Take me away: Gov. Sanford

So I feel pretty silly, not knowing or even suggesting to anyone that Governor Sanford was having an affair, wasn't hiking in the Appalachians as he led us to believe.

The transcript of his confession indicates that he's getting some religious coaching, attends a bible study, and is trying to work this through whatever this is. No matter, he says, his heart is in the right place. We're not judging.

Five months later, still attending to his studies, still consulting with his spiritual advisers, still
no change. Just blather about a walk in the woods, more lies, and another disappearing act or three. More misbehavin'.

Are we out of line to suggest the obvious? Like, Get therapy, Governor Sanford.

Mary Ann Chastain at The Fix-Chris Cillizza's politics blog at the Washington Post for that photograph that what will be, one day, famous, maybe already is.

Man cries. Feels the angst.

During the day the news just got juicier-- while my sympathetic post from this morning, alas, all about getting away, finding a happy medium between tuning out and neglecting one's relationships, did not.

That said, here you go. At least you find out what I did yesterday, knocking off work. And you'll see, apparently, I wasn't the only one duped.

There are ways of getting away, you know, and there are ways of getting away.

You can do what Governor Sanford did, hop into your SUV with your hiking boots to commune with nature; or you can say to your best friend, your main squeeze, that significant other, not just anyone,
Take me away.
Which is what we did, me and FD, took off a weekday to celebrate our 34th anniversary, 35th year of our relationship.

We pretended we were going on our first date and bopped around downtown. The idea was to enjoy the day together, see the people, feel the pulse, but focus on each other. If only for a day. Our phones would still ring and we would take calls, as always. But we could do it, get away, the easy way.

Before getting out of the house, however, FD handed me the Wall Street Journal and said, "Can you kindly make sense of this story for me? As a mental health professional, can you please tell me:

What is going on with this guy!!??"

In case you're unfamiliar with the story, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford took off last Thursday night in a sports utility vehicle, unattended by his bodyguard, for five days. Alex Roth and Valerie Bauerlein at WSJ tell us,
Mr. Sanford has regularly ditched his bodyguards when taking a run or dashing out to Taco Bell or other favorite spots in the past.
He didn't tell anyone where he was going, apparently felt like hiking the Appalachian Trail. The word is that the Governor does this now and again, turns off his phone and doesn't tell anyone where he is going, usually after a legislative session. He needs to unwind.

He has a lot on his mind, and one way to clear it is to take off.

Except that he's the Governor. That's Governor with a capital g, a man many hope to be a US Presidential contender in 2012.**

That's basically the whole story. Man gets tired of it all. Man goes off into the woods, does whatever it is guys do when they need to get away.

Everyone copes differently. And it's likely that the good people of South Carolina could care less. They elected him, and they know the score. The state is a mess and Sanford doesn't want to accept the Federal stimulus package, the President's bail out, doesn't believe in it.

This might be a difficult thing for an elected official to pull off, turning down $700 million dollars.

That's a lot of stress.

First Lady Jenny Sanford of Winnetka, Illinois, by the way, a long way from home, told the Associated Press on Monday that she hadn't heard from him, but that he
"was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids."
And FD wants to know what I think.

I'd say, quick and dirty, that the Sanford marriage is a good example of how far a guy can stretch that rubber band and still not break it. We're not hearing Mrs. Sanford complaining to reporters. In fact, she's avoiding them. A little space can be good for a relationship.

We also hit a wedding last night and balancing hors d'euvres and drinks with two other women, both of them started to tell me this story at the exact same moment. It was hysterical because neither stopped, so it was hard to hear what either of them said, but one surely thought it outrageous that Governor Sanford does this, goes unaccountable for four days running, and the other thought it phenomenal.

His fan, the one who thought it phenomenal, screamed, "Poor guy decides to turn off his phone for a couple of days and everyone acts as if he's committed a federal offense."

Well, leaving the state unattended may not be a federal offense, but it's not exactly model citizenship.

The women are talking at me, and the crowd starts to fill in, everyone's all dressed in their best, one guest more beautiful than the next, and all of a sudden I've got that song in my head, the Natasha Bedingfield song*, the one that goes,
I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine.
I got a love, and I know that it's all mine.

Do what you want, but you're never gonna break me.
Sticks and stones are never gonna shake me.

Take me away: A secret place.
A sweet escape: Take me away.

Take me away to better days.
Take me away: A higher place.

I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine.
I got a love, and I know that it's all mine.

Wish that you could, but you ain't gonna own me.
Do anything you can to control me.
Oh, no.

Take me away: A secret place.
A sweet escape: Take me away.

There's a place that I go,
But nobody knows.
Where the rivers flow,
And I call it home.

And there's no more lies.
In the darkness, there's light.
And nobody cries.
There's only butterflies.

Take me away: A secret place.
A sweet escape: Take me away.

Take me away to better days.
Take me away: A higher place.

The sun is on my side.
Take me for a ride.
I smile up to the sky.
I know I'll be all right.

The sun is on my side.
Take me for a ride.
I smile up to the sky.
I know I'll be all right.
It's not all that hard to do this, you know, get away. It's a psychological thing, or it can be. Sometimes being with a lot of people, being anonymous (or not) in a huge crowd, in the big city, is as good as it gets.

We really did pretend it was our first date, a blind date. I'm by myself at the fountain (in reality he's dropped me off to park the car).

I get a call.

It's him.

"I'm nearing the park," he says. "How will I recognize you?"

"I'm in a black dress, standing by the red sculpture, overlooking the fountain, talking on the phone."

"Okay. I'm wearing a dark straw hat."

"A straw hat?"

"Uh, huh."

I see him approaching and I walk towards him. "Excuse me, are you looking for me?"

"Are you ____?"

"Yes. Did you bring food?"

That's kind of how our dates go.

Anyway, it was fun, people-watching and reminding ourselves what it was like to be young, or merely to be on vacation. For who has time, anyway, even if you're not a governor, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, to go downtown and look at the skyline?

We were too late to get into the Art Institute, but the gardens were open and some high school aged kids were romping around, taking each others' pictures.

And we made it to the that wedding, too, which was wonderful.

So no, we didn't turn off our phones, and miraculously, neither of us had many calls. It was like they knew, not that we told anyone. And he looked great, and he said I did, too. It's nice to dress up and just go.

Millenium Park teemed with people, for it always does, and everyone it seemed was in a good mood.

It's been a long winter and summer's finally here.

Here are a couple of pictures, in case you've never been to Chicago's downtown playground. The monolith with the reddish portrait is a moving picture, the camera is on her, I think, and she's in the park somewhere, for all we know. It's really quite remarkable. You can't tell, maybe, but the monolith is a fountain.

And these kids are just goofing around by the Chinese sculpture exhibit. They're not the art students mentioned above, but they're quite adorable.

So I'm thinking, Governor Sanford, maybe you could do this, too. Grab the missus and take her with you, wherever it is you go, or perhaps compromise, go someplace she wants to go that works for you, too. Get a sitter if you have to, tell someone how to reach you, and go. Start working on a smaller rubber band.

For the sake of the nation, the Republicans would say.

And maybe take in a wedding, while you're at it.

Although something tells me you won't see weddings like this one in South Carolina. But I could be wrong. They're feel-good events, in any case. Most of the time.


*If you're religious and blush easily and don't like seeing alluring women singing in YouTube videos, don't watch this one with Natasha Bedingfield singing Pocket Full of Sunshine.

**This is NOT a political blog, not an endorsement of Gov Sanford for president in 2012. It's just a story and he happens to add the brushstrokes. Thanks, Gov, and I hope someone checked you out for lime disease.


Anonymous said…
I like your voice... the way you write and tell stories... quite entrancing. Thank you :)
Cat said…
How amazing that I may have been one of the people you were people watching!! My husband and I had a mini date yesterday - I took off work early - he met me downtown - we passed by the bean - walked by the art institute and went to the architectural museum to see the model of the city...

It was like when we were dating - a spur of the moment thing that turned out lovely!
Syd said…
Please, don't get me started on Gov. Sanford and the mess that this state is in. He has always been a bit of a fanatic. While I don't espouse his politics, I do like his off beat approach to some things--like bringing two pigs named Pork and Barrel into the State House. And like just ditching everything to go scratch mosquitoes and ticks on the trail. I can dig that kind of off beat stuff. But in other matters IMO, he is stubborn, intractable, and out of touch with the people of the state. I could go on and on but won't. I think that you get the picture.
therapydoc said…
How cool is that, Cat?!

And Syd, I'm so sorry.

Thanks Moon!
Lisa Marie said…
I think there should be a mandatory "disconnection" for all politicians. I also think it is very unfortunate that people are reacting as if he has committed some sort of a crime here. Seems like a perfectly healthy coping mechanism to me.
Anna said…
Obama said as much yesterday, himself. Something about the news cycle being 24/7, but he is not.

If you're ever at the end of Navy Pier, enjoy the moment for me. That's where my husband proposed to me.
Amy said…
What a wonderful story! I'm a bit envious that you and your beloved had such an adventure. How perfectly wonderful and romantic.

I'm terribly homesick now for my sweet home Chicago.
I haven't seen all the work done downtown since I moved away years ago - and I really need to get back there.
Thanks for posting that great little slice of life.
What a great illustration about a principle of professional self-care and how to manage stress. I agree with other commenters here - you have a great "voice" - I add pace and tone. This is a great example of a good blog.
JJ said…
I have a friend whose dad every year took these 1 or 2 week wilderness trips without the fam. His wife didn't like the wilderness thing and they just worked it out that a week or two of space to do his primal-nature-thing was fine for everyone.

They're still very happily married after 30+ years. (But he isn't the governor.)
therapydoc said…
Hey, thanks! You know I sing, too. TAKE ME AWAY. . .A SECRET PLACE. . .
This was great.

My rebbetzin and I were supposed to be doing exactly that mini-date thing today, for the first time in two years, but then there was a death, and that ruled it out... some other day, then.
Lou said…
Let me weigh in after 32 years of marriage. Both my husband and I would do this (well, I would..he likes to hide out at home). That is, I would leave a note on the frig, and say I'll be back in 4 days. Love you.

So now I know (from your posts) that we have a big, wide rubber band. It works for us, and we do things together also. Obviously, after all this time, we have learned to compromise.

If my husband did not give me freedom of action (and I'm not talking infidelity..we do NOT have an open marriage) we would not be married. Something in me needs the autonomy.

I think I like this governor, even if I never heard of him before. A run in 2012,eh?
ejo said…
From today's NY Times:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, apologized in a rambling news conference on Wednesday for having an extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina, ending a mystery over his week-long disappearance that had infuriated lawmakers and seemed to put his rising political career in jeopardy...

Seems he WAS doing his 'primal nature thing' after all.
therapydoc said…
But that doesn't mean it's over! Someone send him my card!
Lou said…
Darn it..once again I give someone the benefit of the doubt, and am duped. OK, I'm hiring a private detective on my husband's next "fishing trip"...LOL
Barfly said…
It's okay, therapydoc, this is the kind of mistake only you would make.
FD said…
ARGENTINA? (I'm just learning about this now.) So in the end, no mystery, just je cest la femme [sic], or in medicalese: Common diseases occur commonly, and uncommon manifestations of common diseases occur more commonly than common manifestations of uncommon diseases.
nashbabe said…
Well, they did just ordain a black woman rabbi who is also a psychotherapist who will be serving a congregation in NORTH Carolina, but then again that wedding ceremony probably wouldn't completely resemble that one. :-)
Syd said…
Therapy Doc, like I said above, don't get me started on Mark Sanford. He has always been an outlier (I refuse to use the word maverick anymore). Now we know he was also just a liar. Sad for his family.
therapydoc said…
Love it, Nashbabe!
Alix said…
It's nice to see you calling a spade a spade, but also making suggestions.

The past week I've been bombarded with people (in my personal life) who all go "hiking" when their marriage hits a dry spell--as though it's too late to revive, upgrade or transform.

Good stuff as always.