Day 99 - Marilyn Monroe, Rubic's Cube & Paths Taken.
Ok, I will admit it. I am sick. I have been denying it for three days but it has now hit me in a manner that I can no longer deny. I hate being sick. I resent the down time. The feeling crappy. The waste of time. I am a doer and being sick always feels counterproductive...
So yesterday after getting all of my tasks done, in an attempt to thwart what was coming, I took a break and watched a movie on Netflix before I went out for the evening. I watched My Week with Marilyn...I kind of wish I hadn’t. Not because it wasn’t good but because it kind of spun me out.
When I was younger, I was a huge fan of hers. I read all the books about her life. Watched her movies. I was fascinated with her life and her untimely death. She was beautiful to me and so imperfect. I kind of loved that about her.
But then I got sober and I was given a new perspective on her life. I no longer saw her as glamorous or sexy. I saw her as sick and suffering. Her life just one long endless search for love and belonging. That hit a little too close to home so I dropped my Marilyn fascination and focused my sights on idolizing more stable and evolved women as role models like Nina Simone, Cheryl Strayed and Pema Chodron.
But as my life has decidedly put forth, I seem to always be returning to themes. Love, commitment, sexuality seem to be the place where all of my work is centered. Like I have been given some sort of rubic’s cube for love. My plight to keep turning it over and over and over again, making slight alterations and seeing if that results in resolution. I am totally aware that perhaps I am sitting alone in my house with my cube, twisting and turning and missing my life. However, my cube is this computer that I tap out my internal conflict and then, for some reason not completely understood by me, I share it with whomever will read it.
The movie was about this young man’s time with Marilyn while he worked on her film The Prince and the Showgirl. It was about how for a week Marilyn turned her attentions onto him and he fell madly in love with her. She, of course, broke his heart and went back to Arthur Miller. But in the intimate exchange between the two, you gain access into her inner world. The pills and booze, the mental instability, the fear, the lack of self esteem, the misguided attempts to love, the fragility, the complete conundrum that was Marilyn Monroe. The greatest sex symbol that ever lived while she forever remained a child desperately seeking the attention and love from pretty much everyone who crossed her path.
As I watched her demise on screen, I could not escape seeing how my path was like hers. My early life spent alcohol soaked, falling for men that were not good for me. Believing that this next man would somehow save me from this plight of just not being loved right or enough. Watching this film yesterday, it struck me how much Marilyn was her own destruction. Trapped in this image she created, this personification of this beautiful, sexy woman to cover up the scared and frightened little girl who was forced to grow up too fast. Desperately seeking love and affection and going about it all wrong. Always being used for other’s gain, never really knowing where anyone’s allegiances really rested. She must have felt so alone. Trapped in a loop of taking things to change how she felt which then required her to take other things to change that too. Over and over again. Women wanted to be her, men wanted to fuck her. She was so there that she wasn’t really there. Always flitting to the next man in some desperate attempt to gain what she lacked.
In the movie, this young man offers her salvation. Give up show business, he will love her and care for her. Stay with him and he will take care of her and love her like she needs. But the ultimate tool of her own destruction, she can’t do that. She can’t give up being Marilyn Monroe even though she knows on some level it is going to kill her. Hating herself so much that plodding forward seems to be the only path she can take. She is trapped on the treadmill of selling sex to hold her place in the world. Selling sex to get love. Being caught in a place where she will never really have either because her own behavior will require that everyone leave her in the end.
I am certainly not Marilyn...not by a long shot. I am not a sex symbol or an actress. However, I can see her inner conflict. I lived that same conflict and it almost took me out in a similar manner. The fucked up childhood resulting in an early adulthood mired with booze and men. Looking for love by using sex as a means. Finding abuse, loneliness and pain at the bottom of every empty bottle. Being the best, worst instrument in my own self destruction.
But at 25 I woke up. I saw my life in one moment with crystal clarity. I saw everything that I thought was wrong. I was sick. I was tortured and it was really mostly my doing. I walked away from that path. I have never looked back. It was a long, hard journey out but it was worth the effort, pain and hardship. I am forever grateful that my life did not end like hers because it could have. There would not have been the tabloid stories. There would not have been a nation in mourning. But I would have died, naked, alone and wholly carved out, only a shell of my human form remaining.
I could not see anything about her as not tragic. So mistaken. So lost. Little girl lost. Grown woman dead. She only the front woman for literally scores of women who have the same story and path. A wonderful actress hiding the pain of a childhood gone wrong except no one is that good an actress to hide the scars of early abuse and neglect. Her pain and suffering splashed across screens and stages for all eternity.
As the movie concluded and she moved on, back to Arthur Miller, well at least for a little while, I felt so grateful to have been spared her demise. My own much more subdued version of acting to hide the pain, resulting in a different ending for me. My awakening to see how much I was, perhaps not the architect of my own destruction, I was at least the foreman on the job. Working hard to ensure that I never really left the deconstruction site. Standing idly by while bombs are dropped, walls blasted in, pretending that it is all someone else’s doing. Feeling completely powerless to change anything at all.
I don’t know why I didn’t end up dead. I don’t know why I am still here. My self hatred as potent as hers. My pitiful demise just as poignant. I suppose is doesn’t really matter why. Perhaps the more important question is what. What happened for me that didn’t happen for her? I saw a doorway out and I took it. I did not look back. I did not return to the life that I had. I turned around and walked in a different direction. Easy for me to say, there was no paparazzi photographing my every move, no throngs of people following me everywhere I went, no mobs crushing me in the street. I, so unlike Marilyn, was able to turn away from my misspent life, and walk into another. Her trapped by her own celebrity. Me, freed by my lack of importance. Regardless, I can see my end in her end. I see the grace I was given, the life redeemed. Marilyn becoming symbolic for me of all that my life could have been had I not been willing to turn toward something new and unknown. I feel immense love for this broken, battered child woman. I hope somewhere in whatever realm she inhabits now, she found herself and in that she found everything she always wanted.