More on Pernille

February 10, 2009

I honestly thought I would not hear from  Pernille Rose Grønkjær again, after several months of no contact, but I received a wonderful e-mail from her this morning regarding the film. Quite surprisingly, she had sent me both the trailer and the pilot, which included her interview with me and George as well as interviews with other therapists and professionals like Pia Mellody, author or Facing Love Addiction and The Intimacy Factor. 

This is not the actual documentary. I still don’t know if I will be included in the documentary. What this is, rather, is a teaser for submission to the Danish Film Institute so as to get them interested in funding the film.

As much as I would love to share her work here and post the trailer, I will not.  I do feel as though I was somewhat misrepresented. I do not fault Pernille for this. I think she has an idea for her film in her mind and she is pulling only those lines of mine essential for her vision– she is not, however, creating a clear picture of “me.” 

I have to say that when I watched the trailer (not so much the pilot) I felt a little sad for myself. It portrays me in a much darker, more desperate light than I view myself. It’s surreal to see how others interpret mine and George’s behavior. It makes me seem dangerous and “pathological,” whereas that was not the case at all in my real relationship to George. Yes, I clocked a few more hours of obsessing over him than I’d like to admit, but my way of managing his rejection was to leave him, to run away. Not to chase after him or call him incessantly (actually, he would do that to me). The professionals, however, that pop up in between segments of George and I, describe love addiction as this desperate, “pathological” behavior where love is a fantasy only in the mind of the love addict, not shared. They relate behavior as stalking, chasing and so on as characteristic of the “disease.” Though that is true in many cases, it is absolutely false in my case. George and I loved each other mutually. He wasn’t going any where. And if he did, he was free to. Many times I was quite happy to be rid of him, actually. But, he never ran away or broke up with me. He was, however, unavailable in certain ways (not emotionally, ironically, but physically). The way this stuff manifested itself in me was that I knew he was not a good choice for me, but I stayed anyway. Or rather, I kept going back. And the only reason I went back, was because he made it so easy for me and wanted me back. I guess we were both quite lazy. But as for stalking or Fatal Attraction kinda stuff. I find that to be very ugly and scary and do not want to be viewed in such a light. 

I think part of the disconnect is that the therapists, though they touched deeply and exactly on certain issues, (that love addiction is very much about fantasy, not about love) they hyperbolized other characteristics of this issue (the stalking, the pathology, the danger etc.). There are of course those extreme variety of love addicts that will commit these more anti-social behaviors, but I would have to say that most love addicts are simply burdened by obsessive thinking and worry (this is the case with me). They have low self-esteem and allow men to treat them badly, but they are rather passive in their behavior and do not have that desperation to chase or hunt down. I think the key word here is “passive,” and I would even go as far as to say “submissive”. Most people who can be written into this kind of diagnosis are passive and/or submissive, and simply make bad choices based on insecurity and low self-esteem.  At least that was my case.  George’s love of me was quite controlling. If he said jump, I said “how high?” He stripped me of my identity on the one hand, on the other, he brought out beautiful things in me and helped me through a lot- as I did for him. But I do not know many women who are overly aggressive or actually attack men and go after them.

As per the documentary, I believe Pernille wants to focus on these latter, extreme cases. And well she should. Drama sells. She wants to make a film that people not only respect, but fear. She wants to shock. But what troubles me deeply is that I do not relate to this kind of behavior, nor do I want to be perceived in that way. There are MANY different varieties of behavior. Not all women (and men for that matter) behave the same way. And so too, there are different stages of development as well. I’d like to think that I am a little more advanced than some of these cases where the police are called in. Ew. Ugly. Gosh, I’m even thinking of that scene in “He’s Just Not That Into You” where Gigi misreads Alex’s signals and thinks he wants her. She hops in his lap at the very end of his party when no one is around and practically rapes the poor guy. He responds by pushing her off and saying something like, “whoa babe, you got the wrong idea.” I can thankfully say I have NEVER made that same mistake, or anything remotely like it.

I mean truth be told, the whole George-thing may have merely been some sort of “post-traumatic-stress” reaction to the dissolution of my marriage. My marriage was abusive. it was dramatic. It was filled with rage and pain and suffering. Coming from both parties. George was mellow, peaceful, hard working. We never fought. I was disgruntled, but willing to put up with no sex for the sake of that kind of peace. 

I think as far as a “main message” is concerned, Pernille focuses too much on love addiction as it relates to the relationship between the couple and how one or the other acts out. This is not accurate. Love addiction is really about avoidance of the Self, not, as you might think, obsession with some guy. Like the “avoidant” who avoids dealing with his partner in a relationship, the love addict, avoids dealing with his or herself via the focus of someone else. We so often tend to see these two (the love addict and avoidant) at opposite extremes of the spectrum and yet, they are two different sides of the same coin. In order to understand “love addiction” we must understand that it is merely a mode to avoiding the pain of the Self. Just as alcohol is not the underlying cause of alcohol addiction (it’s only the vehicle or the symptom), the same can be said for the person a love addict is addicted to. The person, the relationship is not the problem. the Self experiencing the relationship is. 

I will have to say that my “work” with Pernille has been extremely eye-opening and enlightening. She is a brave, artistic and inspiring woman, and I am fortunate enough to have gotten to know her. I plan on helping her further with the film (as she has asked)  and I am so glad I am at a place in my life where I can help.

We all suffer at times. We all struggle,  feel pain or insecurity in different areas of our lives. To overcome those difficulties is to climb mountain. I still cannot say I have perfected myself in the area of love and relationships. But I do feel quite proud of how far I have come, how high I have climbed. And how peaceful knowing that I can help others along the way. I believe that Pernille and I share that basic hope. That through the telling of my story, and through the creation of her documentary, together we can help many woman better understand not so much their relationships, but rather, themselves.

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