Monday, November 29, 2010

Diary of an Angry Greek Woman

My first encounter with Medea was in the early days of dating The Man. He invited me to a movie, Medea Goes to Jail. He mentioned that this was a continuation of the Medea movie, Diary of an Angry Black Woman. I was *so* excited….I just love documentaries… the grit, the true life stories and this one sounded right up my alley. I pictured Africa…Johannesburg…women marching for equal treatment... When the first preview came on, my excitement came to a screeeeeching halt. *Oh* Tyler Perry is not an artsy indy filmmaker. Um…yeah… The Man kept glancing at me nervously at every punch line wondering, “why isn’t she laughing??” I kept subtly glancing at him, “did he just laugh at that?” Time moved in slow motion - the complete opposite of warp speed - I tried to smile and look cute…feign interest…wishing this movie theater served something a little more potent than milk duds…..

That was my first encounter with Medea. Imagine my surprise this semester when our assignment was to read Medea by Euripides. Tyler Perry just went up a notch in my mind. Medea? There is another Medea? I was instantly intrigued.

It’s an age-old story, really. Girl leaves her homeland…her family…her friends…to marry her hero - the celebrated Jason (as in Jason and the Argonauts). She helps him create his fortune by assisting him in his quest for the golden fleece. She is smart, beautiful, loyal…..he becomes her life….she has his children and is a devoted wife. They are the ultimate Power Couple--the Ken and Barbie of Ancient Greece. With her brains and his ambition, they can go places. That is…..until he traded her in for a new model….young, cute…..and a princess to boot. I can picture their conversation in my mind…..Medea: “But I got you where you are today - it was with my help that you succeeded.” Jason: “I would have succeeded with or without you…you really didn’t do that much to help…it was by MY hard work that I got where I am today.” I see Medea standing there….hearing those words that tore her heart….pleading with her husband to stay…not to abandon their long marriage. My heart starts to pound…my blood is reaching its boiling point…. Jason: “and just think… will be much better for the kids…..they will have little brothers and sisters who will be heirs to the throne….think of them for once…think of the opportunities it will give our children.” annnnnnd the Waterford crashes into the living room wall. I wonder - is he related to my X?? Early ancestor, maybe?? Jason: “I am sending you away - but you’ll have a nice house.” CRASH! Jason: “Why can’t you just accept this? You are so difficult!” CRASH- CRASH-CRASH-CRASH!!! Sister, I am there!! I am there in spades!!

Medea is devastated, hurt, angry, and alone. She has lost her husband, her friends, her house, and her lifestyle. She is one angry woman. She plots…plans….and manipulates her circumstances in order to bring him pain. She becomes a woman obsessed with showing the world how much he hurt her---to show the world what a bad father he is--to show the world that she is right and he is wrong. He was unfaithful not her….why is she being punished? She wanted to work on the relationship--he didn’t….the world needs to know that Jason…the revered Jason is a fraud. Medea looks for the way to cause him the most pain - - and she finds it….through his children.

In Euripides’ story, Medea plots to kill her children. I would be hard-pressed to find any woman willing to stoop to that level to cause their X’s that much pain. However, quite often I see women (and men) attempting to kill the relationship between their children and the other parent. It’s so subtle….a comment here and there about how unreliable they are, about their financial support, about their new girlfriend. I see them scheduling play dates, family outings, or girl scout meetings on the other parent’s weekend. She ignores simple, reasonable requests. She brings them late or picks them up early…..and visitation becomes a hassle in the children’s mind. Mom is happy because she feels vindicated because the kids chose to stay with her during Dad’s time.

I understand…..I am there sometimes….pick me not him….pick me not him!! Sometimes I just want to push the X off his pedestal like a kid playing King of the Mountain. Just one push…one quick hard push…. Why should he get to be the good guy?? It’s not fair!! I work hard to be a mom. I make the difficult decisions. I sacrificed for my family…stayed home to be a mom instead of finishing my degree and starting a career. But here’s the thing - kids need their dads and their moms. My new mantra is, “they are an X for a reason.” What he does now isn’t part of my current equation - he is my X-husband…..but he is not my kids’ X-father. He may not keep his house the way I would keep my house (holy cow, it would involve a bulldozer), he may not keep the children accountable like I would (just call him Mr. Cha-ching) and he may not date women I think are appropriate (I would prefer they be actual grown-ups) :)  but he is still their dad and I need to give their relationship the utmost respect.

Your kids may never see how he wronged you….how much he hurt you….how you are the superior parent. To be honest, although that is a gratifying thought, it’s not a healthy thought. Part of me wants my kids to see it, but part of me knows that if and when they do, they are going to experience my pain, feel my abandonment, and mourn the daddy they once knew who has now fallen off his pedestal. It’s not worth it. My vindication is not worth my child’s heart.

Just walk away knowing that he is an X for a reason…..and whistle a happy tune.