I’ve always loved horror movies, but they very rarely scare me. I don’t know if it’s because I have a sick sense of humor or because I was raised to be tough or because so many horror movies are not well done (probably a combination of all three of these factors), but I usually find horror movies to be hilarious. Whenever I see a monster come out to attack their next victim or a character gets their head chopped off or something along those lines, I can’t help but laugh. I find most horror movies to be on the same level as comedies as far as humor is concerned…
With that being said, there is one movie series that stands out as being the only series to ever actually completely freak me out and scare me: the Saw series. I never once laughed while watching the movies in this series. I was completely freaked out, and yet I could not stop watching them. I watched the entire series on Netflix within about two days’ time. Since these movies left such a strong impact on me, it made sense for me to re-watch the original Saw film and analyze it in light of what I’ve learned in class about the horror genre so I could see just what it is that makes these movies so appealing and how I might choose to apply these principles to my own writing.
The first element that works well in this film is the fact that it’s extremely fast-paced. The movie opens with two men, Dr. Lawrence Gordon and a man that simply goes by “Adam” as being locked into a very dirty, almost archaic bathroom together. There is also a dead, bloodied body lying on the floor. Adam and Dr. Gordon have no memory of how they got there and they are also chained to the wall unable to escape. At first they also do not know how the man was killed or what happened to him. The last thing that Dr. Gordon remembers is going to work the night before and the last thing that Adam remembers was going to sleep the night before. This is scary because the characters were just living ordinary, regular lives and now they are in a very unordinary environment. It makes us think it could happen to us, too. There is also a bit of the fear of the unknown because Dr. Gordon and Adam don’t know how they got there or what’s going to happen next. Right away we as viewers know that something is drastically wrong and we are drawn in to the story because we want to know how they got there and how they might escape.
The entire story line and plot for the movie is also so expertly done. Many people would argue that Saw falls under the category of body horror, which I agree with since Dr. Gordon saws his foot off in an attempt to escape from his chains, Adam’s blood is poisoned, and Amanda has to solve a puzzle or risk having her jaw explode, but I’d also argue that this movie can also fall under the categories of police procedural and psychological horror. It’s police procedural because there is a mystery that must be solved throughout this movie. Detectives/police have been working on a case for a while now where a man known as “Jig Saw” has murdered and tortured several different individuals. His motive is that he wants to teach people to be appreciative of their lives. Jig Saw was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that is slowly killing him. He is very angry and bitter by this news and doesn’t think that others deserve to live unless they can appreciate the beauty of life. For those who manage to survive Jig Saw’s cruel games of torture, their views on life are forever changed, which some could argue is for the better. Since they were so close to death, they realize how easily life can be taken from them so they gain a stronger appreciation of it.
Even though Jig Saw is a horrible person who brutally kills and/or tortures people, I find myself almost sympathizing with him and liking his games at times. The idea that people should be appreciative and grateful to be alive is something that few people would argue against; Jig Saw just goes about it in the wrong way. The film also falls under the category of psychological horror for this reason. It messes with our minds as viewers. Are we really sympathizing and feeling sorry for a mass murderer? Furthermore, the story messes with the minds of the main characters, Dr. Gordon and Adam by putting them up against each other. In order to live, someone must die. In Dr. Gordon’s case, he must kill Adam if he wishes to allow his wife and his daughter to live. In Adam’s case, he must murder Dr. Gordon’s wife and child if he wishes to live since he now has poison in his blood that will kill him at a designated time if he does not complete this task. The characters often have to consider morality and ethics and what’s more important or valuable – their own lives or the lives of others around them. They have to do extremely immoral things if they want to live, and sometimes they also have to do those things just so the people closest to them may live. These are difficult decisions for anyone to make, and they also don’t have time to think through their decisions. Time is of the essence; wasting just 1 minute could be the difference between life or death.
The main takeaways I got from this film that I could apply to my own writing is to get to the action quickly, and have a strong/unique story line that keeps the reader’s attention. The puzzles are disturbing but entertaining to watch because you want to see if the characters will be able to solve them in time and be sparred their lives. They also set the scene for each film after, allowing all of the films in the series to fit together nicely. In writing this would be a great strategy to use if you were planning to write a book series rather than just one stand-alone novel. The film also has several highly graphic scenes such as the opening scene where the characters are in complete isolation with the exception of each other’s’ company in a filthy bathroom, all of the blood from the dead/dying characters, and the scene where Amanda must violently mutilate a dead man’s body and remove his intestines in order to get the key to remove the device from her jaws before she is killed. In order to achieve the same or similar effects in writing I would need to include very strong details for the setting and use very strong descriptions so that my reader could “see” the horror in each scene.
Wow, long time, no post. Am I right? I apologize for being so quiet on here lately. My initial plan was to dedicate much of my summer to get back into blogging and updating my marketing and deaf awareness social accounts, but then I ended up going all over Pennsylvania and spending a lot of time in Chicago and investing more time into studying and before I knew it summer was over and none of those goals got accomplished. But hey, I’m here now and that’s something, right?
Anyways, guys – we need to talk about Coraline.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Coraline it is a really creepy and really really really freaking weird children’s novel written by Neil Gaiman. This book was published in 2002 and became a movie a few years later (I’m not sure when exactly but I want to say the movie came out around 2007…does that sound about right?)
I was assigned to read this book for my Seminar I course this semester. When I found out it was going to be my required reading I went and watched the movie on Netflix right away. I have heard a lot about the movie and have been meaning to watch it for some time. On the surface, Coraline reminded me a lot of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, two movies I always really loved. Now that I know that Coraline had many of the same producers and masterminds that those other movies had, it makes a lot of sense.
I thought the movie was interested. I liked it and couldn’t stop watching it, but I also thought it was one of the weirdest, creepiest movies I’ve ever seen in my life. I love horror movies but the only ones that ever really did a good job of scaring me are the Saw movies. I found most other horror movies to be completely comical.
Coraline was scarier to me than any of the Saw movies were.
…And the book was better than the movie but still somehow even more horrifying to me. I don’t know if I loved it or hated it. I thought it was super freaking weird, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t have to have the book read for class until September 20th. Last night was probably the worst time I could’ve read it since I was running on about 3 or 4 hours of sleep total (isn’t grad school fun?) but I started reading it during my commute to work earlier in the day and I couldn’t put it down. Despite how tired I was, I couldn’t sleep not knowing what was going to happen to Coraline next. It’s been awhile since a book captivated me as much as this one did, so there’s no denying that despite my concerns about the book’s weirdness, it was extremely well written.
But, Mr. Gaiman, I have a few questions for you now, none of which were included in your little Q&A session for the book’s 10 year anniversary edition. Here are my questions:
1. Why in the world is this book considered a children’s book?
I have friends that have young kids who have seen the movie version of Coraline and love it. If you’re three or even five years old and can handle Coraline, more power to you because despite your young age, you are stronger than I am apparently. I would never tell my friends or anyone not to let their kids read or watch this movie. It’s so well crafted that I don’t think you should deny a child the right to watch the movie or read the book if they want to.
But, at the same time when I have kids of my own I don’t think this is ever going to exactly be one of my reading recommendations for them. I might even be the kind of mom who keeps her copy of it under lock and key and tries to shelter their kids from discovering it.
My reasoning has nothing at all to do with the book’s craft, but everything to do with the creepiness of this book. I was afraid this book would give me nightmares last night and I’m 27 years old. The book literally talks about an “other mother” and an “other father” and the mother is really evil and literally plucks kids’ eyeballs out and replaces them with buttons. Is it me or is this not horrifying? How many kids saw this movie or read the book and were suddenly petrified of their dolls afterwards? I mean I’m always kind of petrified of dolls – they are creepy to begin with, but after seeing Coraline I think I’d kill anyone who handed me a doll…
2. What kind of a relationship does Neil Gaiman have with his own parents?
I’m not trying to sound like Sigmund Freud or anything, but Neil Gaiman must have some serious mommy issues to write a book that is this messed up.
But while I think the other mother is much more evil and disturbing, I wouldn’t say the father is off the hook exactly.
What was Gaiman’s inspiration for making his characters like this and is it a positive or a negative portrayal? In the book’s reading guide it seems as though Gaiman wants his readers to connect with the idea of their parents not having time to play with them as kids. I think that is a common theme in children’s books, but Gaiman is going much deeper than that with his portrayal of Coraline’s parents here.
The other mother is completely evil and creepy. Did Gaiman have a rough childhood with his mother? Would his mother or has his mother ever caused harm to him perhaps in a way that she believed would be to his benefit (like how the other mother wants to love Coraline and give her a happy life, but at the expense of her eyeballs?).
Were Gaiman’s parents divorced? Did his mother steal him away from his father as a child (kind of like the idea of kidnapping presented throughout the text?) Did it break his spirit (kind of like the idea of how the other mother stole the children’s souls)? Was Gaiman’s mother evil and manipulative and abusive not only towards Gaiman, but towards his father as well? Was his father simply “whipped” and living in a “whatever your mother says goes” kind of world when Gaiman was a child? Coraline’s other father just seems way too absent and nonchalant and a stark contrast of the other mother in this novel. Even Coraline’s real parents seem to have some issues and tension between them where the mother seems to play a dominating role and her real father is just kind of there.
Or – did Gaiman have a great family life with very loving, perfect parents and perhaps he used that as the inspiration to show children that even though their parents might be busy they still love them and their real parents are better than any kind of substitute they could ever dream of, no matter how mice or similar other people may seem?
Either way, it definitely seems as though Gaiman’s own experiences with his parents could have influenced this book.
3. What is with all of the mice?
Just when you think Coraline couldn’t get any weirder – there is a freaking mouse circus. You can’t make this kind of stuff up. What kind of drugs was Gaiman on when he wrote this book? No, seriously.
It’s really weird, but at the same time this could potentially be brilliant.
Circuses have been in the news a lot over the past decade or so – the time of Coraline’s peak. One of the main reasons why people are so angry about circuses is due to the treatment of animals used. We all care about animals like elephants and tigers and seals and horses and lions which are often used in these circus shows – but what about mice and rats? Do they even count as being animals?
We slaughter these animals in mass quantities because we don’t think they matter. We seem them as being dirty, disgusting, diseased, evil, and not worthy of life. We perform clinical trials on them. We do all kinds of tests on them. If the rat or mouse dies in the process we don’t even grieve for them, we just simply take out the trash and go on with our lives.
This is where Gaiman is doing something really unique. Gaiman does what he does best and brings in the really freaking weird character of Mr. Bobo – most frequently referred to as “the man upstairs”. The man upstairs is training his mice and he seems them as being talented and kind of brilliant for their ability to perform music and hundreds or thousands of tricks. I don’t think anyone would argue that Mr. Bobo takes great care of his mice; he even talks about buying them new cheese to help them out a bit. How many other people would do this for mice or rats? I don’t know of anyone who would go through all of that for a rat. I know me personally if I see a mouse or a rat first off I’m grabbing my cat, Picasso, and making him kill the little menace, and that’s only if I feel like being nice that day.
I’m wondering if Gaiman chose to perhaps include the mice/rats in his book in this way to make a political statement on how we view animals and animals rights.
Or – is this something larger. Is it a political statement on how prejudice we are? How we view good and evil?
The latter statement seems like it may be a bit more accurate.
Because think of this. Most of us will look at a rat or a mouse as being evil, whether it does or does not actually bother us. Sure, a rat in the subway is probably filled with disease and if it bites us we’re probably going to get infected and die and that’s evil. But then there are still domesticated rats and mice that people actually keep as nice little house pets. Are those still evil?
And why is our first human instinct always to kill the rats and mice we found walking the streets? Why don’t we ever think to stop and pick up the animal or call animal control and to get them help and see if we can cure them of their diseases? We would do that for a dog or a chicken or any other animal. Why are rats and mice different?
And to further drag this point along. Let’s compare the mice to the other parents.
The mice – whom on normal non-Gaiman terms would be considered evil, filthy things, seem to represent something good, perhaps one of the only things that are good in this novel.
The other parents start off in the book as being good. We normally think of our mother and father as being loving, kind, and supportive of us. They are meant to protect us from all harm. Originally the other parents were supposed to be better versions of Coraline’s own real parents, but we soon found out that they actually weren’t as kind and loving and supportive as they seemed to be. They wouldn’t have protected Coraline or kept her safe. In fact, these two individuals we automatically assume are going to be a positive force in Coraline’s life are actually EVIL and a source of harm to Coraline and all whom they come into contact with.
That’s kind of an interesting little juxtaposition there, isn’t it?
4. Is Neil Gaiman wiccan or a witch or something?
Of all of the parts of the book, these were the elements that bothered me the most as a Christian. Gaiman seems to want to chalk it up as being just magic based on the reading guide and his answers to the questions in the Q&A for the 10th anniversary edition of Coraline but this is more than just Hansel and Gretel era-magic. I mean – tea leaves? Really? Miss Spink and Miss Forcible seem like true witches.
But are they evil? I think it’s debatable honestly. I don’t usually see them as being evil or bad the way you’d normally view a witch. This kind of goes back to the idea with the mice – something often seen as being evil is actually good.
But what is going on with those dogs? The images didn’t seem as strong in the book as they were in the movie, but they were equally as disturbing. They literally have a collection of dead dogs in their home. When their dogs get sick they don’t seem to really jump on helping them. I mean I know they take the dog to the vet and everything but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that they kind of WANTED the dogs to die so they could stuff them and grow their collection.
And doesn’t this kind of fit in with the theme of the dolls? Stuffed animals are like dolls right? It’s better to kill real, living things, to substitute them for stuffed items that can be whatever you want them to be or something along those lines? Creeeeeeeeeeeeepy, but it is what it is, right?
Also, who can forget that weird little song Coraline sings about be a “twitchy, witchy girl?”
Is Coraline the witch? Hmm…it’s possible.
5. Does Gaiman believe in God? How does Gaiman view God?
The whole magic and witchcraft stuff is only a small part of a larger whole in Coraline. He seems to be really commenting on bigger issues connecting back to religion and his views on God. I don’t think it’s any wonder that my Baptist friends aren’t all a big fan of this novel because these parts made me a little uncomfortable and these are some reasons why I may hesitate in recommending this book or movie to my future children one day.
First off, let’s talk about the other mother again. Who is she really? She is very evil almost like Satan, but I guess not that evil. Is she playing God? The novel does talk quite a bit about how the other mother created a world for the children and she’d create a world for Coraline if she’ll only agree to live with her. It explains how she could create something new every day so that Coraline would never be bored, but there is no outside because she hasn’t created that yet.
Christians believe that God created all things. We can have paradise in heaven if we only follow Christ and accept him in our heart. Coraline can have all things if she only allows her mother to sew buttons in her eyes and stay there forever. It’s different, but similiar, no?
Also let’s talk about those souls that the other mother is collecting from the children. This seems really really satanic to me. You always here of those sayings of “I sold my soul to the devil”, isn’t that exactly what these kids here have done? Are they in hell? It sure as heck doesn’t seem like they’re in heaven, that’s for sure.
I also want to mention that this doesn’t seem to be the first instance where Gaiman has commented about religion and God, for better or for worst. He has another novel for adults called American Gods. Now, I haven’t read it at all and have no idea what it’s about so I can’t really say anything other than this: it makes you wonder.
These are just five main questions I had after reading Coraline. Now that I’ve written them all out and analyzed this book in over 2600 words I can’t say that I am anywhere closer to knowing the answer to my questions. In fact, I’d argue that I have even MORE questions and I don’t even know if I liked the book or detested it.
To describe this book in just one word, only one word is needed to sum it all up:
Today my bible plan told me to read Chapters 11 and 12 of 1 Corinthians. I was definitely excited to see this on my bible plan for today because 1 Corinthians is my favorite book of the bible. This book has taught me so much about what it means to be a Christian woman and the roles of a man and a woman and the relationship they should have with one another and with God.
When I read these chapters today, verses 4-15 of 1 Corinthians surprised and confused me at first. These verses say that women must keep their heads covered at all times, whereas men are to keep their heads uncovered. The first thing that came to mind was honestly Muslim women. They must always keep their heads covered – is this the same thing? Have I been dishonoring God my whole life? Are the Muslim women onto something?
I breathed a sigh of relief when I read verse 15 which states, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” This verse seems to confirm that by a “covering” all that is really meant is hair. But what about women with short hair? Are they dishonoring God? How short is too short?
I decided to Google this issue for more information. Here are 3 sources I looked at:
I feel like most of these sources say “we don’t really know” combined with “it was a cultural thing”. I am leaning towards it being a cultural tradition or custom. If we look back to scripture in verse 2 Paul states, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”
Here, the word “ordinances” stands out the most. I assume an ordinance is a tradition, but what does Google say?
Okay, so not quite tradition but rather law – something much more serious. But whose law is it? Is it God’s law or is it the church’s? Context is everything here. I believe it was church law at the time since Paul is talking to the church of Corinth and helping them to remember their first love – the church. He is helping them to restructure since their church was filled with so much sin and unworthy of honor. In this verse then, Paul is praising them for holding the ordinances – or laws – of the church…the laws that Paul has put into place for them.
Verse 16 also stands out to me where it says, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the church of God.” Two words stand out to me here: church and custom. I think of the word “custom” the same way that I think of the word “ordinance” – as meaning “tradition”. However, I was wrong about the definition of ordinance, so I could just as well be wrong about the definition of the word “custom”, so let’s look at Google.
Oh look at that – I was right on this one! Paul’s use of the word “custom” here shows he was talking about a tradition. Furthermore, he was talking about a tradition that is very specific for that time period. I believe this means that it’s not a defined, universal law for all of mankind meant to survive the test of time, but rather it was a church law for this specific church or this specific region (the people of Corinth) during that specific time. We can’t know exactly how specific this law was for the people or exactly how Paul intended us to interpret it, but I think it’s safe to assume that this law was for a specific time period. The word “church” used in this verse further confirms that it was a church tradition, not a law ordered by God.
So, where does that leave us and women in the church today? Well, I don’t think it’s “wrong” for women to adhere to this old custom and to choose to wear a head covering, but they also aren’t required to. I think it’s their choice. However, I think that the head covering was a symbol during that time that pledges a woman’s loyalty to her husband. Verses 13-15 states, “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair; it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” The covering was something specific for women that men were not meant to wear. I think our society/culture has created its own version of that today. Some of the above sources I looked at say that it’s wedding rings, but I don’t think that is quite right because men wear wedding rings, too. However, I think they are on the right tract. This is what I think it is:
Yes, I know sometimes men will wear an engagement ring these days, but it is still far less common and by some even considered “taboo”. Male engagement rings are also usually much more masculine than female engagement rings (the traditional diamond ring). In the past when Paul was talking to the church of Corinth the head coverings were meant for married women to wear as a symbol of their loyalty to their husbands. I think the engagement ring has the same purpose in our culture today. A woman who is about to be married wears it to show her loyalty to her husband. Once the woman is married she adds a wedding ring but the woman usually wears the engagement ring with the wedding ring. Either way, it is still a symbol of her loyalty to her husband.
Another verse from chapter 11 that stood out to me was verse 17 that states, “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worst.” Here Paul is condemning the church of Corinth for saying that the church is not uniting in a way that lifts up the congregation, but rather, it tears them down. When I read this I thought of the people of Corinth staring at women and whispering things like “Look at her hair, it’s not nearly long enough!” (assuming that the head covering was a woman’s hair and not an actual head piece). What good would that do? Paul is saying we shouldn’t be quick to judge and gossip and bring down people in the church, but instead we should unite and help each other out, for we are the body of Christ and when one member stumbles it is our job to help them back up.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 further discusses the body of Christ and the role of the church and its members. In verse 26 Paul says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” This reminds me of what Pastor Lex DeLong has preached – we are all united in Christ. We are one body of Christ and when one of our brothers and sisters of Christ falls, we all fall. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoices. We are all made up of one.
I don’t think this is the case in a lot of churches today and that makes me really sad. There are too many churches that are quick to judge, scorn, and gossip when one of the members sins or goes through a rough patch in life. Not only is that unbiblical, but I think that is sin in itself. God doesn’t want us to scorn other church members. I think he would want us to confront the individual and to help them to correct their behavior, but that’s it. The key word here: help. He would want us to help our brother or sister in Christ back up and if we’re gossiping and judging, that is not helping.
When I read these verses I also felt extremely thankful and blessed to belong to such a wonderful church now – Washington Baptist Church in Turnersville, NJ. We are not perfect, as nobody is except God, but I do believe that we are doing an incredible job with striving to become the kind of church Paul talks about in the bible in chapters like Corinth. I know that from my experience being a member of this church we are a group of people that make up the body of Christ that really does care for and love one another. Some churches I’ve been to and you’re just another nameless face. Yes, our church is small, but I truly believe that even if we grew exponentially, this would still be the kind of church where everyone takes the time to get to know everyone and to pray for each other. When someone is hurting in the church, we all feel it and when someone is succeeding, we feel their joy. We’ve cried together as a church, but we’ve also laughed, smiled, rejoiced, and ate way more than we probably should (we’re a church that really loves food :)).
Are you looking for a new church to attend? Washington Baptist Church would love to have you! Come join us for Sunday School on Sundays at 9:30 followed by our sermon at 10:30. For more information:
So… I’ve had a rather interesting week.
Casey tried to connect with me on LinkedIn on Wednesday.
Casey as in THE Casey. The one who I met on my 23rd birthday and fell hopelessly in love with. The one I had a crazy long distance relationship with. The one I loved with every ounce of my being.
The one that thought deleting me from social media and not answering my texts but then sending me a few sentences in an email on “why he did what he did” a few months later was an acceptable way to break up with me.
The one that broke up with me for no apparent reason.
The one that made me want to set myself on fire and watch my skin turn to ash as a way to relieve the pain I was feeling.
The one that broke me.
The one who wanted to get back together a few months later because they realized they made a horrible mistake.
The one I forgave.
The one that scared me.
The one I trusted.
The one my soul hungered for.
The one I was addicted to.
The one I swore was a gift from God to share my forever with.
The one who cheated.
The one who got engaged.
The one who got married.
The one with no apologies.
The one that suffocated me.
The one I would have gladly died for.
The one that made a mistake.
The one that got away.
The one that ruined my life.
The one that’s still married.
The one that just won’t go away.
Yes, that Casey.
My first instinct was to almost laugh at it. I couldn’t believe how pathetic the whole thing was. The ex from hell whom I refuse to talk to trying to add me on LinkedIn because he probably thinks that’s his best chance at staying connected with me. It’s barely a step above MySpace.
I let it sit in my inbox for a couple of days. I wanted him to know how it felt to wait. How it feels to not know. How it feels to try your hardest to reach someone who couldn’t care less about you.
I debated on whether or not I should accept it. I couldn’t bare the idea of going down this path and ending up crushed again. But a part of me wanted to be able to flaunt and dangle my successful career in front of his face to show him just to show him all that I can and did do without him; to show him just how much I really don’t need him.
The last time I talked to him was in October after ignoring a series of Facebook messages from him (we are not Friends on Facebook; he sent messages to my Facebook page). He told me he was miserable and that his wife didn’t appreciate him (there’s a feeling he’s taught me quite a lot about…). He called me the one that got away and said he had no one to blame but himself (no…You don’t say?). After I ignored 5 or more he finally made the mistake of saying, “I wish you would talk to me. I miss you.”
But I didn’t want to hear it.
In the past I may have been different. More trusting. More forgiving. More understanding. Excited to hear from him. Excited at the possibility of getting back together.
In the past I would’ve had hope.
Because I loved you.
I can forgive many things but I can’t forgive you for marrying her. Especially not when you’re still married.
I told Casey off when I received that message in October. It was like every wound on my heart had been reopened and this time instead of having a heart of love, I had a heart of pain ready to attack before it even stood the change of taking on any additional pain.
This is what I said with his response at the bottom:
I thought that settled it. I never imagined this would still be going on now, another 2 months after sending that message and just a few days after he “celebrated” his 2 year wedding anniversary with his wife. Actually, thinking of it that way makes me sick. For someone that claims so much to be a “disciple of Jesus” you sure haven’t mastered the whole “Love thy wife” part…
I accepted Casey’s LinkedIn request a few days after he sent it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s a part of me that wanted to show him just how much I didn’t need him. Maybe I had hope still for him for some reason. Maybe I wanted something to happen. I don’t know.
But when Casey followed me on Twitter the day after, I know how I felt: scared.
Scared that this was all going to start over again. Scared that a marriage was ending and I’d be to blame. Scared that I was going to ruin the life I’ve gotten comfortable living – alone. Scared that this time would somehow be the worst than the last two times.
I thought about everything very deeply. For a few days, I couldn’t sleep. On the one hand, it was the same old, same old and I’d be a fool to go back to it. On the other hand, what if this was the one time things were going to be different and I was giving up on the one I was meant to be with?
I thought about it over and over and over and talked with some friends. And this is what I learned:
He didn’t love me.
He didn’t love me before we started dating, after we started dating, after we met, before we met, when we met, or now.
I loved him more than anything.
But he didn’t love me, nor will he ever.
No matter what you do for someone, regardless of how much you love them, you can’t make them love you. It doesn’t work like that.
And it’s not worth my time or energy any more and things aren’t how they were when I was 22. One of us is married. The other one is in a deeply committed relationship with work and school and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone stand in the way of reaching my goals.
When I was 22 I had the whole world in front of me. I worked as a crummy cashier at the local Walmart begging for an escape. I thought you were that escape. There was nothing in the world more thrilling and exciting than being a 22 year old new college grad with a 32 year old long distance boyfriend. When I graduated I was so excited about the possibilities and what the future held not just for me, but for you, too; for us. I thought we’d take over the world – travel together, open a business, be our own boss. Be entrepreneurs and both business and life partners.
But it’s not what you wanted, obviously.
You were selfish back then.
Now, it’s my turn to be selfish.
I want to earn my MA.
I want to work 2 or more jobs at a time.
I want to dedicate more time to my church.
I want to study hard and harder and earn a Ph.D..
I want to teach.
i want to write and publish a book.
I want to move to Philly.
I want to move to Cincinatti.
I want to big time editor for some fancy NYC magazine.
I want to move to California.
I want to work 80 hours a week because I can.
I don’t want anyone to tell me who to be or what to do.
I don’t want to waste my time on you (I’ve wasted too much time already).
I want to be selfish like you.
I feel no guilt.
I feel no shame.
No sympathy for you.
We’re not meant to be together.
You’re not my lover.
You’re not my friend.
You are most certainly not “the one”.
And you don’t love me.
Because you don’t leave the people you love.
You don’t destroy the people you love.
And it took me awhile,
But I don’t love you like I did yesterday.
And I’m tired.
And I’m sick.
And all the hell you put me through.
And I’m done.
I’m so, so, so, done.
And so, so, so ready to go on being a little selfish and to live this life without you.
And here is what I want from you:
Please. Please. Please.
LEAVE. ME. ALONE.
I have nothing more to say to you that hasn’t already been said.
This has burnt up in flames many times over.
It’s time to leave the the ashes along so the dust can settle
And this can finally, finally, maybe die and be over with.
I hate the writing challenge for day 26. For day 26 it tells me to write the things I’d say to an ex.Where do I even begin? I guess I’ll start from the beginning with “Dear Larry” and take it from there, right? This could take awhile…
It has been approximately 8 and a half months since we broke up. They were right when they said it takes approximately half the length of a relationship to get over a breakup. The pain finally started to ease when we hit that 6 month mark in April. I’m not entirely sure that I’m fully where I need or want to be yet. I think a part of me still loves you, and I sometimes think a part of me always will.
How about you? How are you holding up? I had to unfriend you,and for awhile, block you. I couldn’t stand to see your updates on Facebook. It didn’t matter that you were “leaving me alone”,because I couldn’t leave me alone. I couldn’t stop stalking your page. It killed me when I saw you friended and were interacting with Maria. That girl. Tell me, did you do it out of spite? You knew it would get to me. That’s why you did it, isn’t it? Was this your way of getting back at me? If so, as much as I hate to admit it, it worked.
You’re kind of unbelievable, but at the same time I shouldn’t be surprised. She played a huge role in our downfall, afterall. Do you remember the night of August 8, 2015? I don’t think I will ever in all my life forget it, but I sure wish I could. I was so happy to have you home. We couldn’t decide what we wanted to do, but it didn’t even matter. You were home and I loved you so much. Anything we did made me happy, just to be with you. You were so rarely home. I learned to treasure each and every moment we had.
…I guess you didn’t feel the same way about me.
Sometimes you’d say you missed me, but did you really? Or was it Maria that you were missing?
I knew something was up when you asked me how I felt about you being friends with Maria. When she was back in your life. I give you credit for being honest about her being your ex and telling me that much of the truth. But I don’t think you gave me the FULL truth…I’m not sure I’ll ever know the real truth.
Maybe she sent a friend request. That is fine. I have no problem with that at all. I know you’d beg to differ, but I am not crazy. I have a million Facebook friends, most of whom I never talk to, some of which are exes.
Here’s the thing that is NOT okay: to give your exes more attention than your current girlfriend. To lie to your current girlfriend about our ex girlfriend. To ignore your current girlfriend because you’re too wrapped up in your ex. To feel the need to hide your cell phone because of messages from your ex girlfriend that you don’t wan your current girlfriend to see.
Maybe you didn’t have sex with her. Maybe you didn’t kiss her. Maybe you never touched her. Maybe you haven’t even seen her since you broke up.
…but that doesn’t make you innocent.
If you have to hide you phone from your current girlfriend because of messages from another girl, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to cheating, you’re already there.
Do you have any idea how much it hurt for me to find all of those messages on your phone on August 8th? The ones about how she’s so beautiful, asking her if she’s single, asking to video chat.
It didn’t hurt.
A part of me died the night of August 8, 2015.
I did what any normal girl would do: I freaked out.
Consider yourself lucky, I didn’t hit you. I should have. I really, really should have.
Breaking up then and there seemed like the obvious answer. I gave my all to you. I was as loyal and committed to you as one could have been, and this was the thanks I got? Really? But I loved you so much.
Remember that night? In your car? We cried together for hours. I never saw a man cry like that before. That wasn’t fake; no man can fake-cry that well. You SOBBED. You were hysterical. How could I not have accepted your apology after that? You made a mistake. But you didn’t mean to hurt me. You loved me. It was a one time thing. It would never happen again. It wouldn’t be easy for me to trust you after that, but I was willing to try. I still had hope and faith in you. I believed we could put this hold thing behind us. Just keep it between us and move on.
Except…it wasn’t between you and me.
It was me, you, Maria, and your family.
Your stupid freaking family.
I often wondered if I was dating you or your family.Sometimes it felt like both. I’m all for being close to your family. You were over my house all the time, you know I was close to my family. You also knew that especially towards the end, they weren’t always too found of you. They didn’t hate you like I know that you think they did…they just believed I deserved better. You didn’t treat me the way I should have been treated.
They were right.
While my family may not have quite approved of you all the time, they still knew that my love life was just that – my love life. It was for me to figure out and for me to make decisions about. They never told me to break up with you (although they definitely didn’t discourage it). They allowed me to make my own decisions.
Larry, you’re 27 years old. When are you going to grow up and be your own man?
It’s not just about you living at home. That’s fine – I mean I still live at home, why would I condemn that? But you let your family control you and your life and your relationships so much. It wasn’t fair for me or for you.
It was like I already stated, I wasn’t just dating you, I dated your family, too.
I constantly had to seek their approval and nothing was ever just between us. If we had an argument or a dispute or anything at all that I said to you, got back to them, too and they made sure to let me know it.
It wasn’t even just your parents. It was your parents, all of your sisters, your freaking grandmom, cousins, aunts, uncles, random people who I guess are somehow related to you.
It was never their business. A relationship should be between two people, not two people and their family.
One of the things that bothered me the most was the fact that Amanda knew about Maria before we even had our little dispute. Remember the barbecue? It was that same week…maybe even the day after the fact? The wounds were still really fresh and still really deep, Larry. I was doing my best not to think about it, to not hold it against you…forgive and forget. Then while we were alone, when we were dropping Amanda and Emma off she said to us, “Larry, are you still talking to your ex? That’s a really bad idea.” And she followed up after she went home with a text about how you better get your crap together or you’re going to lose me…you’re never around for me. You treat me like crap. Say what you will about Amanda. Yeah, maybe she’s made some mistakes and done some things you and the rest of your family don’t agree with…but was she not right?
You never learn though, do you? You were the center of my life. My world revolved around you. My world stopped for you. The only thing I remember about last summer is being in this constant state of waiting — waiting for you to come home from work. Waiting for you to get done with your dad. Waiting for you to show up at my house. Waiting for you to text. Waiting for you to call.
Waiting for you to come home from your 8th family vacation that you totally didn’t have to go on.
Waiting for you to tell the truth.
Waiting for you to love me the way I loved you.
We started to fight a lot. The main thing we fought about was how I needed more from you. I was exhausted from giving you all that I had whereas you never even attempted to measure up.I cried a lot and suffered horrible anxiety by the end of our relationship because I knew things weren’t the same and I was terrified of losing you and I could no longer trust you. I did lose you in the end – but choice – because it was no longer worth staying, as painful as leaving you came to be.
I knew you were a truck driver and couldn’t be home much. It wasn’t easy, but I accepted that.
What I couldn’t accept was how you made things unnecessarily hard on us with these stupid volunteer vacations. Instead of seeing me, you took time off to spend a week with your family on vacation.
One vacation is one thing.
8 is quite another, and no, I’m not even exaggerating.
I went to Disney with you and I had the time of my life. I will never, even regret that despite how things ended with us. It was uncomfortable as anything staying with your sisters and your mom. Your mom is not exactly the nicest, friendliest person in the world – especially not to me. Your little sister is alright…for a 5 year old. It’s too bad she’s now going on 15 or 16. I could go into more details here, and I almost did, but I’ll spare you that. You should be thanking me. Your older sister was nice enough…but it was a little uncomfortable living with someone who covered everything in tissues for a week because of germs…but maybe she had a point. That was he most disgusting freaking room I’ve ever seen. You’re lucky I’m as nice as I am…I could have and really should have made you take me somewhere else to stay…somewhere that isn’t totally disgusting. But I suppose that it was a step up from your actual house, as sad as that sounds. That was pretty freaking bad, too.
But why do you feel the need to go on ALL of these family vacations especially when they are often the same? Did you really need to go to Busch gardens like 3 times that summer? Oh yeah, you did. You had to be with your girlfriend during round 2.
Except I’ve never been to Busch Gardens.
You and your family make it sound like I’m a devil because of what I did to you during the 2nd trip to Busch Gardens.
I’m sorry – but what? What I did to you?
Yes. I cursed you out over a series of 20+ text.
Yes they were ugly.
Yes, I accused you of cheating…and that’s putting it mild.
What did you expect? You wen on vacation with another girl who was in the same age range, single,and you never told me about it.
When I asked if she was there, you took a long time to answer me and you said “Well….”
That tells me everything.
The first time you went to Busch Gardens, you told me everything about your day. Everywhere you went, everything you saw, everything you did. You couldn’t wait to talk to me.
The second time was another story. Because your girlfriend was there with you. Your other girlfriend.
I had to pretty much beg you to send me 1 little text a day. That’s unacceptable.
You got drunk. With her.
You never had a single drink when you were with me. And don’t you dare use the excuse of having to drive. What about Disney? Everyone gets drunk in Epcot. You could’ve had all the drinks you wanted – you had none.
You went in a hot tub. With her. Without your shirt on.
You were always very self conscious of that. I think I saw you shirtless maybe a total of 3 times…1 is more like it. Definitely no more than 3 during the course of our 13 month relationship.
THERE. IS. A. POOL. AT. MY. CONDO.
You could’ve gone swimming with me any time you wanted during the summer, but you refused because you were “too shy”. Too shy to take your shirt off in front of me, but when it comes to your other girlfriend, boy you can’t take your clothes off fast enough, can you?
And what about the tracking app?
I can understand people thinking it’s creepy. In most cases, yes, but when you date a truck driver,the same rules don’t apply.
FYI, dating a truck driver gets freaking terrifying. I heard on the news all the time about major accidents with trucks where the drivers were killed and I always panicked thinking it could be you. The tracking app allowed me to sleep at night knowing you reached your destination safe. But yeah, I did use it when you were on vacation – I enjoyed seeing where you were going especially since it wasn’t like I was going to get a text out of you telling me where you were. You went ghost on me.
You liked the tracking app. You made a game out of it. The where’s Larry? game. Don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise.
Suddenly, minutes after I flipped out on you and accused you of cheating, the tracking app became disabled so I couldn’t keep track of you.
Let me guess…you let her take you to Hooters and you disabled the app so I wouldn’t find out because you know I’d get mad. You admitted she asked you to go…but you claim you said no. Lying was never one of your strongest suits though. I bet you said no. Sure…
This all took place less than a month after the whole Maria incident. And I’m just supposed to believe nothing happened, that you were completely innocent.
How stupid do you think I am?
And yet, I allowed you and your stupid friggen family to place all of the blame on me. I was the psychotic girlfriend with the worst anxiety that really needed to see a doctor like your brother did. God forbid I loved you. God forbid I worried about you. God forbid I feared losing you. You freaking cheated, yet it was all my fault. So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I apologized and begged you not to leave me.
But we were never the same after that. We were falling apart and could no longer be fixed.
And I was getting so sick and tired of fighting the same battles – begging you to make me a priority. Crying in your car and not even being sure why I was crying.
We were changing. I supposed I was seeing your true colors. And they were ugly. You were becoming more and more controlling, manipulative, and unsupportive of me and downright selfish.
In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, it’s really hard work to date a truck driver. But I did everything I could to make it work – to try to be understanding, supportive, and submissive like a good proverbs 31 woman.
But a proverbs 31 woman needs a proverbs 31 man. I didn’t have one. You didn’t take care of me. You took care of you.But I suppose I can’t blame you too much…do you even know what it is to be a Proverbs 31 man? Do you even know the significance of Proverbs 31? Probably not. I mean, you were only a pentecostal afterall.
Larry, do you know what a pentecostal christian is? It’s not exactly what I consider a “real” christian to be. When is the last time you went to church other than the Baptist church with me and those churches we saw christian concerts at?
Admit it…you’re only a pentecostal because your dad is.
Now that we aren’t together,I can finally say something I’ve been holding back for the longest time:
Your dad really isn’t a good man.
By dad I hope you know I mean your stepfather, not your birth dad. Your birth dad and I had our issues, but he’s a far better man and I do think he tries with you – you just oftentimes don’t give him a chance.I hope that’s changed.
But for real..I don’t understand why you idolize your stepdad so much. He’s incredibly selfish and just seems…off.I have my theories about him, but to say I have a bad feeling about him is an understatement. You say he’s always been there for you and your family. Uh. Why does he have his own bedroom and everyone else except your little sister has to sleep in the middle of the living room (including your mom)? Why does he have a keurig strictly for himself? Why does he go out and do whatever he wants even if it means going alone and leaving the rest of the family home? Why did he make you do household chores and keep you from seeing me until like 10 at night on one of the only weekends you’d be home for an entire month? I see him as being incredibly selfish…
You should really reconsider that.
But regardless, your faith is not something to take lightly. It really really bothered me towards the end of our relationship when you wouldn’t pray for me, when you dismissed me when I told you how important it was to pray and read your bible and I even offered to give you my audio bible to listen to on the road.
I don’t think you understood just how important this all is. It is the most important thing in your life.
Being baptized doesn’t make you a Christian.
Listening to worship music doesn’t making you a Christian.
Seeing a Christian play doesn’t make you a Christian.
Only truly accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior will save you. I’m not entirely sure if you’re really there, Larry. I don’t know that I can honestly say I believe you to be saved. I believe you don’t really know what it means to be a Christian and to know Christ. I believe you don’t really understand what it means to have a relationship with him, and that makes me sad.
We weren’t on the same page with our faith…and I didn’t think we were going to get there. I was growing and maturing so much in my faith, and you were holding me back. I couldn’t let that happen.
I loved you so much. So. so. so. much.
I was terrified of losing you,but I saw you slipping away before my eyes.
The only thing that scared me more than losing you was our future, which I was also beginning to see more clearly.
I really really really wanted to marry you. Our original plan was we’d get engaged after our 2 year anniversary and married after we’ve been together for 5 years. It all seemed so easy. The first year flew by so fast.
That’s when everything became downright horrifying.
I wanted to marry you…but it wasn’t just about you.
I thought about our future kids all the time. Would they have a father? I know we talked about this before. You said you’d take a local job so you’d be there for our kids and for me. I believed you…but I heard this so many times…by our 13 month mark….I doubted there was any truth to the statement.
You loved that truck more than you loved me. And I wondered who you’d choose when kids came in the picture…would you still love the truck more? I feared the answer would still be yes, and that broke my heart. My future kids deserve to have a dad that they can depend on. I couldn’t depend on you, so why should I have believed they could depend on you? You know I never forced you to take a local job, although naturally I’d never discourage it. I wanted you to be happy and figured if you wanted to go the distance, now that we’re not married with kids, this was the time to do it. But you told me all the time you’d take a local job. You’d get my hopes up so high only to shoot them down and to end up going further that initially planned. It was an emotional roller coaster. It was one thing to force me on that ride, but it would never be fair to our future kids. I couldn’t imagine having to put them through that.
I started to see all of my hopes and dreams and everything I ever worked for go out the window. I could say goodbye to ever working in a big city like NYC or LA (or anywhere in California for that matter). You didn’t even support me and my desire to go to school for my master’s degree because of the debt I’d further put myself in (although it really didn’t matter when it came to you and trucking school, did it? Also, I never asked you to pay for it…so why did it matter at all?). You didn’t even support the things that really would help me that you always supported in the past…like my 2nd cochlear implant surgery…why on earth would you not want that for me? Why the change of heart?
I always supported you and your hopes and dreams and everything you wanted to do…not that it was ever an option. You went and did your thing and made your own decisions and told me after the decision was already made. If you wanted to go further on the road, you did. And I was there supporting you…even if it meant waiting 3 months for you to come home. And I was always faithful, it was never a thought not to be.
You made me choose.
You made me choose between you and my career. I didn’t even know where I was going, what was happening.
I didn’t go to California. I visited and interviewed in New York, but ended up in Pennsauken…your aunt’s town…initially and then later, Philly, which you also wouldn’t support.
Choosing my career…choosing myself was one of the hardest, scariest decisions of my life. I wanted to marry you so bad. I thought you were the one and it scared the living day lights to think that I could have been walking away from the one I was supposed to marry. What if I just gave up on the man God designated for me to spend eternity with? Would this mean I’d end up alone for the rest of my life?
As I already stated, my faith was important to me. I was a real christian unlike you and I was growing more in my faith. I was reading my bible more than ever. I began to read Mark Hall’s book, Thrive and I listened to the album that inspired the book. I prayed all the time.
We were made to thrive.
…So why wasn’t I thriving?
Not only was I not thriving, I wasn’t even living.
I was just a part of your shadow…sacrificing my everything…all for you.
But you wouldn’t even support me and my career…or really anything in my life.
I prayed all the time. First I prayed that things would get better. Then I realized, maybe this isn’t God’s will. Then I prayed for clarity. I prayed for God to show me the way.
Our anniversary came and went. I was so excited. I made you a special dinner. I got you a nice card. I didn’t get a gift since I didn’t think you’d get me one and I knew we were going away on vacation for our anniversary a month later.
You couldn’t even get me flowers. Or a card. I barely got a “Happy Anniversary” out of you.
I guess I wasn’t even worth the $3 you’d pay for a card.
I didn’t even get mad though. I was use to the disappointment by then, and I knew we’d just celebrate in a month when we went away. I was so excited for that. We spent nearly a full year planning it. But then I noticed something….
I was the only one excited.
The closer we got, the less excited we got.
I didn’t get it. Maybe it was because you already went to Lancaster and did all of the things we were going to do with your family.
There you go with your freakin’ family again.
They discouraged you from going, didn’t they? What happened to “I really want to do this and am going to put my foot down?”. You parents never wanted us to go. Your sister ended up pregnant or a similar trip, so obviously we were destined to have the same fate.I’m so glad your family had so much faith in us. I’m so glad they seen me as little more than a whore. How flattering.
I told myself, if this didn’t work out, it must be a sign from God that I’m supposed to just walk away from it all. It’s not meant to be.
Boy, I didn’t want this to be true.
I wanted so bad for you to prove me wrong this time.
But you didn’t.
You did the opposite.
You claimed you were sick. Yeah, right.
I did not break up with you because you got sick. That’s ridiculous. Contrary to popular belief by your family and I guess you, too, I’m not crazy.
I broke up with you because you’re always sick. You’re always tired. You’re always late. You can never help it. It’s always something. Conveniently though, you’re only ever these things precisely when it’s time for you to come home and see me.
When you’re only coming to see me, you’re always several hours late and often times we can’t make it to whatever we initially planned…like say our 2nd Newsboys concert for our anniversary. But when it comes time to see your family, your world stops for them.
It wasn’t fair, Larry. I wanted you to be like that for me. I was jealous. I shouldn’t have had to feel that way…jealous of your family. Because I wanted to become your family. I wanted to become your wife.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:31
It’s right there in the bible, Larry. If you’re a christian like you claim to be, you’d be more than willing to let go of your parents to pursue me and work towards making me your wife and building a foundation and family with me.
But you wouldn’t do that for me. And I was tired of waiting. I was tired of settling.
We were made to thrive.
So that day I fought with you. I hung up the phone. And I never looked back.
The part of our breakup that hurts the most is that you never attempted to call me back. Why is that? Why did you just let me go so easily without a fight?
Just 13 months of our relationship all out the window. I never meant for things to end this way. I never wanted this ugly breakup.
A lot of people don’t understand why I never tried to reach out to you, why I never closed the deal and got my closure.
I guess I did though. I know why things had to end. I know this is God’s will. I did want it to end better though and I did wish we talked through it more, but I can’t bring myself to talk to you. Because it just further drills in the fact that it’s always me doing everything for you…loving you, giving you my all, putting forth an effort, and apologizing even for YOUR mistakes when I stand by idly getting nothing in return.
If I talk to you and initiate the contact…it would be a mistake. I’ll apologize for you even though I did nothing wrong. I’ll beg you to take me back. We’ll get back together. And it will be this same horrendous, unhealthy cycle all over again.
I’m not going to make these mistakes. I’m not talking to you unless you talk to me first, and even that’s a maybe.
I’m focusing on me for once, and ever since I did that, my life’s gotten better.I left my miserable job and am now working a great one. I am becoming a college professor. I’m going back to school and it’s not even going to cost me anything to do it! I got my 2nd cochlear implant surgery. I visit NYC when I can and I love it every bit as much as I knew it would.
I got baptized. My relationship with God means far more to me than my relationship with you.
I am finding myself in this world, and realizing I have more of an identity than being a trucker’s wife.
And closure? This nearly 5,000 word blog post gave me all of the closure I could ever need. These are all of the words I’d say to you if I was ever going to talk to you again…which I have no plans of doing.
I survived you. Every day I get a little stronger and I realize:
I’m better off without you.