I hate movies with sex, violence, or any kind of abuse. This movie had all of it, and I knew in advance that the movie was all about abuse. I just felt like I HAD to see it, so I did.
I'm probably about to spoil the whole movie, so if you don't want to know what happens, stop reading here.
Malena was a lost child. She met August, he took her in, taught her how to be a circus star, and married her. All throughout the movie, she talks about how there is nothing else for her. Her whole world is the circus and August, but he is violent, mean, and nasty to her, the workers at the circus, and the animals.
There were two scenes that were meaningful (for lack of a better word).
The first was at the end. In a fit of rage, August was strangling his wife. I've been through that. I remember the look in his eyes while he was pulling my scarf tighter and tighter around my neck. I also remember the look in his eyes when he seemed to realize what he was doing and stopped. It was hard to watch, because it brought it all back.
The other was after August beat the elephant nearly to death. The circus vet, Jacob, goes to August's tent. August is visibly upset. Near tears. When Jacob walked in, he seemed remorseful and apologetic, but as I listened closer, there was no remorse.
"She'll never forgive me for this. If she leaves, I'll lose my star attraction. I'll lose everything! Tell her I'm sorry. Tell her the elephant is okay. Fix this for me."It wasn't remorse - it was fear. I'm only sorry, because I don't want MY life to change. I'll do anything... but actually stop being a mean, violent, controlling man... I just don't want to have to face the consequences of my actions. I'm so sorry I got caught.
People often talk about the cycle of abuse:
(Abuse - Apology/Honeymoon - Build Up - Abuse)
I remember asking Bishops and therapists when I would know if the apology was "real" vs. just part of the abuse cycle. I also remember when the apology finally felt real. The real apology was not about telling anyone else he was sorry. It wasn't about his fear. It wasn't about how I "made" him do that to me.
The "real" apology was, "I'm so sorry I've hurt you. I hope for your sake, you can forgive me and move past this, but I don't expect anything from you. I understand that you may never be able to trust me again. I want you to be happy, and if that means we can't be together because of what I've done, so be it. What can I do to help you heal?"
That apology has meant all the difference to me. As I watch others go through very painful separations and divorces, I wonder how I lucked out. He knows I keep this blog. He knows I sometimes talk about him. He knows that many people may hate him for what he did to me, and he's never asked me not to write. I don't know if that is healthy for him or not, but I am very grateful.
I can't know for sure what another person is feeling, or what their motivation is. I CAN know what I feel when they apologize. For years, after an incident, he'd apologize and I'd feel shutdown rather than loved. I felt hurt rather than healed. That was a sign TO ME that something wasn't right.
Its been a rather intense day for me as I've faced emotions, memories, old beliefs, and current thoughts.
Now its time for some Pawn Stars and razzleberry pie (with ice cream of course)!