The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “wealth”

The Perfect Life

NEW!

Gra

I had a perfect life. That’s what everyone told me.  I was blessed.  Lucky.   Other women envied me, wishing even for a slice of my life. They envied my handsome successful husband,  my three beautiful children,   my large home in the best neighborhood. I was quite attractive and always dressed in the latest styles.  I never had to go to work. I was free to enjoy the kinds of activities women of leisure enjoy.

I should have been happy.   I had what everyone else wanted; what everyone else was sure would make them happy.  I felt there was something deeply wrong with me because even though I had all this, I was profoundly dissatisfied.

I was happy enough when my babies were small, until the youngest started school.  Suddenly, my days were unfilled.   I didn’t quite know what to do with my time.  My husband traveled frequently on business and was often gone for days, weeks at a time.  I didn’t particularly miss him, but it did leave me lonely for adult company.

I joined a club and met some other women who also needed to fill their days.  We gossiped, complained, and bragged over cards, over lunch, in the pool.  I needed a challenge so I took tennis lessons, and risibly fell victim to that utterly predicable and clichéd story line:  attractive but bored, unhappy housewife has affair with handsome, raffish instructor.

I craved emotional diversion.  I was desperate for my blood to run with passion again, to feel that yearning in the heart and loins.  I rejoiced to feel alive and desired. I hungered for it like a drug.  He began to appear frequently in my dreams and always in my fantasies.  I touched myself, imagining it was his hands on me. Everything reminded me of him. I lived for our weekly trysts.  He became the main focus of my thoughts and attention. I needed him like oxygen.

The weight of my need was more than he was willing to bear. I was too attached, too needy.  I became demanding and weepy.  I wanted things from him that were ridiculous to expect from such an ultimately meaningless relationship. I became undignified.  And so he broke it off.

I was devastated.

I could not go back to the club.  I could not bear to see him with other women.  I could not even bear to be out in public, so raw and so vulnerable.

In the beginning, I would have a drink or two in the morning – enough to help me tolerate the empty hours, but early enough in the day so that I would be relatively sober and put together by the time the children came home from school in the afternoon.

After a while, I’d drink just until the moment the first one walked in the door.  I thought they were too young to notice.  (I was wrong.)   Eventually, I didn’t even care enough to hide my drinking — not from the children who seemed not to need me, not from the housekeeper who was smart enough to do her work and mind her business, and not from my husband when he was around.  He didn’t seem to notice me much anymore anyway.  Other than civil dinners lacking all intimacy, we mostly stayed to ourselves,  him in his part of the house and me in mine.

The drinking transformed from something I did to numb my sorrow and loneliness to a genuine addiction.  Early on, when necessary, I was capable of functioning out in the world  —  go to the market, the shops,  bank, the hair salon.  I’d have just a quick one before setting out and I could tolerate it for a few hours. I didn’t think anyone knew my secret. (I was wrong.)

Over time, it became more important to me to be able to drink at will than to be able to hold myself together for the sake of others.  I was aware enough to recognize that in my usual condition. I was too sloppy to be in polite company.  When drunk, I was prone to doing embarrassing things. I did not want to bring that humiliation on my family.  So I stayed at home.  Besides, daylight and other humans had begun to bother me.

Once, while in the middle of figuring that out,  I picked up my youngest son and some of his friends at an after-school event.  I was quite drunk.  The teachers must have noticed my condition, but they dared not stop me from driving. Although it would have been the reasonable thing to do,  it was not their place.  On the way home, I swerved off the road on a sharp S-curve and came perilously close to a fatal accident.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but the children were terrified and I was deeply shaken.

To my credit, I learned from this incident never to drive in that condition.  And since I was almost always in that condition, it was easier to remain inside, curtains drawn.

As my appearance deteriorated, so did my health.  I grew soft and sloppy.  My face puffed and my muscles sagged.  I looked years older than my chronological age.  I had gone from the envy of all to the person everyone pitied, including myself.

Towards the end, when my condition was too awful for my family to continue to ignore, they tried to get me some help, but I was already beyond the point of salvation.  I didn’t want to stop.  I didn’t want to change. I just wanted to remain numb until I died, which I expected would not take long.  I knew it would kill me.  I hoped it did so quickly.

My children cried because I loved the bottle more than I loved them.  My husband felt guilty for not having gotten me help earlier, when possibly I might have been saved.

But it was not the drink, itself,  that did me in. That was a symptom. What destroyed me was my guilt over not being happy despite all that God had given me. According to everyone else, I had everything a woman could desire to achieve maximum satisfaction.   If I was unhappy with all this, clearly there was something wrong with me; there was nothing that could make me happy. I was too damaged and undeserving of happiness. If I could have assuaged my guilt by giving those slices of my life to whoever could take benefit from them, I would have.  Such advantages were wasted on me.

I had made the grotesque mistake of believing what everyone else did: that money and possessions and status and appearances were the source of happiness.  I could have been happy in that my situation, just as anyone can be happy in any situation, if I had simply placed the greatest value on the smallest things.

—————–

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Rarefied

First published May 28, 2016

mountaintop

Arj

Looking back, if I have anything to apologize for, it’s that never apologized for anything. I did what I wanted, what I had to. If people were hurt or inconvenienced by the way I lived, this was their problem to solve. I couldn’t be responsible for the feelings or well-being of others. Should I have pulled back on the reigns of my ambition for fear of stepping on the toes of those who did not want to win as badly as I? Should I have kept promises which no longer suited me, for fear of shattering someone else’s dreams? (Simply being able to shatter the dreams of others made me feel powerful!)   Should I have allowed myself be weak so as to give space to those who were not as strong?  To do any of those things would have compromised who I was and who I was determined to become.

Others hesitated for such sentimental reasons, and consequently lost ground. Greatness requires a monomaniacal fixation on the prize.   One misstep, one falsely placed trust, one momentary glance away from the path, and it might all crumble; the fractured shatters of ambition tramped upon indifferently, like long-neglected Roman ruins.

The best game is at the top. There you meet others who are as good and as determined as you are. Maybe more so.  Players are steeled for a fight to the death. Dying is better than achieving that height without finally taking the prize.   Each, willing to die for the glory of standing in the rarefied air at the top of the peak. Each, willing to kill for the privilege of being able to look down and survey the land below, knowing everything and everyone belongs to them.

It was in this struggle that I felt most alive.

The urge drove me like a ravenous, heartless beast.

Most humans don’t have the stomach for this game. They do their best to stay out of the way of people like me. Little fish, schooling together, believing that in numbers and anonymity, they will better their odds of surviving the inevitable shark attack.

Most, even those with a fair amount of ambition, are limited by their unwillingness to sacrifice everything else in order to play The Big Game. They are unwilling to take what they want. Only those who take, get.  They are unwilling to compromise their so-called morals.

I had only one moral: Win at any cost.

And so I did.

I lived for years at the top of the mountain, self-glorified and in absolute belief that I was deserving of my lofty place. I never fell from grace; I died of old age at the pinnacle.

Only then did I understand what I had missed by not living in the valley below.

____

 If you are enjoying these stories,  please support and promote this blog:
·        Subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days) by clicking the link above.
·        Send stories  to others who you think might enjoy them or find them meaningful.
·        Help spread the word by reposting to social media.  
·        Post a story on Facebook or a blog and discuss amongst yourselves…
·        Even better,  discuss the concepts from the blog with others, and come to your own conclusions!
And, as always, your comments and support are welcome and appreciated!
 
-Adrienne

The Aging Heiress

originally posted 4/27/14

glamorous vintage woman

 

La  

I was vain, it is true. And my vanity caused many others to suffer. I was vain about things I had no right to claim as my own – my looks, my status (which was inherited, and then enhanced by marriage.)

In my 20’s, I was known as a great beauty. I was invited to all the right parties. Men desired me.

As I got older, I took care of myself as best I could, to maintain the illusion of youth as long as possible. After a certain number of years, however, age simply catches up. A woman loses her sexual power over men. If this is all she has, if she’s put all her eggs in this particular basket, she ends up with nothing.

I had four husbands and excellent lawyers, but even money doesn’t fill that void, though I worked hard to prove that statement incorrect.   Still, it was better to have money than to be poor.

At 79, I was still elegant; still invited to all the right parties. My last companion was 53. It was obvious to everyone except me that he was playing me. I wanted to believe that I still had enough wit, charm, and charisma to attract such a witty, charming, charismatic man.

When I died, he and my children (with whom I was never particularly close), got into a protracted legal fight over my estate. From where I was, I didn’t care who won. I could see how utterly pointless their battle was. The loser, in the end, was the real winner, although it took a while for that understanding to sink in.

***

note: Today I was out for a walk and ran into two women I haven’t really spoken to in over a year.   The first woman is a neighbor, and though we usually have a quick hello when we see each other on the street, today we ended up chatting for an hour. Mostly, she talked about her mother, who had passed the previous year.  There was nothing unusual in that.  It made perfect sense in the context of the conversation we were having, although it was the longest conversation we’ve had, probably in two or three years.

From there, I went to the supermarket.  Right in front of me in line, was someone who’d worked for me very briefly over a year ago.  We have not been in touch.  I asked her how she was doing, making light conversation.  She told me her mother had just passed away. While waiting to check out, she started telling me all about her mom, her personal history, her days as a political organizer.

I didn’t think anything odd about either of these encounters at the time. Later, however, I wondered if this wasn’t something more than mere coincidence.   They hadn’t simply mentioned their mother’s recent deaths. That would have been the normal kind of news one might share in such circumstances. But thinking about it,  it seemed unusual that they both spontaneously told me their mother’s story, in far more detail than what was warranted by our casual relationships, as if it were important for me to know. 

 

___

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

What Money Can’t Buy

first published Nov 20, 2014

 rich kid silver spoon

Cha

What a waste of a life!

It took me until my 40s to start feeling as if something were missing from my life. I made a couple of attempts to do something about it but I was useless at anything practical. I ended up failing spectacularly and embarrassingly. So I gave up and went back to my louche, superficial and self-indulgent ways, but with much less pleasure.

When I was young, I never questioned that I could have anything I wanted. I could buy whatever I wished. I could pick up at a moment’s notice and travel halfway around the world on a whim.  There were always lots of people willing to laugh at my jokes,  to revel in my company, to sleep in my bed. It never occurred to me to feel bad or ashamed that everything I had had been bought…including, in their fashion, the laughter, the reveling and the sex. There was nothing beyond that which I wanted.  I had all that I desired and desired all I had.

Eventually, however, as I got older, the people I met in my circle tended to be wealthy because they had accomplished something.  Even those born rich, seemed to have achieved success in their chosen pursuits.   And while there was a fair share of marriages of convenience, there were many who genuinely loved their spouses.

This started to nag at a corner of my psyche.

The thought started small but I soon began to feel that people only saw me as an extension of my money.

Of course that should have been ridiculously obvious! But for decades it was completely opaque to me.  I’d been content in my shallow world and had seen no reason to think too deeply about matters which might sow seeds of dissatisfaction.

But I as this realization grew, I eventually got the notion that I wanted to possess something money could not buy: The pride of accomplishment.   Self-respect.   Someone who loved me for myself.

This was the first good impulse I had in my life.

Unfortunately, it came too late.  I had no idea how to be loved for myself or what that even meant. I did not possess the emotional skills needed to truly love or be loved. My values were too warped. I had no instincts. I tried to express love but other than buying material gifts, I had no idea how to give of myself. I sought love but was too naive to know when I was being taken advantage of. I paid a heavy price for that, both emotionally and financially.

I tried my hand at business and even local politics. Once again, my instincts (or rather lack of them) failed me. I had no understanding of how the world functioned outside my rarified milieu.

After several years of failures, I was, for the first time in my life, dissatisfied. I still played my social role. Still traveled in the right circles.  Ate and drank in the right places. I was now aware, however, of the subtle mocking disdain of others. Or perhaps that was self-disdain. I honestly don’t know.

There came a time when I withdrew from that circle and surrounded myself with those who admired me…for the same superficial reasons I’d once admired myself.  It was a vain and shallow and unexamined life. Pickled in gin.

I ran away from those who I felt judged me negatively. Ironically, if I hadn’t cared about their respect, they’d have respected me more. Or, again, perhaps I only would have believed they did. I imagine, either way, the same number of people would have liked me perfectly well (or disliked me) exactly as I was (and had always been).

The issue, I understand how, was not how they perceived me, but how I perceived their perception of me.

So, I surrounded myself with those even more needy and self-loathing than I. This allowed me to feel better about myself. My positive delusions about myself were reinforced by my coterie of hangers-on.

I told myself I didn’t need my old circle.  I talked myself into believing that I was lucky not to have been caught in that prison of strict mores and expectations. I convinced myself I was better off and freer where I was.

On those rare occasions when I was took a good, hard, honest look at myself,  I granted that I had run away from them. This notion made me feel bad enough not to want to examine it any more deeply.

What I never understood was that I was not running away from them. Rather I was running from the image of myself which I projected on upon them.

 

****

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days.  Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward.  Would greatly appreciate sharing on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Thanks!

Rarefied

NEW POST

mountaintop

Arj

Looking back, if I have anything to apologize for, it’s that never apologized for anything. I did what I wanted, what I had to. If people were hurt or inconvenienced by the way I lived, this was their problem to solve. I couldn’t be responsible for the feelings or well-being of others. Should I have pulled back on the reigns of my ambition for fear of stepping on the toes of those who did not want to win as badly as I? Should I have kept promises which no longer suited me, for fear of shattering someone else’s dreams? (Simply being able to shatter the dreams of others made me feel powerful!)   Should I have allowed myself be weak so as to give space to those who were not as strong?  To do any of those things would have compromised who I was and who I was determined to become.

Others hesitated for such sentimental reasons, and consequently lost ground. Greatness requires a monomaniacal fixation on the prize.   One misstep, one falsely placed trust, one momentary glance away from the path, and it might all crumble; the fractured shatters of ambition tramped upon indifferently, like long-neglected Roman ruins.

The best game is at the top. There you meet others who are as good and as determined as you are. Maybe more so.  Players are steeled for a fight to the death. Dying is better than achieving that height without finally taking the prize.   Each, willing to die for the glory of standing in the rarefied air at the top of the peak. Each, willing to kill for the privilege of being able to look down and survey the land below, knowing everything and everyone belongs to you.

It was in this struggle that I felt most alive.

The urge drove me like a ravenous, heartless beast.

Most humans don’t have the stomach for this game. They do their best to stay out of the way of people like me. Little fish, schooling together, believing that in numbers and anonymity, they will better their odds of surviving the inevitable shark attack.

Most, even those with a fair amount of ambition, are limited by their unwillingness to sacrifice everything else in order to play The Big Game. They are unwilling to take what they want. Only those who take, get.  They are unwilling to compromise their so-called morals.

I had only one moral: Win at any cost.

And so I did.

I lived for years at the top of the mountain, self-glorified and in absolute belief that I was deserving of my lofty place. I never fell from grace; I died of old age at the pinnacle.

Only then did I understand what I had missed by not living in the valley below.

 

 If you are enjoying these stories,  please support and promote this blog:
·        Subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days) by clicking the link above.
·        Send stories  to others who you think might enjoy them or find them meaningful.
·        Help spread the word by reposting to social media.  
·        Post a story on Facebook or a blog and discuss amongst yourselves…
·        Even better,  discuss the concepts from the blog with others, and come to your own conclusions!
And, as always, your comments and support are welcome and appreciated!
 
-Adrienne

The Aging Heiress

originally posted 4/27/14

glamorous vintage woman

La

I was vain, it is true. And my vanity caused many others to suffer. I was vain about things I had no right to claim as my own – my looks, my status (which was inherited, and then enhanced by marriage.)

In my 20’s, I was known as a great beauty. I was invited to all the right parties. Men desired me.

As I got older, I took care of myself as best I could, to maintain the illusion of youth as long as possible. After a certain number of years, however, age just catches up. A woman loses her sexual power over men. If this is all she has, if she’s put all her eggs in this particular basket, she ends up with nothing.

I had four husbands and excellent lawyers,  but even money doesn’t fill that void, although I worked hard to prove that statement incorrect.   Still, it was better to have money than not.

At 79, I was still elegant; still invited to all the right parties. My last companion was 53.   It was obvious to everyone except me that he was playing me. I wanted to believe that I still had enough wit, charm, and charisma to attract such a witty, charming, charismatic man.

When I died, he and my children (with whom I was never particularly close), got into a protracted legal suit over my estate. From where I was, I didn’t care who won. I could see how utterly pointless their battle was. The loser, in the end, was the real winner, although it took a while for that understanding to sink in.

 

***

note:

Today I was out for a walk and ran into two women I haven’t really spoken to in over a year.   The first woman is a neighbor, and though we usually have a quick hello when we see each other on the street,  today we ended up yakking for an hour. Mostly, she talked a lot about her mother, who had passed the previous year.  There was nothing unusual in that.  It made perfect sense in the context of the conversation we were having, although it was the longest conversation we’ve had, probably in two or three years.

From there, I went to the supermarket.  Right on front of me in line,  was someone who’d worked for me very briefly over a year ago.  We have not been in touch.    I asked her how she was doing, making light conversation.  She told me her mother had just passed away. While waiting to check out, she started telling me all about her mom,  her history, her days as an organizer.

I didn’t think anything odd about either of these encounters at the time. Later, however, I wondered if there wasn’t something a bit more than coincidence here.   They hadn’t simply informed that their mothers had recently passed. That’s  normal “news” you might share under such circumstances.  It was that they both spontaneously told me their mother’s story,  as if it were important for me to know.  In neither case was it at all in keeping with the very casual kind of relationship we had.

 

____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  please spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )  
And, as always, your comments are welcome!
-Adrienne

What Money Can’t Buy

 rich kid silver spoon

Cha

What a waste of a life!

It took me until my 40s to start feeling as if something were missing from my life. I made a couple of attempts to do something about it but I was useless at anything practical. I ended up failing spectacularly and embarrassingly. So I gave up and went back to my louche, superficial and self-indulgent ways, but with much less pleasure.

When I was young, I never questioned that I could have anything I wanted. I could buy whatever I wished. I could pick up at a moment’s notice and travel halfway around the world on a whim.  There were always lots of people willing to laugh at my jokes,  to revel in my company, to sleep in my bed. It never occurred to me to feel bad or ashamed that everything I had had been bought…including, in their fashion, the laughter, the reveling and the sex. There was nothing beyond that which I wanted.  I had all that I desired and desired all I had.

Eventually, however, as I got older, the people I met in my circle tended to be wealthy because they had accomplished something.  Even those born rich, seemed to have achieved success in their chosen pursuits.   And while there was a fair share of marriages of convenience, there were many who genuinely loved their spouses.

This started to nag at a corner of my psyche.

The thought started small but I soon began to feel that people only saw me as an extension of my money.

Of course that should have been ridiculously obvious! But for decades it was completely opaque to me.  I’d been content in my shallow world and had seen no reason to think too deeply about matters which might sow seeds of dissatisfaction.

But I as this realization grew, I eventually got the notion that I wanted to possess something money could not buy: The pride of accomplishment.   Self-respect.   Someone who loved me for myself.

This was the first good impulse I had in my life.

Unfortunately, it came too late.  I had no idea how to be loved for myself or what that even meant. I did not possess the emotional skills needed to truly love or be loved. My values were too warped. I had no instincts. I tried to express love but other than buying material gifts, I had no idea how to give of myself. I sought love but was too naive to know when I was being taken advantage of. I paid a heavy price for that, both emotionally and financially.

I tried my hand at business and even local politics. Once again, my instincts (or rather lack of them) failed me. I had no understanding of how the world functioned outside my rarified milieu.

After several years of failures, I was, for the first time in my life, dissatisfied. I still played my social role. Still traveled in the right circles.  Ate and drank in the right places. I was now aware, however, of the subtle mocking disdain of others. Or perhaps that was self-disdain. I honestly don’t know.

There came a time when I withdrew from that circle and surrounded myself with those who admired me…for the same superficial reasons I’d once admired myself.  It was a vain and shallow and unexamined life. Pickled in gin.

I ran away from those who I felt judged me negatively. Ironically, if I hadn’t cared about their respect, they’d have respected me more. Or, again, perhaps I only would have believed they did. I imagine, either way, the same number of people would have liked me perfectly well (or disliked me) exactly as I was (and had always been).

The issue, I understand how, was not how they perceived me, but how I perceived their perception of me.

So, I surrounded myself with those even more needy and self-loathing than I. This allowed me to feel better about myself. My positive delusions about myself were reinforced by my coterie of hangers-on.

I told myself I didn’t need my old circle.  I talked myself into believing that I was lucky not to have been caught in that prison of strict mores and expectations. I convinced myself I was better off and freer where I was.

On those rare occasions when I was took a good, hard, honest look at myself,  I granted that I had run away from them. This notion made me feel bad enough not to want to examine it any more deeply.

What I never understood was that I was not running away from them. Rather I was running from the image of myself which I projected on upon them.

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