It’s coming up to the one year anniversary of my official separation date. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs this year, which is to be expected, of course. I’ve learned a lot in the last 12 months, and I can honestly say that I’m more emotionally healthy than I’ve been in my entire life. But this hasn’t been the scenario the entire time. If I’m being honest, there were days and weeks that I was a complete mess.
Who wouldn’t be? I mean, if you got separated by one man, dumped by another, and thrust out into the wilds of dating after 25 years, you too would be blubbering, depressed and sad. Maybe even unable to function, full of self-doubt, unable to trust, and 100% frustrated with life. Yes, I ran the gamut. All completely normal, to be sure. But when you’re in it, it’s hard to see that, and to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Much of the time I felt unable to concentrate. I stopped doing 2 of my most favourite lazy time activities: reading and watching TV. I just couldn’t concentrate on anything except Candy Crush. Complete brain fryer. But then, one night about a month ago, as I ate take-out alone in my bed, I turned on Netflix and half-heartedly flipped through the selections. Little did I know I was about to be saved. By a movie. And then another. And another.
Surprisingly, it was movies that helped me see the light. And oddly, all three of the movies that provided me with important lessons I needed to learn are based on books. How about that for convergence?
If you’re separated…watch Under the Tuscan Sun
Based on Frances Mayes’ 1996 memoir Under the Tuscan Sun, this film starring a radiant Diane Lane, is about a recently divorced writer who buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will lead to a change in her life. When Frances Mayes discovers that her husband has been cheating on her and finds her seemingly perfect life shattered, it seems that she may never recover. Unable to write, or really even function, she travels to Italy, and on a whim, buys a crumbling villa in Tuscany. Surrounded by a cast of unusual, but gentle souls, she slowly begins to get her life and perspective back. After a brief affair with a sexy Italian, her new community helps her to heal her own heart.
What I learned: that when you cede a need to control, feel all the feelings, and open yourself up to the possibilities, wonderful things can happen. I also realized that there is life after heartbreak.
If you’ve been dumped…watch Eat Pray Love
Elizabeth Gilbert, portrayed by Julia Roberts, had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having – a husband, a house, a successful career – yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. After taking the leap to end her marriage, Gilbert jumps quickly into an intense rebound relationship. Feeling at odds with her life, divorced and at a crossroads, she steps out of her comfort zone and risks everything to change her life. Without thinking too much about it, she embarks on a journey around the world that becomes an at times self-indulget quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy, the power of prayer and self-forgiveness in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Indonesia.
What I learned: that sometimes you get what you need in the most unexpected of places. That when you hold on to thoughts and emotions that don’t feed your soul, you cannot arise from your own sadness and guilt. That some people come into your life for a reason, and when you think about them, wish them love and light and then let those thoughts go to make room for ones that serve you. And that sometimes beauty can be found in a somewhat unbalanced life.
If you’re new (or not-so-new) to dating… watch He’s Just Not That Into You
Set in Baltimore, He’s Just Not that Into You follows an ensemble cast of Nine as they deal with a host of romantic problems, including finding love, unrequited love, infidelity, and marriage. In all situations, each characters’ hopes for the relationship are thwarted by the differing thoughts, choices, and desires of the other person they’re involved with—or hope to be. The stories are centred around Gigi Phillips, played by an adorable Ginnifer Goodwin, a young woman who repeatedly misinterprets the behavior of her romantic partners. The movie was based on a self-help book of the same name written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, which in turn was inspired by a line of dialogue in Sex and the City.
What I learned: honestly, I received some virtual face-smacking. Dating sucks, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Dating is frustrating and heart-breaking, and often lonely. The truth is that there in every relationship—whether current or potential—there is an uneven balance of power. You’re always at the mercy of another’s choices and wishes, no matter how long you’ve been together. The truth is, you can’t chase a rainbow. If he doesn’t call, if he doesn’t respond, if he doesn’t ever initiate contact, then he’s just not that into you. Even if you don’t want to, move along. Because if it’s right, you’ll know and it won’t be so hard.
Help can come from the oddest places. I’d like to know: is there a movie that has helped you through a difficult time in your life?