Monday, January 14, 2013


In Silver Lining, we meet the main character (male romantic lead), eight months after he nearly beat a man to death.  He is getting released (against doctor's recommendations) from a state-ordered mental facility where he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and some paranoid delusions.

In case we might want to tell ourselves that it wasn't that bad, that maybe the "near-death" thing was an accident—he pushed a guy and his head happened to bang on the faucet in just the right way—there is a brief flashback where we see that no, it was a long and bloody and horrific attempted murder that failed.

This movie is scary.  It is scary, and the thing that I am afraid of is the main character.  You know, the male romantic lead.  He terrifies me.

I don't know very much about bipolar disorder.  I don't know what would be a realistic treatment goal.  It may be that self-awareness, medication, and coping tools can be enough to prevent someone from ever becoming violent again.  That may just be fantasy.  I know that, for me, it wouldn't matter.  I would never feel safe around that man.  And I would never be alone with a man I didn't feel safe with.

And so, when the happy ending begins, I feel very uneasy.  I want to believe one of two things: either it's actually a happy ending, because he is cured and they are okay, OR it's wrong, it's not okay, this is not okay, why are we saying it's okay?  And if I am willing to believe the former, how can I feel the way I do?  It isn't right or fair of me to condemn this character, to believe he can't change. 

The truth is, both things can be true at once.  We are all allowed to make our own decisions about the level of risk we are willing to take.  She is not wrong, and neither am I.  I am allowed to make a sweeping, unfair, decision and say "you get no second chance with me."  And that doesn't make someone else wrong to say, "I'm willing to try."

I've been thinking about risk a lot, lately. 

When I found my brother's blog, and it seemed to show a thoughtful, interesting, person, with whom I might agree on many important things, I thought that I ought to contact him.  And I struggled with that.  I should do it, but I didn't want to.  I very emphatically didn't want to.  I felt bad about that.

But, I have already rejected the idea that relationships should exist because of family connections.  It is not enough to say, he is my brother, therefore we should talk.  And if I'm not doing it because he's my brother, then I'm just doing it because hey look here's this guy on the internet I bet we'd be friends.  But this isn't that kind of blog.  If it were a stranger, I'd glance through it once, and never go back. 

What this blog changes, then, is my assessment of risk.  It says that maybe I could have a fruitful relationship with the this person.  And maybe I could.  But I am unwilling to risk it.  I don't speak to my mother because I am afraid of her.  Because her anger is so sudden, so unpredictable, so devastating, and I can do nothing to protect myself.  If I open myself up to communication with my brother, there is the chance that my mother will appear through him.  And that terrifies me.  I will not risk it.  He may deserve a second chance, but I will not give him one.

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