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Category: Betsy Lerner

The old guard

“All of the men go first. Men who went to work every day, smoked cigars and wore fedoras, men who might have strayed but didn’t leave their wives, trade them in for younger models. Played ball with their sons and walked their daughters down the aisle at their weddings. These were men who poured tumblers of scotch and read the paper when they got home. Men who golfed on the weekend, played tennis, pinochle, poker, and couples Bridge with their wives. They didn’t read GQ or Esquire, didn’t need to. They knew how to tie a tie, do a push-up, and wax the Cadillac. They took Polaroid pictures at birthday parties and paid the bills. That their wives didn’t have to work was a point of pride, as was putting their children through college, affording a second home in a gated community in Boca or Palm Beach with automatic sprinklers and manicured putting greens. They left nest eggs and continued to take care of their wives from the grave.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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What counts and how, and who decides

“ ‘Are you bipolar?’ My daughter was ten when she asked me. We were in her bed reading together before she went to sleep. It was something I knew I had to tell her one day, but I didn’t expect it to come out this soon, and in the moment she had taken me by surprise. I felt instantly awash in shame. By way of explanation, she said that her friend’s mother had googled me. Google. Fucking Google. For the first time I regret having written a memoir about my illness. She was a toddler when I wrote it. At the time, a handful of friends suggested that it was irresponsible of me; what would my daughter think when she was old enough to read it? Insulted by the question, I was cavalier in my response. Aren’t men allowed to write about their illnesses, their affairs, their acts of aggression and unkindness? Why are women held to a higher standard? Why is our mothering called into question when we reveal something unpleasant? All of my indignation fell away when my daughter looked up at me. I had told the world my story, only now I faced the only person for whom the truth mattered.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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