Thursday, May 3, 2012

Everything I Learned About Love, I Learned In Moonstruck. And Rehab.

In a pivotal moment in one of my all-time favorite movies, Moonstruck, Ronny Cammareri tells the woman he loves:

Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice -- it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!

Love doesn't make things nice. Love does ruin everything. It complicates everything. The fairy tales only tell us about falling in love, not about staying in love. The staying part is the work. If you're brave, if you take risks, if you're willing to make a complete ass of yourself — make yourself plain and naked with all your faults and weaknesses laid bare for this other person to see — then maybe just maybe you'll last a bit.

But who wants to do any of that?

Why on earth would you make yourself vulnerable to someone with sharp talons and a flesh-tearing beak? We're all capable of tearing each other to bits. Don't give me that, "He would never or she would never" baloney because all really is fair in love and war. One thing for sure is that when your ego is threatened, you're gonna dance. You're gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a mother-effin' bee.

You won't care if it's a girl. You'll punch her in the face.

You won't care if it's Prince Charming. You'll go for his nut sack.

Well, figuratively, at least.

My therapist once told me that conflict brings people closer together. I thought he was completely high off his Freudian pipe. Okay, he didn't have a pipe, but he looked as though he should. I've spent my life running from conflict. I dodge and weave. I duck and cover. I slip out the back, yo.

I remember when my mom went to rehab when I was 12, the counselors assembled us all in a room and asked each one of the kids to role play with one of the alcoholic parents. (This would forever ruin any sort of role play for me.) We each took a turn acting out what we would say to our alcoholic parent if we could say anything.

"What would you say, Mandy? What would you say if you could say anything?"

Standing in the center of a roomful of adult addicts and their children sitting on plastic chairs, I crossed my arms over my chest and shook my head.

"Tell us what you would do, Mandy."

"I would go climb a tree," I said when it was clear they wouldn't bug off. So they had me walk off in the corner and sit in my metaphorical tree. It felt like punishment.

I guess my therapist's point was that if you spend your life sitting in an imaginary tree avoiding conflict, you're never going to get close to anyone. Life is messy here on the ground. You trip. People screw with you. You're clumsy with your words and your actions. You hurt the people you love.

You make a complete donkey of yourself.

You say things you didn't mean.

You interpret their actions through the filter of the past. You don't see anyone for who they really are, but more for what they can do for you or how they make you feel. But that's not love.

Love is messy.

It tears you up.

You've got to get in there and confront it. You've got to cry and let your nose get all snotty. You've got to tell each other when you're hurt and you've got to keep telling each other until you both get it. You keep talking until somebody figures out that you both just want to be loved.

So say something nice. Say you love me still and I'll do the same for you. Wipe my nose and I'll wipe yours even though it's gross. Hug me, even though I'm this ruinous twelve-year-old girl inside who can only fold her arms and walk away. Hang in there because it's 25 years later and I'm finally learning to turn back around, re-enter the circle and speak my mind.

This is another old post from the unpublished vault. I wrote it when I was still dating my now husband. I'm still learning how to speak my mind. We're both still learning that we both just want to be loved. Yep, we're pretty lucky to have found each other.


  1. You wrote this and then never POSTED it?! This may be my all time favorite post from you. For starters -- Moonstruck is chock full of wisdom. I watch it once or twice a year and adore it every time. And, of love, lately my husband has been asking other couples: "Do you fight?" I don't know why he does this. It's just a precursor to him foisting his opinion on them in regards to fighting. But his opinion is: If you're not fighting, you don't care. If you don't care, you're doomed. I agree. And yeah, we fight, and it's for the betterment of our marriage.

  2. I thought it was kind of sloppy. Kind of like relationships, if you're doing them right.

    You're husband is a pretty smart cookie.

  3. Gah- this was good! Better than good.

  4. Mandy, you have an incredible way. Your words your rawness, your insight. heart is huge. And the path I am walking mirrors this 12 year old.

    I let her out and i now accept her. I like her. She isnt normal but she is fucking REAL. and you are real.

    I wish i could know you in real life.

    thank you. You are a very courageous woman.

  5. You are like a squirrel with your blogs. No fair. I ate all mine in the fall.

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  7. I love this, Mandy.

    I love it because it makes me feel safe about my life.

    We, too, had a mom locked up for two months...they did it that long back then, and had dumb family therapy with stupid puppets where we were supposed to say what we wanted to say in FRONT OF HER. Supposedly,a SAFE environment, because, you know the therapist being there and all.


    She took what we said and lorded it over our heads for the rest of our days.

    Good times.

    And damn happy to know you.

  8. ALSO:

    Moonstruck: one of my fave movies, after Thelma and Louise.

    My fave line in Moonstruck: "Just cuz you're the moth and I'm the flame doesn't mean you have to go to it. Now snap out of it!"

    ::Slaps him.::

  9. I can't wait to see what's next from the vault! This is awesome. And love is work. And who makes a kid role play their parents in front of their parents?

  10. I'm that girl who never says anything. I want to say so much but I'm scared. I don't want to hear something mean or negative. I can't get hurt anymore, I don't want to hear something I won't like. We've been through too much and now we don't say anything. Not even anything sweet or good.
    I wish I was more brave because I know it would be worth it.

  11. I think learning how to speak up for yourself is incredibly hard because you have to realize you're expressing your needs AND the person on the other end of the conversation needs to realize this is your opinion.

    Bravo that you're learning to do it.

  12. I love this.

    Conflict is hard, but sitting down underneath it and climbing your way back out again, together, is truly courageous.

  13. Chuh! Love this. Can't wait for this great mystery of extremely painful love. BTW, I gave up non-sloppy blogs AGES ago. (Wait... did I ever have non-snoppy blogs...?) Also, this doesn't come across as sloppy. Most of us do not have Master's degrees in English. *stare*

  14. Ah, Mandy love...sometimes I really think there is some karma dude out there that is timing all of this mess like a bizarre symphony, each seemingly random note falling into place exactly when it's supposed to.

    I wasn't sure if I was going home tonight. xo

  15. I'm digging this whole archived post thing. This one is amazing.

    I just saw the movie "Friends with Kids" and there was a line in it about how you don't want to fall in love with/marry the person who is great in the good times - you want to be with the person who sticks with you in the bad times. When you're covered in snot.

    As someone who grew up in an "expressive" family, I'm continually telling people that fighting is just communicating. :)

  16. One of your best.

    I can't forget the scene from 'Moonstruck' where Olympia Dukakis asks Cher "Do you love him?"

    Cher answers "No."

    Dukakis (playing Cher's Mom) says "Good. When you love 'em, they drive you nuts."

  17. I have a vague recollection of a post you wrote a while back where you talked about the discomfort you had with being ... was it in the bathroom with your husband? And I mentioned that after almost 25 years of marriage, there wasn't much my husband and I haven't shared, somehow or another? I guess my point is that this excellent post points out to me your guardedness; your tendency to want to climb an emotional tree rather than risk the vulnerability of true intimacy. Not that we have to walk around buck naked all the time, or always share the bathroom with our beloved, me...when there is true love, it involves feeling safe enough to risk being truly who we are, warts and all, with our partner.

  18. I think I may just have to watch this Moonstruck of which you speak.

    I love that you're digging through the archives and finally posting all of these amazing gems.

  19. I needed to read this today...


  20. I can't believe you threw this one in the vault. I'm gad you opened your vault though. If I had to choose over read this over and eat dark chocolate sauce poured over a mexican chicken taco not sure what I'd do.

    See the inner conflict you stirred in me?

  21. Okay...I love Moonstruck...

    I am also fond of sitting in trees where it's safe.

    This was good...really good.

    You got more of these in your box?

    (*snarf* "box")

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  23. First and foremost, no one ever quotes Moonstruck,only me. And when I do, no one ever knows what the heck I'm talking about. My favorite, favorite romance movie. So, because of your Moonstruck quotes you are now my favorite blogger of the day. Welcome aboard...

  24. "You've got to cry and let your nose get all snotty."

    And I bet you're even beautiful with a snotty nose...inside and out. :)

  25. This is the greatest thing I've read so far about love. A real eyeopener.
    I'm so glad I stumbled across this.


  26. Mandyfish, this is my favorite quote! I was googling it to share with a friend and your blog came up with it. GREAT post! Keep at it, what a talent, genuine and real guts! Love it!