Thursday, May 21, 2015

Emotional Toolbox.

A couple weeks back, after a brilliantly productive Sunday morning and afternoon, I had a brilliantly unproductive evening, assuming watching a six-episode marathon of The Slap isn't what you'd call very productive. I do try to extract a lesson or two from whatever I'm watching, even if it's nonsense TV like Teen Mom (don't have sex and/or get pregnant), Secrets and Lies (don't lie and/or lie about killing people), or The Real Housewives of New York City (do not invite other people's house guests to brunch). But back to The Slap.

I noticed I was hitting the rewind button more often than I normally do, not because I couldn't make out what the characters were saying, because I was so intrigued by the realistic nature of the subject matter and dialogue, respectively. I pretty much memorized one conversation between Blythe Danner's character, Virginia, and her daughter, Anouk, played by Uma Thurman (that's how many times I replayed it). Lucky for y'all, I'm typing it below, from memory. (For the most part.)

A quick context recap: Anouk thinks her best friend's husband is having an affair.

Anouk: "She's my best friend, I feel I should tell her."

Virginia: "Oh really, you do? Hm."

Anouk: "I guess that's what I'm asking."

Virginia: "Well, you know I don't give advice but since you asked, you saw the wrong thing. You could have been looking at uh, a purple finch, or your watch, or...into the eyes of this Jamie person. You had bad luck. And people have bad luck all the time!

Virginia (Cont'd): The point is, you really think telling her will make things better? Because I think exposing people to painful realities isn't all that great! There's nothing you can do to make it better."

Anouk: "But then I'm lying to a friend--"

Virginia: "Saving someone you love from upsetting news is not the same as lying. Denial is a useful tool, darling..."

My brain starts churning even as I type that conversation.

I've actually been in this situation before, and it's certainly not an easy one. I was the recipient of information I didn't ask for; rather, it was brought to me quite unexpectedly, and from someone I didn't speak with on a regular basis. I dug around for more concrete, factual information (AKA "proof"), versus coming at my friend with mere gossip, since I had planned to tell her. My mother advised against it and a good friend of mine agreed--I went ahead and told my friend anyway. The morally headstrong Krista told me it was "the right thing to do." (I used to listen to her all the time.)

It was tough though. I mean, do you sit back and watch your good friend commit to a lifetime with someone if there's a possibility he's being unfaithful? Or do you turn a blind eye and mind your own business? As I mentioned, I told my friend, which I'm not too sure I'd have done today. She thanked me though, and even continued eating her ice-cream as I told her. Cool as a cucumber, that one, while I was the one worked up about it all. After a quick discussion with her fiancé, the case was closed. I never asked a word about it, she never mentioned it again, and they were married later that year.

I don't really react to things as strongly now as I once did (cue quote "it is not necessary to react to everything you notice"), and I think my tolerance for people being human has increased a bit over the years. That's not to say I justify people's actions when I feel they are wrong, I guess I have a better understanding now that people will do stupid things, is all. And doing stupid things doesn't mean you're a bad person, or that you don't love others around you--it just means you made a poor decision. I've learned (the hard way) that it's not my job to expose people, nor influence anyone's opinion of the potential exposed. At the end of the day, people are going to do what they want and believe what they want, and I need not be some Virtuous Superhero and let them. Also, I'm sure I can make room for denial in my toolbox--somewhere in between patience and empathy.  

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