Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'll Be Yar Now

In possibly the greatest movie ever made (The Philadelphia Story), a woman named Tracy kicks her alcoholic husband out of the house -but not before she snaps one of his golf clubs over her knee:
Tracy Samantha Lord.
She's regal, self-disciplined and intolerant.

She was glad to be rid of her addict.
She moved on with her life and became engaged to a self-made man.  They're on the brink of a wedding when her x-husband shows up.
While away from her, he's gotten into recovery.  He isn't drinking anymore.
While away from her, she didn't get into recovery because she didn't have a problem.
HE had a problem.
Throughout the movie, she's wittingly accosted on just about every side.  She's forced to look into a mirror of sorts.
She's called all sorts of names she doesn't like.  
Her father tells her she lacks an understanding heart -that without it, she might as well be made of bronze.
Her x-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven, calls her a "goddess" -and he isn't being complimentary.
Read these lines, please:

Tracy: You seem quite contemptuous of me all of a sudden.
Dexter: No, Red, not of you, never of you. Red, you could be the finest woman on this earth. I'm contemptuous of something inside of you you either can't help, or make no attempt to; your so-called 'strength' - your prejudice against weakness - your blank intolerance.
Tracy: Is that all?
Dexter: That's the gist of it; because you'll never be a first-class human being or a first-class woman, until you've learned to have some regard for human frailty. It's a pity your own foot can't slip a little sometime - but your sense of inner divinity wouldn't allow that. This goddess must and shall remain intact. There are more of you than people realize - a special class of the American Female.

And then there's George -her fiance.  He "compliments" her in a way that smacks her right in the face and she realizes just what she's become -just the kind of image she's putting off.  It's horrifying.

George: You know, we're gonna represent something, Tracy, you and I in our home, something straight, sound, and fine. Then perhaps your friend Mr. Haven will be somewhat less condescending.
Tracy: George, you, you don't really mind him, do you? I mean, the fact of him...I mean...that he ever was my lord and master. That we ever were...
George: I don't believe he ever was, Tracy, not really. I don't believe that anyone ever was - or ever will be. That's the wonderful thing about you, Tracy.
Tracy: What? How?
George: Well, you're like some marvelous, distant, well, queen, I guess. You're so cool and fine and - and always so much your own. There's a kind of beautiful purity about you, Tracy, like, like a statue...
Tracy: George -
George: Oh, it's grand, Tracy. It's what everybody feels about you. It's what I first worshiped you for from afar.
Tracy: George, listen -
George: First, now, and always! Only from a little nearer now, eh, darling!
Tracy: I-I don't want to be worshiped. I want to be loved!
George: Well, you're that too, Tracy. Oh, you're that all right.
Tracy: I mean really loved.
George: But that goes without saying, Tracy.
Tracy: No. No, now it's you who doesn't see what I mean.
George is on the left.

Yesterday I came to the stark realization that though I haven't snapped an golf clubs or kicked my husband out... I had him convinced he was living with a Goddess.

I was a saint.
HE was a sinner.

I beat it into him every time he confessed.  I showed a gross intolerance for human frailty.  I was better than him, and though I professed to myself that I'd never let it show -I DID -and I did it on purpose.

Two mornings ago, my husband tried to open up to me -tried to show me his frailty.  And I didn't mean to, but I reverted back to a statuesque bronze representation of a woman, grilling him about his motives, adjusting him, fixing him.  He immediately shut me out.  I felt awful for the rest of the day.  
I apologized to him for it.
He told me how hard it is to open up to me.

Unlike Tracy, I did get into recovery.  But that doesn't change the fact that my husband still fears the "withering glance of the Goddess."  He's afraid of what might happen -my reaction, my judgements. 

It suddenly hit me: my husband doesn't feel like he can hurt me.  He's already hurt me so deeply with his addiction that he isn't allowed to cause me any other sort of discomfort in any other area of our lives together, even if keeping his peace does damage on his end.
I've trained him to believe that.
"Listen," I said, "If I'm barking at you, fixing you, crossing a line and lecturing you and you don't like it... you have a right to tell me.  You have every right to hold up your hand and say, 'Please stop' and it will upset me.  It will make me mad.  I'll be uncomfortable and shocked, but you don't have to put up with that behavior from me just like I don't have to put up with bad behavior from you.  You have every right to say something if I'm crossing a line and making you uncomfortable.  You don't just have to put up with it because you're an addict and I'm a saint."
I spit the word "saint" out as if it were the crudest word ever invented on the face of the modern earth.  I hate what I've made out of that word.
He looked stunned.  

It was devastating for me.  I suddenly felt as hopeless as Tracy sounded when she said, "I don't want to be worshipped.  I want to be loved."
I'm healthy enough to NOT let my husband get away with behavior that is detrimental to my healing.  I've found the strength to tell him, "I'm not okay with what you're doing.  Either you stop, you leave, or I leave for a while."
He has the very same right.  
Just because he's the one who hurt me doesn't mean he's PRIMARILY the one responsible for fixing everything.  Does he carry some weight in that area?  Yeah.  But not all.
I carry some.
The Savior carries it all.
My husband can't turn bronze into flesh.  He can't create and install an understanding heart.
The SAVIOR can and the Savior did... 
I'll never forget the feeling of having a stone, cold heart.  I felt so numb inside -so dead.  It eventually melted away and gave way to flesh again, but not because my husband fixed it... not because I fixed it... 
I felt justified in having it.  It was a natural consequence of the scars I bore, and I wore my stone heart with pride.  I let my husband see it whenever he had the chance because it brought him shame and self-loathing and seeing THAT brought me a sense of pride and validation.
For a very little while.
For a long while after that, I realized that my stone heart was heavy.  It scraped my insides and refused to feel emotion like I wanted it to.  I tried to fix it, but I couldn't.
I finally admitted that I had no control over it, and I asked the Lord to please perform a sort of heart transformation.  I asked several times.  It wasn't an immediate thing or an overnight thing... it was grueling to give up my pride, but it was necessary.
And it was worth it.  
I'll never forget the warmth that slowly flooded through my soul as the gradual transformation took place.
I have FELT it.  
My husband is still gun-shy of The Goddess.  I can tell him that I've changed, but it doesn't mean much because past experience has taught him otherwise.
Sound familiar?  My husband can tell me he's changed.  I don't believe him.

So yesterday we faced each other.  Looked into each other's eyes and said something like, "I'll keep going if you will, but don't judge me if I pee my pants out of sheer terror on the way."

And then I said, "Give me chance.  Open up to me even if it's scary and GIVE ME A CHANCE to show you my fleshy heart."
In a sense, I said -as Tracy Samantha Lord said to CK Dexter Haven just minutes before she remarries him after ditching George -"... I'll be yar now.  I promise to be yar."
And I love Dexter's reply, "Be whatever you like.  You're my redhead."

And for the record: my husband has never been jealous of my unbridled love for Cary Grant, and he's bought me a collection of Grant's movies to prove it.  You should come over so we can watch them sometime.
We'll start with The Philadelphia Story.


  1. Wow! Ouch! This really hit home. I FEEL like I show my vulnerability and imperfections, but at the same time, when we are discussing anything RELATED to this issue, I inadvertently jump into goddess mode. I LONG for him to open up and tell me how he is feeling, but so much of me just assumes that I actually already know what he is thinking and what he is going to say. So if he doesn't say just what I want/expect than he must not be opening up. And of course, in regards to ANYTHING related to THIS stuff, I know everything and my husband, sinner that he is, knows nothing! Oy vey! I don't think I do it on purpose and hopefully not 100% of the time, but I definitely do...a lot. Ugh.

    Love this post Alicia - thank you! It's VERY eye opening!

    1. It's so hard not to do it. So very hard! Have you ever seen "The Philadelphia Story"? If you haven't, you should rent it! Even if you're not in to black and white movies, it's really a great movie. My husband hates all my old movies (he'll buy them for me, but he won't watch them with me), but he doesn't mind The Philly Story. It's so funny. Plus you just can't go wrong with Cary Grant AND Jimmy Stewart. It's impossible.