With the start of a new school year and work really heating up, this past month has been a particularly hard one for me. These last 26 days have been quite a trial, but the older we get, the saner and more sober we become I suppose. Everything is best seen as a learning experience, right?
Now I don’t get much downtime between hitting the books, running around for work and writing for The Hudsucker and Womanista, but when I do, I’m one of those found lounging out on the couch with my Colts blanket. This past week I had a chance to catch up on some TV shows and movies, including This Is Where I Leave You. It was good and I really liked it. However, a particular dialogue between the main character, Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) conversing with his sister, Wendy (Tina Fey) made me think of the relationships we build with the people we “love.”
Judd: Three months ago, I had a great job and a nice apartment and I was in love with my wife. Wendy: No, you weren’t. Judd: No? Wendy: No. She was sleeping with somebody else for a year and you never noticed. How in love could you have been?
And that’s when it hit me. Everything that had ever happened to me in the last six months became even more apparent and made me realize how much greater of a position my heart is in now than it had been before.
As a movie based on a novel by Jonathan Trooper—an author, whose novels stem from personal experiences and wisdom built from his own life, dealing with love, divorce and cheating—this was more than just Hollywood dialogue. It had foundations rooted hard in truth and anyone who has been in a similar situation, if smart enough, can see the difference.
Seriously, how could you say you love someone, be with them for that long, and never notice such a deep deception?
If you love someone, you notice everything about him or her and nothing is ever really kept a secret. That’s the whole point of marrying your best friend—everything is shared and nothing is judged upon. There needs to be a safe zone between the two of you to talk about everything and anything so that voids are not wedged between you, driving you both to wonder what the other is keeping hidden. Which begs the question, if someone is cheating on their spouse, are you both at fault?
It made me wonder about the “Tom and Daisy” I know. The ones who act out in their relationship and end up hurting others because they got caught or it wasn’t exactly the way they imagined it. But it also made me think about their dynamic and how poorly constructed the two fatuous individuals that they were based their union on. It made me think how the two of them from broken homes, one more slovenly than the other in their upbringing, only did what they wanted so early on because they wanted to have an ally against their family. Through pretention, they wanted to defy their family history and decided to throw away a real shot at their life purpose for the heat of the moment.
I realized whatever happens in life, I don’t understand Tom or Daisy any better than I understand myself. After how he treated me last fall and all the work I have asked to be showered with to aid in my healing process, I still love him.
It’s odd because everything he had shared with me since 2013 was a lie and I knew it. There were times I called him out on it, to which he would deny everything and sugarcoat it because he wanted something—he always wanted something and because I loved him, I gave it to him for six years. Sure, I started noticing him lying early on to me, like very early on—and I always tried my hardest to think twice before agreeing and letting my guard down because it was a habit he started our relationship with. But then there were moments when he was as open as the cornfield in his backyard, sitting in the tree he would later cut down to a stump.
When we would spend the day together or even the night, it was those moments where I knew he was himself and he was honest. I could hear it in his voice. I could feel it deep in him. But things had changed after one evening in March, when the moon shone super bright. The lies started in heaps after that night and most of it was for controlling purposes—because then he could govern what he didn’t have. It was like, having his cake and eating it too.
Looking back, I was too passive and my goal this year is to not be one of those “Daisy” types who is passive and lets it all happen because she’s insecure and doesn’t want to end up like her family tree of bungles. Love made the two of them partners in narcissism and because of their history, and as the haughty types that they are, they felt they were the first people in their family to get it exactly right.
Well, they’re wrong. They’re wrong because you don’t neglect someone you love and create a void, and then you don’t cheat on someone you love to create an even bigger void. Go on vacations, go on trips, head to the shores, and tan all you want, kiss in photo booths (and smile a little, huh?) but actually be in love.
If you love someone so madly and deeply, but still not know what they’re up to—you’re doing it wrong. I know people who suspect their spouse is cheating on them, and what do they do? They decide to hit keywords in Google. But if you’re suspecting your spouse of cheating on you in the first place, try looking at yourself and see how far in denial you’re in because something is wrong in your relationship if you’re suspecting them and Googling them the way they probably don’t want to be Google’d.
Looking at it from a denial point-of-view, so many times, it’s about abandonment or loneliness. We’re all terrified of being alone—but in terms of the Tom and Daisy types who suspect one another but still stay in their relationship, they’re motivated to stay by that fear because they grew up with it. And they don’t want to live in that realm where it is existent because that would prove they never got it right and their ally was their greatest enemy.
As Tropper says in his novel, “This Is Where I Leave You,” contentment, in life, in relationships—all of it, is a matter of willpower. You either look at what you have right in front of you, what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you’ve lost or can never ever have. Sure, social media doesn’t help when your beautiful best friends sprout a beautiful family with beautiful munchkins, but things happen in life.
And like never noticing a cheating spouse who might have been cheating for a year, five years or even a decade, people get lost along the way and love breaks. It doesn’t mean you both failed, it just means things change—and it’s okay to be alone. Get comfortable being alone because it can empower you and lead you to realizing how much stronger you really are.