Big Little Lies

This is one of the few times where I watched the show/movie before I read the book. I was about half way through the HBO limited series namely because of my celebrity doppelganger, Reese, was starring in it when I picked up the novel at Target.

I read it within two days. That is, after long hours at both jobs while preparing to present my research for my dissertation next month. Oh, and, take that crazy $400 praxis exam. Life has been a little crazy lately especially when you add in our wedding and selling our townhouse– we’ll recover next year..right?

Big_Little_Lies_Cover

Anyway, despite the insanity, I found myself reading Big Little Lies on my lunch break, in my car waiting for my next class to start and even in bed after these crazy long days. Last night, I read until I literally fell asleep. It’s been awhile since I was just so into a book.

I liked how you knew someone was going to die, but you didn’t know how or why. You learn fairly early on that is it going to be Perry or Celeste because this is the story of domestic violence, wrapped up rather nicely in its white-bread vanilla topping. I was just shocked by the ending, of which one was to die and more importantly, who the killer was and why.

It’s a shock, but in so many ways, it is that shock that up-heaves the vanilla topping and underneath it, you find yourself exposed to the raw chunky violence that as Celeste herself says, “This can happen to anyone.”

It’s a powerful book. I think any young woman needs to read it and then watch the limited series on HBO. It made me think of my own time within an abusive relationship.

I can’t even really say it was a relationship, it was a fleeting moment in my life, thankfully. It was after that big love that I shut down after. He was the first guy I really attempted to date. In many ways, he was the first person I attempted to care about, to actually try with. In the end it lasted only a couple of months. I ended it, I totally cut him out. It took me a few tries to get to that point though, because much like Celeste, it was like I was dating two different people: there was the over indulging side who appeared protective and kind, going out of his way to me and my friends, but then there was that time alone where like a switch that person went away and in his place was someone who enjoyed hurting other people, especially when he felt wronged or embarrassed or betrayed. All of which seemed to happen more in his head than in reality.

There had been hints leading up to his eventual full-turn, but he was good in that he was so manipulative that he would have you second guessing. Was that real? Did he just say or do that? No, he had to be joking because look how sweet he is now, every relationship has its bumps, but maybe this is worth that bump? [it’s not] Abusers are great like that, they are excellent liars because I think to a point, they believe what they are saying and feel entitled to whatever they can steal from someone– materially, physically and emotionally.  It’s almost like they know that they are doing these awful things, but in their minds, they make up for it because they are so amazing for the next week or two before the next bout of abuse. One thing he was always good at, was how quick to tell you what a wonderful, giving person he was even to those that wronged him which largely were women from his past.

When Celeste visits a counselor, she tells her that is takes someone six or seven times before they leave an abusive situation. I believe that. While my experience was relatively short, within that time it took me about three times before I finally did. When I did it, I didn’t even tell him. We had parted ways earlier that day, I knew it was important that he think he still “had” me. He kissed me on my check and asked me if everything was alright, I knew he knew that it wasn’t and that he had taken it to an entirely new level that morning. This was the calm following the storm.

I assured him how wonderful he was, and how wonderful we were, trying not to gag the entire time I did so. He has already revealed himself and I had already found out his other secrets, he was done but he didn’t know how far I knew or how much strength I really had. My next stop was to AT&T where I blocked him from all contact. Then I went straight home and followed suit on social media. I hadn’t even thought about e-mail, because who in 2011 e-mailed anymore? Apparently him. It began so nicely as always, then when I never responded they got nastier and nastier until he dumped me. That was the one piece of humor I got out of the entire ordeal. I had cut all contact, ghosted him for lack of a better word and here he was, after calling me all kinds of names, after threatening me and the like, all he had left was to tell me how it was over and it felt so good to be single. I burst out laughing at that point, because dude, you’d been single for awhile by then.

The next stop was to the printer to print off all of his harassment and then to the police station to finalize my report that I had started several days before.

This really can happen to anyone.

Love is, actually all around.

I make no grand illusions towards my 20’s and dating. Point blank: they sucked. I was often lost, broke and dating some wannabe. That was the majority of my 20’s until I wised up and held true to my standards.

I read a lot during that period in my life. In college, I was obsessed with Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife because I largely envisioned Colin Firth and all of the hot things that occur throughout that insanely long novel. More importantly though, it was the sort of relationship I envisioned for myself when I found the right man to have it with. It was passionate, loyal and brave with such a dedication to the other person that throughout the pages, many dramatic and daring things occurred to keep Lizzy and Darcy together. Though, Phil and I aren’t having dagger fights with scummy period men and riding horses bareback…or really riding horses at all, the sentiment is still there within our relationship.

6febe52758f076904485fe19d07ec8df

Mr. Darcy a la “Lost in Austen.”

When we became engaged, I had no doubt in my mind that yes was the answer and that this is the man I would stay with until death. Having that realization though, made me think back to my past and I became nostalgic for things, people and places that were no longer a part of my life. I also would get sad over some pretty stupid stuff like when my toaster oven from my apartment finally went. It was cheap and we use it a lot, but I was sad that that was another piece of my life before now that was gone. I know, it’s a toaster, get over it, but I did have a couple minutes of mourning over the toaster.

I picked up Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and thumbed through it. Out fell papers from my first teaching job where I somehow became a french teacher. I laughed, and turned to the front, eager to re-read and picture my new Mr. Darcy courtesy of Lost in Austen. That’s when I saw it. The dedication page. I had never realized it before, because why would I ever have a need to? The author had dedicated it “to Phil.” Years before, I even knew Phil it seems that I was waiting for him.

I made note of it and put the book down, thinking it was just too weird of a coincidence. Fast forward to the weekend where we’re sitting at our church with our priest, formalizing all of the initial paperwork for our marriage. We’re getting married in the Byzantine church so Phil had to have all of this documentation from his Roman catholic church including his confirmation papers. I was half listening because it wasn’t my turn to speak when Phil got to the point of his confirmation name.

“Matthew,” he says to the priest. All of a sudden, I was listening again and laughing to myself.

Of course it would be. I spent so much of my early to mid-20’s subconsciously dating idiots because I had loved someone named Matthew. I told Phil about it later, over lunch. And just like Phil will always do, he took my hand and told me,

“You were just waiting for me like I was waiting for you. See, you knew it would be a Matthew, you were just wrong about which one. ”

Living the life and the love I have now, just makes me realize how much of us was actually already all around me until the universe knew the timing to finally let us meet.