Self-Identification   5 comments

So, I made a mistake and went to the movies the other day to see The Danish Girl. By myself. Which turned out to be a really, really bad idea.

Not because the movie was terrible. It was heart-wrenching beautiful. The acting was incredible – both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander deserve multiple awards for their performances – and I wanted to wear most of the costumes myself. The scenery and cinematography were breathtaking, and story did in fact wrench my heart.

To be honest, I left the theater more depressed than I have been in a very long time.

For me the title could be read in two ways. On the one hand, the Danish girl is Lili, the girl born into the wrong body whose life begins when she accepts who she is. On the other, it could also be Gerda, the girl whose life is ripped apart as she struggles to understand what has happened to the person she loves.

Three guesses who I identified with.

I think what got to me the most was the helplessness I could see in Gerda’s eyes as the story unfolded. She’s watching the foundation of the life she knew disappear right in front of her and forming into a new one that stands on the exact same spot, except that it is completely different and doesn’t include her. And there’s nothing she can do about it. Nothing.

I get that. In spades.

You’d think after two and a half years I would be used to my new life. I’m not. I have grown enough to understand parts of it are better for me. Healthier. Less stressful. I’m not happy, but since I’m pretty sure I wasn’t happy before, either, that part is a wash.

I know everyone is different, but I just don’t get how other people manage to adapt. Tabloids, advice columns, and everyday life are full of stories of people who find happiness and love, in some cases before their divorces are final. People whose splits caused just as much – or more – upheaval in their lives and whose divorces came after mine have moved on with their lives and have either met someone new or embraced being single. So, why can’t I?

I’ve tried the saying yes thing. It wasn’t me. I’ve tried online dating, and while I’ve made a few friends that way, the whole experience – while giving me some really great fodder for the novel I hope to write someday – has mostly just left me feeling uncomfortable and disillusioned. I have found new hobbies and at the same time have discovered, of course, many of the things that interest me happen at times I’m either working or parenting.  I’ve even considered pulling up my roots and moving somewhere new, but I like my job and my house, and, frankly, that decision affects more than just me and wouldn’t be fair to my son.  And yes, I have discussed it with him.  It’s just not the right choice at this point in time.

All told, it makes me wonder what’s wrong with me. I couldn’t get my marriage to work, I can’t get used to being single, and – divorce notwithstanding – I’m definitely not ready for a new relationship. I can’t go back, but I can’t move on. I’m stuck in a holding pattern. And the fact I can’t see an end to it simply adds to the depression.

There’s a symbolic scene at the end of the movie, where Gerda is finally able to put her past to rest, where you get the feeling she is going to be able to move on with her life. It’s meaningful and beautifully filmed and is supposed to fill the viewer with a sense of one door closing and another opening for her.

Supposed to.

All it left me with was the fear I’m never going to get to that point, that I’m never going to get to the ‘happy’ ending where suddenly everything I’ve gone through makes sense and I find it has made me a better, stronger person. I know most of the process is mental, and apparently my emotions and brain just haven’t gotten there yet, but this leaves me with questions I can’t answer. Like why the hell is it taking me so long? And will I even actually get there eventually? Because honestly, I don’t like feeling like this.

The problem is most days it feels like the answer is a resounding no. That my brain simply doesn’t function like most other people’s and that’s why I’m stuck in this G-d awful suspended animation.

One thing I’ve always known about myself is I don’t like ambiguous endings.  When a book ends, I want to know how things resolve.  Basically, I like things that have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and as much as I enjoy movies, I’m sick to death of being stuck – metaphorically, of course – in a dark room with no windows, doors, or lights and with no bloody clue as to where the exit is. So while I’m probably good with my current reading material all biographies and most fantasy novels run from start to finish with very little ambiguity about the endings – in terms of movies, I guess I’ll be sticking with Pixar and the MCU for a while. At least with those stories, I can forget about my life for a bit. And right now, that sounds really appealing.

Note:  First off, my mental state has improved since writing this.  Secondly, while I am publishing this on my blog, I am not sharing it to Facebook.  While I needed to get my feelings onto paper, so to speak, I’m not sure I’m up for the reactions I figure this post would get with  a wider airing.  I know a few of you have subscribed and will see it regardless, so please know I am feeling better.  And thanks for reading.

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Posted December 30, 2015 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

5 responses to “Self-Identification

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  1. Burn bridges not books!

  2. My take? You are in mourning — for what was, or could have been, for all the plans actually made and those implied. There is no time limit on mourning, it is as individual as you are, and there is no path that can be charted for all people. You are helping others grow, though that is NOT something that is desired, it is a side effect . . . my two cents and the fact that you are able to write as you do, means a lot.

  3. Although our circumstances are radically different, I really identify with this struggle. For me it was not divorce but lyme disease that stole the life I thought was mine. Ironically, that life went down in flames when
    I finally accepted I could not get my MLS because I could not work even part time. I spent the next couple of years living in the twighlight place you write about.

    I really believe far more people feel the way you do, but they just won’t admit it to themselves or to anyone else. That wonderful, American “can-do” mentality, the one that demands we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, has turned the problems of a broken society into personal & private failings. You have not failed. Rather, you have been failed. We are not meant to raise children alone, or live in houses/apartments in such isolation from the other houses/apartments, burdens which are shared in a healthy society have become the responsibility of the individual. You are not alone in your feelngs and experience, you ate just more willing than most to admit how awful this can feel.

    While not a Buddhist, I have gotten tremendous comfort from the writings of Pema Chodren and other Western Budhist teachers. Tara Block’s Radical Acceptance is great. I started to experience joy when I began living the mantra “It really is this bad, and it probably won’t get better.” It sounds crazy, but that phrase has allowed me to stop trying to make my life better (said through clenched teeth). If my circumstances are as bad as they feel & are staying the same, I get to just see what is in front of me in this very moment which brings pleasure.

    Want to join me as I read a good book by the light of my old life burning down?

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