I often have this sense that I’m askew. That I’m, somehow… sideways. At a party, I often feel I’m the one standing apart, aside, observing, not really part of the group. Or if I am part of the group, it’s often through a concerted effort. An intentional meld. I get the jokes a second too early, or a minute too late, or not at all. Or I get them wrong, somehow. Oops.
I’ve been watching “Parade’s End”, which is wonderful. Just wonderful. But I just finished it, and the happy ending left me… crying. Miserable. Askew. Because although I’m happy for Christopher and Valentine, and despite having zero sympathy at all for Sylvia, I am left wondering: was I the desperate, horrible wife who didn’t *understand* my ex-husband? Who didn’t *get* him, who didn’t try to meet him halfway, who refused to love him or understand the things he loved and then finally, just… lost him? Had to go, had to move aside to make room for him, his fresh new girl and his fresh, unspoiled, happy, UNCONFLICTED new beginning? Was I his horrible past?
And even though, no, I truly do not believe that, I find it difficult right now to watch such things with an unblemished enjoyment. It’s a blow. It’s a sorrow. Because I am the wife, watching my husband – who grew cold, and quiet, and uncommunicative with me in the final years – find a new life and a new joy with a younger woman. And it is hard to see that relationship played out as a triumph – even though I know, intellectually, that it’s not me, not me, not me.
It still, somehow, hurts me. Is me. Is him. Is her. (I never really knew her before, but all the years of photos of her in his lap, under his arm, snuggled against him, before we were divorced – the fact that he took her out for New Year’s two days after I broke my ribs in Florida in the car accident, just over a week after The Incident in India that was really the final end of our marriage, so while I was laid up in pain at my parents’ house, he was out with her for New Year’s… I think all of that has made her a “Her” in my head. I regret that. I think she is probably not a bad person. However, there it is. “She” is “Her”, and probably will be so for a good long while.)
Anyway. I was thinking about this, and wondering when I started to notice this particular slant in myself. And I realized, it was “Love, Actually”.
I saw it with my mom. It was supposed to be this great feel-good movie — but I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed through everything after Alan Rickman cheats, because I had just, shortly before I saw it, truly understood that Ex’s behavior had crossed a line. Before, it had been suspicions and discontent. Gossip and concerned warnings from other people. But shortly before I saw “Love”, the feeling in the pit of my stomach congealed into a horrified surety that wouldn’t properly leave me until… well. I still feel that way, sometimes, even though we’re divorced, when I’m surprised by a photo of him with her. I breathe and smile and let it go, because that was the whole *purpose* of the divorce. But it’s hard to retrain your heart and your glands and whatever part of your brain processes feelings of betrayal.
Anyway, I couldn’t tell my mom what was going on, because I’d started the long – oh SOOOO long – process of lying, of hiding what was happening, of making Ex look good to everyone around while dying inside… so I just sobbed and sniveled into my Kleenex and tried to pretend it was just sentimentality. So many people love that movie. I hated it. To me, the movie boils down to that one storyline; and it’s not about love. It’s about betrayal, and failure, and being utterly sad and alone in a crowd of happy people. It’s about the terror of truly understanding for the first time that someone who’s supposed to be the closest to you really doesn’t care at all, and is going to hang you out to dry, and you’d better figure out a way to make it work, and triple-quick, because otherwise people are going to notice and ask questions. And then there’ll be trouble.
It’s the story of my life from then until the end of my marriage. Thank god I am rewriting the story now.
Anyway — back to Parade’s End. I’m in a much better place now, and I did enjoy the mini-series a great deal. I think Benedict Cumberbatch is wonderful in it – the whole cast is, really (OMG, anybody else who watched “Boardwalk Empire”, did you recognize the actor who played Al Capone / MacMasters?!?!?!!!?!?!!!! I about died when I figured out that was who that actor was!!) and all in all, I enjoyed it more than “Love”. But… I can’t wait until I can just watch love stories again without that pang, or without the possibility of them just going completely sideways. I’m wistful about it. I know the day will come. I’m hopeful it’s sooner rather than later. :}