Relationships with Women
A Haibun with David H. Rosen


While away for Thanksgiving, I read & loved Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje. I went to visit Barbara (my 90 year-old mother) and Martha (her 84 year-old sister). Martha met me at the Kansas City airport and promptly asked if I was hungry. We ended up at Winsteadt’s and Martha had their hamburger special and a chocolate frosty to drink. I had a BLT and a frosty, too. At lunch she told me that Ruth (her best friend) had died two weeks ago. Martha asked me to help her go through Ruth’s things at her apartment in an Assisted Living Residence. It took hours of necessary sorting to get 2 black trash bags for Martha to take home, 3 for a Homeless Center, 5 bags for the Junior League Thrift Shop, and 8 bags for the Disabled Veterans of America Thrift Shop. She talked about how important it was to do this for closure.

The morning after Thanksgiving, I dreamt of a whole string of women in my life from my mother (who was sleeping in the next room), my first ex-wife Lynn, my second ex-wife Debbie and our three daughters (Sarah, Laura, and Rachel), and all my lovers. It seemed like it would never end, but it did. I awoke and thought, “It has ended.” I felt like a monk. At a recent Clinical Psychology Faculty Party, one of the female graduate students asked me, “Dr. Rosen, where’s your date?” I said, “I’m with my anima (She had taken my classes and been supervised by me so she knew I was with the feminine part of my psyche or soul). She laughed, but in many ways it is not only easier, but more meaningful. The relationship with one’s anima (or muse) is the basis of all creativity. I thought back to the last relationship I was in, which proclaimed in bright neon lights, “Relationships are Difficult.”

Weeks after the end
I saw her on TV—
Half moon lights up a dark sky

I recall a line from Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family, “All of us are in our solitude”—and I think it’s true. But, also true is the way we heal through dreams, prose, and haiku.


Relationships are difficult indeed, as understanding usually comes in hindsight, if not therapy. Passion is easy: it’s there or it isn’t. Compassion, especially when you’ve been wounded, is the challenge. Compassion demands that you open yourself all the way and see that we are all growing together.

Recently, when a relationship ended, if only temporarily, I returned to my life as it was before we met. But around this re-centering, misreadings and defensiveness soiled my mind. While beneath these horizons, the instincts and feelings that originally blossomed into the relationship were still alive.

In the middle of winter,
a flower opens
not checking the date.