“The people I love keep going away from me and it hurts” -Angelina Jolie as Gia, 1998.
Does it mean I’m crazy if I can relate to Gia’s loneliness and heartbreak and her willingness to numb the pain however she could? Or if I can see how Marya Hornbacher could starve herself in “Wasted” because the deprivation of food hurt less than her internal pain? Or if I can understand how Winona Ryder’s Suzanne could go a little nuts and be so self destructive in “Girl, Interrupted”?
I don’t think so. I think it just makes these written characters, all three of them based on real people, all the more real. We all face heartbreak and hurt. I spent two years studying psychology only to emerge with a degree and the understanding that we are all walking around profoundly screwed up in some way. As a mother, I could argue that kids don’t come with directions and we simply try to live a good life as we drag them along. As a daughter, I could argue that parents never seem to get it right and 9 times out of 10, people end up walking into their adult life severely screwed up from their parent’s mistakes.
In the movie “Gia”, we as the audience don’t see that defining moment in her life when the tape was recorded in her head. We only see as a young adult that she was terrified of being alone, and when faced with agonizing heartbreak, she numbed it however she could…sex, drugs, work. There is not a single person alive that hasn’t faced the same anguish heard in her as she wails in mourning after her mentor’s death. If every one of us could let loose a howl of utter and encompassing anguish at the moment our heart breaks, how much good would that do for your soul? At the very least, it would share it with anyone within earshot. Sometimes, that’s all you need is to be heard.
Otherwise, one might lock their pain up so deep inside of them that it eats them alive, leaving them starving for breath, or life, or compassion as they starve themselves the way Marya did. “Wasted” is a journey through the doorway of an eating disorder, sharing the tape in her head, and the ordinary beginning of it all. Built on a foundation of dysfunction and finally seeping insidiously into her everyday existence until Marya was left with a lifetime of staring at food and listening to that god-awful tape in her head. I understand that tape. I’ve heard it. The one that tells you that you’re not even worth the time or space it takes to eat a meal.
Suzanne learned that sometimes you have to stop playing the games and putting up the right face, and just be real. It took her over a year in the institution in “Girl, Interrupted” to realize that she had to save herself and in order to do that, she had to stop diving into the bullshit polite society demands and find real.
I can be witty and funny, and even find a way to laugh through things that might otherwise send me towards a bell tower with a rifle, but occasionally I need to be real too. For you. For me.
Funny is driving through New England with Dera the deranged doggy staring at me in the rear view mirror for two days. Not funny is having my heart broken because somehow I ended up the bad guy in a situation I didn’t even know existed, and being deceived, and hurt by those I trusted.
Read these books, see these movies (yes, they’re all chick movies and stuff) so you can recognize true heartbreak, true hurt. Then you can really see what’s worth being laughed at.