The Death Bear has been receiving a lot of attention. He is Nate Hill, a New York based performance artist, who will come and cart away the remnants of lost loved ones or lost loves. For no cost, he will answer your call or text, and take away letters, dog tags, mementos, and even underwear. He takes all the “stuff” to a cave in Central Park where the items become reabsorbed and the haunting that they trigger finally has the potential to fade away. Does it work? Maybe or maybe not. But what all of this points a finger towards is the desperate need to have rituals around endings, and symbolic acts of letting go. Letting go is never easy. Particularly in this country, we aren’t taught how to grieve and we certainly aren’t given permission to do so. The Death Bear is taking this matter into his own hands. Thank you, Nate.
Last week we were interviewed by The Denver Post about the movie It’s Complicated and the Ex issues the movie brings up. Nancy Meyer’s new movie It’s Complicated tells the story of a couple of Exes with benefits. Jane (Meryl Streep) finds herself having a steamy affair with a married man, Jake (Alec Baldwin). But Jake is not just any married man, he’s a married man she has been divorced from for ten years. We can help you understand the issues brought out by this film so you don’t have to suffer the same way these characters do in the movie. Here are some things to consider after seeing the movie:
• When you are lonely or haven’t been able to find someone to date, should you ever turn to your Ex? (Before the affair begins Jane’s friends advise her that if she “doesn’t want her vagina to close up she needs to date someone—anyone.”)
• The effects of drugs and alcohol on Ex interactions. (On the night their affair begins, Jane and Jake have each had a cocktail, shared three bottles of wine and had an after dinner drink. If I drank that much you’d have to take me to the hospital!)
• Why your Ex suddenly finds you SO attractive when you’ve finally moved on and why you’re willing to go along with it. (Jane’s affair begins just as Adam (Steve Martin) enters her life. Adam is a man that can really love her and appreciate her for who she is. And yet, she’s willing to sabotage this new relationship for her Ex who left her after nineteen years of marriage. Why?)
• Can men that have cheated ever be faithful? (Jake cheated on Jane ten years ago. Now, he is cheating on his wife with Jane.)
• Is it ever good to have sex with an Ex? (Jane is still trying to prove something to Jake but it’s Jake who should be proving something to Jane).
• Things to consider before getting back with an Ex. (Jake explains how he doesn’t want to “rock the boat” at home but when he stands up Jane for a date, she says, “now you’re rockin my boat and I don’t like it). It’s so easy to get that good feeling back with an Ex but it’s equally easy to get back to a really dark place you worked so hard to get out of.
• Take an inventory of how your interactions with your Ex affect vital people in your life—particularly your kids. (Jane and Jake’s affair negatively impacts their three children, Jake’s wife and stepson, and Jane’s burgeoning relationship with Adam).
• Resolving your Ex issues is a critical component to moving on. (Even after Jane ends the affair with Jake, Adam is reluctant to get involved with her. Adam gives his reason: “because your relationship with Jake isn’t really done and for everyone’s sake that should get resolved.”
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ex* helps you resolve all your Ex issues so that you can finally have the love you really want. In the movie, Jane says, “knowing how to be divorced is next to impossible.” She’s right! That’s why most people need Experts on Exes to help them through.
Modern Love has been my favorite part of The New York Times ever since the very first column. Even long before the one about Shamu or Groomzilla. It was only a matter of time before a column got written on the issue of Exes on Facebook. At the urgings of our publicist it would’ve been written by one of us, but alas, my perfectionist tendencies paralyzed me where this beloved column was concerned. Today, Charles Antin beat me to it with a brilliantly written piece called The Boundaries of Breaking Up. Take a look, and cheers, Charles.
On last night’s episode of Cougartown (A Woman in Love) Jules (Courtney Cox) decides to break things off with Josh. And for good reason. She is clear that this is not the relationship for her. Yet, she can’t help sleeping with him when he shows up at her door distraught over the break-up. You can’t, we repeat, you can’t be the problem and the solution. You can’t comfort your Ex through the break-up with sex, soothing words or anything else for that matter. Kindness can actually mean cutting them off, and letting them move on. Yes, we all feel guilty. Yes, we don’t want them to hate us. Yes, it’s totally hard to do. But in the end it keeps things clear for you, and for them.
Last week we had a great time on The Doctor Pat show. You can listen to the interview here.
Writing a book is great for so many reasons but the greatest part is seeing how it affects the people who read it . We got this letter this morning.
Dear Heather and Michelle:
I bought your book last night and stayed up late reading it. Finally, I realize I’m not alone and I’m not crazy. It’s been almost a year since my divorce and two years since I moved out and I STILL have ex issues. Whenever he’s between girlfriends, we become more than “just friends” (per your list). So then when he starts a new relationship, I peel the scab and bleed all over again because it hurts and I’m jealous. I know it makes no sense that I don’t want him, but I don’t want to see him with anyone else, but I’m sure there have to be other people who feel the same way. I don’t want him because he’s not a good person and not good for me. But it doesn’t mean i don’t have feelings for him.
It’s not hip to stay friends with an ex, when the relationship makes a person feel bad. And in my case, this guy and I have no children together, so there is nothing truly binding us except our own fears and insecurities. I’m ready to end this relationship with him once and for all. Thank you so much for writing a much-needed book that helped me see what’s really going on here.
I will heartily recommend your book to anyone going through similar issues. Right now, I’m the only one of my friends who seems to be dealing with this, but now I know I’m not alone.
*Reprinted with permission from the reader.
“And when I have ruined the whole of Jason’s house,
I shall leave the land and flee from the murder of my
dear children, and I shall have done a dreadful deed.
For it is not bearable to be mocked by enemies.
So it must happen. What profit have I in life?
I have no land, no home, no refuge from my pain.”
Annette Benning is currently giving a stellar performance in Euripides’ Medea at UCLA’s Freud Theater. This play, first produced in 431 B.C. (that’s a really long time ago), speaks with such clarity about the horrible mix of feelings a woman might experience after being betrayed by her husband. And oddly, everything she explains is completely relevant today. Even her husband Jason speaks in terms we can all relate to when he says (and I paraphrase), “When a woman is satisfied in bed everything is great in her world, but if she’s not happy in bed you can hand her the moon and she’ll throw it in your face.” Even the most heinous Ex scenarios don’t have to end in tragedy-you are the actor in your very own play. You can even turn your tragedy into a comedy, just by deciding to do so.
When a person dies, you write an obituary for them. It can be helpful to concisely remember that person in words. When a relationship dies, we don’t give it them that same dignity. Kathleen Horan has a website and now a new book called Relationship Obits which lets people post obits for their lost loves. You can watch a video about it here:
EXcetera, Excetera, Excetera...
EXcetera, EXcetera, EXcetera