It is one of my all-time favorite movies. There are many reasons for this. The depth. The imperfect, realistic, broken people. The exploration of flaws, of reality, the risks and grittiness of love and honest, accepting connections. The ability of love to break down walls, break through barriers, to reach into dark places, to make a massive difference in the outcome of a life. The insights it has given me into my own life and challenges. I watched it again this week. It seems every viewing brings a new insight or interesting thought. This time was no different. This time, it hit me hard and very unexpectedly. Skyler: “Tell me you don’t love me and I won’t call you…” Will: “I don’t love you.” I didn’t suspect he didn’t love me. Not until after we were married. It was about two weeks after the wedding and we were driving out to New Mexico, to Santa Fe, relocating to the place where he grew up. We were going to live in his grandmother’s guest house until we could get jobs and decide what we wanted to do with ourselves. Young, excited, optimistic, we weren’t worried about our ability to obtain employment and start our lives because we weren’t looking for much at that point…just a paycheck. We were driving two vehicles, lugging along everything we owned, which wasn’t much, and it had been a long, hard trip. But, finally, we were almost there! I was so pumped about moving to a place I loved with the man I loved. The landscape, so different than where I was raised, was hauntingly beautiful. My life was finally good. Things were falling into place. Yet, as we approached Santa Fe, I had an eerie premonition. A dark feeling descended and I couldn’t shake it. I suddenly knew he was having second thoughts about me. That he was regretting having married me. That he didn’t want me there, in this place of memories he treasured. As we came within sight of the place that had been his childhood home, he realized I wasn’t the mate he dreamed of as a boy growing up. I just knew. I could somehow feel his thoughts and sense his unsettled feelings and regrets. I felt his heart. And it scared me to the center of my core. I had been so careful! I had prayed, seeking God’s will and not my own. I married him because God told me to trust Him in this relationship! That it was of Him!! I would never have taken this step if I hadn’t been totally reassured by God that it was His will and direction for me. How had this happened…again? That night, as we settled into his old bedroom, I asked him if he loved me. He hesitated for a long second before replying…he said he did. Love me. Weakly assuring me. I knew he was lying. I knew he felt stuck with me. But I chose to believe his words and not my intuition. I ignored what I could feel coming from his heart. At least for a time.
But as the months passed, my gut feeling became harder and harder to ignore. I asked him several times, early on during the first few months of our marriage, seeking reassurance. After a few months, he finally admitted the truth. That he didn’t love me.
When Will Hunting told Skyler that he didn’t love her in the movie, I was back there at that moment when he first uttered the words, “I don’t love you” to me. And I was suddenly pierced anew. The pain I had ignored and boxed away washed over me, through me, into me. When he told me, so long ago, I couldn’t react. I had to remain calm. I had to survive. Not this time. I sobbed. Sobbed uncontrollably. I was there in that moment when he told me that he didn’t love me, didn’t want to hear anything that was in my heart, didn’t want to know me, wanted me to keep everything to myself and keep everything on an emotionally level keel. He didn’t want to be bothered or disrupted or disturbed. He didn’t want me. He didn’t love me and didn’t think he ever would.
His words were like a physical blow. He gutted me with them.
I remembered the feeling of everything shutting down inside of me. I felt a valve turn. From wide open to completely shut. I tried to stop the shutdown. I tried with all my being to keep my heart open, at least a little bit. And for years I went through the motions. Doing all the things that I used to do spontaneously…but now I had to think about them and force myself. I painted a smile on my face. I acted as if everything was wonderful. I was still in love with him, but that love I had for him now stabbed me in the back. In the heart. We both felt stuck.
And so went the years.
Over time, I became more and more numb. When you know you are not wanted, when you know you aren’t even really accepted, much less loved, by the person who is supposed to cherish you the most, it does something to your soul. At least, it did something, something awful, to mine.
I did such a good job numbing myself, killing myself, I had forgotten how devastating it was to hear those words and to know the reality of them. To be married and unloved. I had forgotten how deeply painful it was. How all my dreams came crashing down and lay broken all around me. How the pain sliced through me, cutting me apart, leaving me destroyed. I was so focused on getting through it, I sloughed off the horrible hurt and kept walking. Yes, I had forgotten how badly it wounded and tore me. Until I watched Good Will Hunting and heard those words. Felt the pain. The searing pain. As if it was happening now instead of decades ago. It was fresh.
I didn’t cry all those years ago. But the tears were still there, waiting.
For Skylar, the tears were dried…Will drove to California because he really did love her.
But my heart is still broken.
And the man I loved and was married to for 22 years? He is gone now. Long gone. And I am still as I was and always have been…unloved and unwanted. Waiting for a happy ending. A happy ending that may never come.