Betty Draper and More Reflection

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A while ago on Instagram there was a fun game being played where you were supposed to list nine fictional characters you identified with.  The person I said I felt the most similar to was Peggy Olson from Mad Men, but I also listed Betty Draper from that series.  Oddly enough, considering how much I enjoyed Mad Men, I only started watching the show in 2010.  That was also the year I started seeing my husband…

Sometimes I would come back from our dates feeling a mixture of happiness, excitement and a gnawing sense that something was amiss…  Despite all our obvious issues, it was something I could never quite put my finger on exactly.   It just was just a mysterious, uncanny foreboding.

I would ask myself at times, “What’s really going on right now?  What is this darkness that won’t go away?”  I knew it had something to do with my growing love for Mark (my husband), but again, it wasn’t clear and instead of driving me away from him it seemed to be pushing me to love him more…  It felt like he held an essential key to some sort of understanding about something deeper in life itself.

As I put this all into writing right now, two thoughts come to me.  First, as much as I appreciate the opportunity those days gave me to learn, I’m relieved that that’s the past and I’m thankful to be living right now.   My other thought is that, while I know the way I describe my feelings back then might sound corny and melodramatic, I really did feel something eerie was afoot…

But anyway, when I watched Mad Men back then I felt a little respite (I think that show was a sort of refuge for many)…   It was cathartic.  And again, the characters were people I could relate to, especially two of them.

Peggy Olson…  I could write a long post just about how much I saw myself in her personality, but right now I want to focus on the other lady I most related to: Betty Draper.

She was so misunderstood.  People often describe her as cold.  I thought that she wasn’t truly cold so much as deeply and constantly fearful.  I think she felt from the start of the series to almost the very end that her life was very out of control and that she was swimming in waters way out of her depth.  And I think she was right.  I doubt anything had prepared her for her life with Don.

She was also a perfectionist.  She wanted to “hide the brushstrokes”as her mother once instructed her to do in all matters.   Her whole life she had been seen as this exceptional beauty and from that place of high expectation, I think she felt a deep responsibility to please people.  Now, (before anyone thinks I’m giving myself a huge compliment) I’m not trying to say that I’m an exceptional beauty, but I do relate to her feeling of needing to meet other people’s expectations for her own life.  I also understand how it feels to have plans and dreams and then find things slowly unraveling to the point that life becomes… overwhelming.  You try to find it in yourself to be present, but standing and staring listlessly while taking languid drags on a cigarette could also happen (not that I’ve ever smoked actually).  I think Betty was trying her hardest to “keep it together” but mostly felt a deeply perplexing sense of shock at the world she saw around her.  I think that that’s why she developed that problem with her hands…

Betty had a wide-eyed trust in Don that had been shattered, piece by heart-wrenching piece but then what?   I think, on top of the context of views on divorce in those days, it would have been very hard for her to let go of her dreams for her family with Don, particularly in her already frazzled state of being.  I bet she would have eventually left Don when she was either pushed off some sort of emotional precipice, felt strong enough to stand on her own or when Don himself decided he wanted to leave her.  But, instead, she met Henry Francis and then eventually fell in love again.  And, the mutual love and concern he also later felt, gave Betty the courage, strength and conviction she had lacked on her own to finally end things and move on.

I’ve often wondered, in my own marriage (although as I wrote yesterday, thankfully, Mark is certainly not out and about “Don Drapering” right now) what would finally either end things or mend them.  I don’t know enough about a lot of things right now to answer that question well, but I will say that I would end things when and if I thought it was the best or right thing to do.  Like Betty, it wouldn’t be easy for me either though.  I too am not a quitter… And, unlike Betty (but almost reminiscent of Peggy) I have a geniunely close friendship with my husband.  I would do it though if that ever seemed best…

On the other hand, if I stay with Mark for a lifetime the emotional terrain will have to look different than it does now…  Maybe that’s possible or maybe it’s not (as I explained yesterday), and…  I’m sure someday I’ll have a much better picture…

*Sigh.*

A lot to consider… Thanks for reading.  I said I was going deep into my thoughts and feelings this week…  Oh dear.

 

 

 

 

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