For years I was obsessed with this movie. I say chick flicks are a bit like Grimm’s fairy tales. As children, we need those very grim fairy tales so we can learn how to deal with difficult situations when we are little. Say you are growing up in a horrible family, those stories tell you that things do change in time and that you can fight for yourself (like Hensel and Gretel did). If a story is layered and deep as many of the original Grimm fairy tales are, they can be life saving.
And at times there is a good movie which hits a spot and I learned to ask myself why. There is always a deeper reason why I keep re-watching a chick-flick. Watching Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in their reunion in The Runaway Bride made me realise – I WAS the runaway bride. I’ve been married only once, briefly, in my 20s, but engaged quite a few times. Once even I proposed. But I wasn’t ready and luckily at times the men weren’t either and then refused me down the road.
Right, the movie. Guys, you probably don’t know the story plot but most girls will. In short, the character of Julia Roberts becomes the laughing stock not only of her little town but of the whole state of New York when a columnist tears her a new one, claiming she is devouring men by getting them to the altar and then destroying them by running away. She in turn writes to the paper, accusing the columnist of wrong facts, enough for her to sue if she wanted to, so he gets fired. In order to get his job back, he then travels to that little town, tracks her down, wanting to prove that she will run away once again. While they were (of course) falling in love, he proves to her in the process all her actual flaws and how little she had a personality of her own. She didn’t even know what kind of eggs she liked. She runs away one more time, even though she was about to marry the columnist himself in the spur of the moment (big surprise haha) and he seemed to be exactly the right guy for her.
Only this time she didn’t run away from him but from the version of herself that she still was. She ran away because he was actually right and she agreed with him. So she took her time, developed her business idea she had, drew some proper boundaries with her alcoholic father and the town, explored who she was and as she became whole, she then finally married the man of her dreams and luckily he was still up for it. And his cat.
In a way, this is STILL me. Despite me having developed boundaries and created a personality in the past few years, even in the middle of this wonderful relationship with my Mr. X I still feel a bit like the Runaway Bride. I still keep reminding myself that I am not finished. Me as a person, I still haven’t established my ground entirely.
What I used to do in previous relationships is the same as Julia Roberts: I would be whatever the man needed me to be. I would focus entirely on taking care of others, never myself. (Unfortunately this instinct is being reinforced by our mothers and surrounding.) At the same time I was horribly terrified of commitment, despite me constantly being in one relationship or other, but always in the kind of relationship I KNEW wouldn’t work out.
The tricky bit in my current one is to find the balance. It would be so easy to just focus on my man and fulfil his every desire, including taking care of his children. Luckily he won’t let me and even if I am tempted to do that at times, he pushes me back into my own life, my own projects, even helping with them where I struggle.
The danger is not over just yet. The good news though is, I haven’t been tempted to watch The Runaway Bride in quite a while now. I hope that’s a good sign. Especially as we are engaged now and soon to be married. Then again, even once we’re married, the work never stops of building myself, of staying myself. That’s something though which doesn not depend on Mr. X to fix. He’s already doing all he can to create a fun and safe life.
It might run contrary to a woman’t instinct, NOT to focus only on the family but on herself, but I know this is exactly what I need to do.
Focus on myself.