years earlier — and was feeling pretty bummed out. the tall blonde flight attendant noticed this and asked me to tell her what was wrong. well, several glasses of champagne later, the attendant, grace, gave me her phone number — thanks, dad, for this greatest gift! And she confessed to me that she had two addictions; italian chocolates and sex. i grinned and said, 'grace, this should be the beginning of a perfect relationship since i LOVE italian chocolates.'

    -30-

    Reply
  12. Dr.Barbra

    Oohhhh! I know the deliciousness of that pain. It is definitely addiction and we know what soothes the pain and floods us with vibrant life and warmth.
    It's way worse than chocolate and sweeter, too.

    You just have to do it until you don't have to do it any more.

    Sorry about the series. What next?

    Reply
  13. thinkgoodthoughts

    Dear Sara,

    I love your story and find every time I see your email I want to delete it but I always end up reading it first. Sorry to hear it wasn't picked up by a network.

    Yes, it is an addition we feed ourselves everytime we engage. It's not Billy or Brian or Steve, it's our decision to scratch that itch. It's not them to blame. Just a little behavior on our part to notice. When it becomes painful as it seems in your story, it's time to get off that junk! I had a relationship like this with a man who gave me the best sex I ever had. I still remember how much fun it was but I would never be in a relationship with him since he was still having a “friendship” with his ex-girlfriend. 5 yrs. later I'm still glad I made that decision. There's lots of men to have relationships with.

    Continue to find your strength and go out and have some fun. Love you, TGT

    Reply
  14. Kelly

    Hey, Sara!

    My assessment:

    Billy is too psychologically complicated to ever have a truly emotionally honest relationship, stop trying.
    If you can, take the sex and the chemistry for the fun time that it is without getting emotionally attached. If you can't leave your heart out of it, RUN AWAY QUICKLY

    Reply
  15. Annie

    Hi Sara – Reading your blog tonight makes me sad and anxious. Why does love and harmony have to be so hard to obtain when we are in mid life? I myself am going through a period of transition, I was in Maui last time I wrote, but I guess that wasn't far enough away from my issues so now I'm in your state of Colorado, in Silverton, for some more “space”. I am a trail runner and hiker and the San Juan Mountains always bring me peace. I don't want to go without someone special for 8 years so I will stay tuned to your musings in hopes of finding a clue !! In the meantime… I will hopefully just have some fun and not fall off a cliff! Thanks for your writing, I find it very enjoyable and would have been a true fan of your series. Maybe cable will pick it up… that's where all the good shows are anyway.

    Reply
  16. rick the celestial cowboy

    from maui to colorado, annie is on the move. like the rest of us, she is searching for paradise. sara,l annie, me, everyone. the secret, though, is far more interesting than the search. remember that LIFE HAS NO MEANING, EXCEPT THE BEAUTY OF ITS INTRICATE DESIGN. that's my original thought, with the help of one other individual. sara found some meaning in billy's cowboy arms…annie found some meaning on the shores of maui…i discovered meaning in the eastern caribbean. we are all searching, and isn't it a marvelous trip?

    Reply
  17. Peter Lake

    Gawd, I hate to have to preach here, so I'll leave one more Eternal Rule of PAL (c'est moi)here:

    PAL'S MEANING OF LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE:

    “Everyone's looking for a place to put their meat.”

    Nevermind that Ms. D. is past the age of fertility — meat-placing is hard-wired to us and all else flows from that.

    It's the contemplation and description of the activity surrounding the process that makes her writing interesting, not the results or the unfortunate consequences.

    Ms. D. writes of process, which ought to be our own standard of judging our lives.

    Sometimes, like the making of sausages or legislation, it might better suit us not to observe the process, but in this case, we're such a captive audience that we can watch without guilt.

    Or self-examination.

    Reply