The great thing about visitation is that I end up with weekends alone, something I really need every once in a while. My forced aloneness gives me time to watch some things on TV that I don’t necessarily want the kiddos to see. Oh yes, Game of Thrones, I’m talking to you. (One thing I’ve come to realize from watching Game of Thrones, there are some really differently shaped breasts out in the world…men’s and women’s.)
Sometimes I get into the mood to delve deep into my relationship DVD stockpile. The imagination of John Cusack in High Fidelity does a better job at creating hot, toe-curling sex between his ex-girlfriend and the upstairs neighbor than any real couple could ever achieve. Lesson learned!
I have to laugh a little about a real life falling short of imagination. Here’s a true example. One of my charming lady friends was separated from her husband. Said husband had shacked up with some other woman. My poor friend imagined their intense physical relationship and the ensuing happiness that her husband was bringing to some other tramp. So dressed all in black like every good ninja, my friend snuck around to their apartment and peered into the windows one dark and covert night. Would she witness the throws of passion? Would she hear the moans of pleasure?
Instead of the physical enjoyment my friend envisioned, she saw two dumpy people sitting on the couch watching TV. Her husband was clipping his toenails and the other woman was plucking hairs off her chin.
Ah, the grass is always greener….Not really!
Against the advice of Cuckoo Mama, I rented Hope Springs with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Armed with popcorn and Twizzlers and a box of Bagel Bite mini pizzas, I settled myself into the couch cushions for a well-deserved movie night escape. I felt like I needed a good cry.
Cry, I did.
So much so that I now have to schedule a trip to the store to stock up on more Kleenex before my next big Drama sob fest. There’s just something cleansing about those emotional releases.
Back to Hope Springs. The movie follows the lives of a middle-aged married couple. All the kids are out of the house and it’s just them. He sleeps in the guest room, she in the master bedroom. They are married but roommates. As a last ditch effort, Meryl’s character (Kay) schedules a trip to Maine for a one week marriage encounter. Tommy’s character (Arnold) thinks it’s a waste of money and time. She digs in her heels and insists on going.
While in Maine, they visit Steve Carell (as Dr. Feld), who is surprisingly gentle in his role as the marriage counselor. I really liked him in that non-comedic vein. Kay eventually opens up to Dr. Feld about Arnold – “He is everything. But I’m… I’m really lonely. And to be with someone, when you’re not really with him can… it’s… I think I might be less lonely… alone.” Wow.
At one point in the movie, Kay has stormed out of therapy and a stonewalling Arnold is left alone with Dr. Feld. Steve Carell’s character delivers one of the best lines and best thought-provoking questions ever:
Is this the best you can do?
The words in the movie got me thinking about my own life…have I been doing the best I can do? Do I give my relationships my full effort or are they secondary to the squeakier wheels that attach themselves to my wagon, such as work? Who gets the best of me? What is the “best” of me?
I decided to make this my motivating question going forward.
Starting small, I have made a conscious effort to focus on the person I’m with when I’m with someone. If it’s the kids, a friend, or even Husband #2, I’m making a defined effort to put aside distractions and focus on the person I’m sharing a moment with. Yes, sometimes that means turning off the stove burner or pulling back from some task that squeaks for my attention, but the rewards have been great so far. My family relationships are getting stronger and that is important to me.
And I’ve been giving the best to myself as well. More to follow on taking care of yourself while living in the expectations of a family…