I have a problem with a woman. A particular one. And getting worse.

For the past thirty years, Emma Bovary has come daily to my medical office. She sits down at the opposite side of my desk, looks me straight in the eye and starts her talk with the exact same words: “I am emotionally frustrated.” Even in our hyper-connected age, she still cannot get her message through.

As the tragic trifecta of memory, loving and the passing of time relentlessly gnaws at her soul, she has been nagging me to transcribe her deep concerns. The Spanish language differentiates between the “escritor”—someone that writes inspired by elevated thoughts and feelings—and the “escribidor”—a clandestine agent that struggles with words and sinks in dark undercurrents. I am Emma’s escribidor—squabbling with muses and fighting with demons.

When I read the review of “Gett: The trial of Viviane Ansalem” in the New York Times I had the impression that Emma’s anguish was being re-enacted in a Kafkian environment. A Jewish woman is not allowed to divorce her pious husband because the rabbinical court does not grant her the needed release from her vows (the gett). Religious authorities do not pay heed to her complaint: she has had an unhappy marriage and wants out.

As Ronit Elkabetz turns her porcelain face—framed by an impossibly dark hair—sideways, she directs her implacable gaze at the theatre’s fourth wall. She is looking at us and demanding an answer. “Why are you doing this?”

Society’s institutions, designed by and for men over the centuries, have been persistently, unabashedly ignoring women’s complex emotional frustrations. It’s not only about sex. It’s not only about money. It’s not only about career.

Paradoxically when we tried to find material over the subject in the web, we got a paltry return of loosely connected articles that do not address the issue.

Is there some kind of conspiracy to conceal the real extent of this disease?

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

22 thoughts on “The hushed plague

    1. Like many things that daily confront use a sense of apathy is one of the demons that haunts us all.
      I found my solution, every morning for the last 35 years my first thought has been how can I have fun today and at least make someone else laugh.

  1. I remember what my literature teacher in high school said when we did Madame Bovary, with most men attacking her. How can they not right? She is married and has a kid. She’s a liar and a cheater. Then the teacher suggested we try to defend her for a change (pros and cons). She’s bored and restless (can’t blame her), stifled by life in a small town, she’s misunderstood, she chooses to remain true to herself by choosing passion and real life, no matter what. A conscious one.
    What advice would you give your patient doctor M, faithfulness, divorce or 7 cheat days a week?

    1. Are you still here Bojana? We just finished eating a delicious dish of ravioli with my superb tomato sauce with shrimp and scallops. Want a little dear? Before I go have my traditional nap I will tell you that “Madame Bovary” was and still is my favorite novel, the initial source of inspiration for my first novel “Madame D.C.-Three voyages.” To find an answer to your candent question you’d have to take the plunge into my writings. Bonne chance!

    2. The same problem.arises when most American kids come in contact with “Anna Karenina” for the first time. Even girls don’t understand why a woman would run from a wealthy lifestyly to live a passionate love. Teachers should stop and explain much more the emptional dimension of humans, and females in particular. Hey perhaps my book “Emotional frustration- the hushed olague” will become a mandatory reading assignment in Senior High School in a few years…Pour quoi pas?

  2. Good morning in USA, just a few words to share my feelings about emotional frustration. I would like to have some examples, if possible. I don’t know : am I emotionaly frustrated? I have too many, and too strong emotions for sure. Incredible joy, and deepest depression. It’s not easy to deal with these “extra” feelings in this society that wants us to be always efficient, competitive, never hurt, never down.
    We search for love in our computers, we have hundred of “friends” on social network, and we never have been so alone.
    I take treatment for my mood disorders, I spent weeks and months in psychiatric clinics.
    Am I really crazy? Or simply too “human”?
    Please forgive my bad english.

    1. Bon jour ma chère amie de l’autre cote de l’Atlantique. Happy Mother’s day to you! Thank you very much for your kind and pointed commentary. You’re right. we have never been more connected and more alone in our lives. Why is that? The inter-personal relationships have lost value as we concentrate on watching our screens. You certainly are not crazy. You are just too sensitive and the medical system cannot accommodate you properly because it would take more “time” and “effort”. Please follow our discussion as we will address several interesting issues regarding this “hushed plague.” Your English is perfect. Un bros bisou. Au revoir.

      1. Hello from France…. Here waiting for your novel, I know you put all your heart in it, and thank you so much for caring about women’s emotions….. take care, Véronique

      2. Hello again. I will put some pages of the novel in this page soon. Thank you for your words of encouragement and not leaving me alone. Women take care of us from childbirth until death; a little attention and consideration when they are hurting so badly is the least we should give them. I will keep discussing these issues. C’est parti!

    1. Dear Noel Marie: good morning and thank you very much for your nice words. I am doing this for you, my dear daughter, and all the marvelous women that have made my life so much easier and happier in this valley of tears. Un beso grande. Papi

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