If you’re a divorced or divorcing woman, you can probably relate to Eva’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) struggle to open her heart to Albert (James Gandolfini) in Enough Said. Readiness for a relationship after a divorce is not easy for many reasons. But, what undermines a post-divorce relationship faster than anything else is fear. Especially fear that comes with an underlying certainty you will be hurt again.
Fear takes many forms. Think about Eva, whose fear is particularly self-defeating. Remember when she’s giving the poet Marianne a massage as Marianne chatters away with one criticism after another of her ex-husband? The man Eva soon realizes just happens to be the one she’s dating? We see Eva’s mind gradually being poisoned. But, it’s not Marianne’s negativity that does it. Eva can’t get enough. Something in Eva is looking for reasons to get rid of Albert before he gets rid of her.
Fear is understandable. The problem is, none of us are always aware of fear’s clever disguises. In fact, if you’re so inclined to drum up faults, you may actually believe you’re right. It’s much harder to recognize this tendency as a method of supposed protection. Especially when feelings of loss are at their height. And, in Enough Said, Eva and Albert are both going through a difficult time. Not only do they still ache from their divorces. They’re also on the verge of empty nests.
Life change of this kind (a potentially lonely but freeing period of adjustment) just might be the perfect time for something new, like love. But, let’s say this is you. Like Eva, is a voice in your head warning: “Not a good idea. You’ll get your hopes up. He’ll only leave you. After all, your child is going, and your ex-husband left you, too”?
That’s not the whole story, is it? You know your children are supposed to leave, even though it’s sad. Now it’s time for you. Watch out for those voices that put all relationships in the same category. The ones that tell you everyone will leave. The ones that make you find lots of things wrong with any new man. Those critical voices can ruin a good thing. Good relationships aren’t perfect. Think about it, are those voices really protecting you?
Yes, your marriage failed. You can’t help being afraid it might happen again. So, how do you avoid the pitfalls a new relationship might bring? As Eva and Albert joke – call their ex-wife? Wear a sign around your necks listing your “problems” so there are no surprises? Will you run into similar struggles with any new relationship? Maybe. But, you can talk to each other openly about your fears and your hopes. You can also be sure you’re looking for the good things you share, not only for his shortcomings.
When those critical voices get particularly loud and you feel like running away? Remember that you’ve learned some things about yourself and what you’re looking for since your divorce. If you’re attracted to him, give him (and your own positive feelings) a chance. Most importantly, let yourself believe it’s entirely possible this new man isn’t exactly the same as your ex.