Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why I Hated Eat, Pray, Love

Tonight, I went to see Eat, Pray, Love with four of my good girlfriends.  Cliche, I know.  It's only *the* chick flick of the summer.

As I'm not the greatest fan of books made into movies (name a movie that was better than the book--yeah, I thought so) AND I loathe traditional chick flicks, I was a bit hesitant about wasting $15 and three hours of my life on this movie.  That, and this was the last night my husband would be home this week.  But, I rarely get out with friends and just have fun, and I was in the mood for some escapism, so I decided to go.

So much for escapism.

About ten minutes into the movie, I realized why I'd been so resistant to it.  It wasn't the overpriced tickets, the time away from work or my husband or the quality of the movie.  No, it was fear.  Of being reminded of myself.  Of opening old wounds.

If you've read the book or seen the movie, you know about the scene on the bathroom floor.  When in the middle of the night, Liz pleads for a sign from God, for a way out?  I was there, paralyzed with fear and the chilling realization that the life I'd built for myself, the one I asked for and dreamed of, suddenly didn't fit any more.  And just like Liz, I found myself on the cold bathroom floor at 2am, totally alone, then calmly crawled back into bed and asked for a divorce the way some people ask you to pass the salt.

That scene was so real and so raw, and it left me so shaken and vulnerable and guilt-ridden, that I nearly ran sobbing from the movie theatre.  Instead, I sobbed silently in my seat, wondering if the pain of someone physically stabbing me could hurt as much.

I remember reading the book before I hit that phase of my life.  I found it engaging and poignent, with much too tidy of an ending.  I recognized myself in the bits about meditation (I'm notorious for my fidgeting and inability to sit still), and well, who wouldn't want to spend four months in Italy gorging on the food, language and culture.

And then I had my breakdown.  My lonely, scary, life-changing bathroom moment, and I tried to read the book again.  At first, I bawled.  And then I got mad.  What I wouldn't have given for even a week's vacation, let alone an entire YEAR to find myself, learning Italian, eating great food, meditating, studying life's secrets with medicine men and gurus and making out with a hot Brazilian man, all while getting PAID to write a best-selling memoir ?

It was all too self-indulgent.  For most of us, life goes on.  We can't escape the pain or shift it to a new locale.  We face it every morning, living in the same neighborhoods and same cities, awkwardly running into mutal friends, recounting the story to everyone we've ever know, fighting back hysterical sobs at the slightest reminder, all while trying to "live" a normal life.  The bills don't stop coming, the clients don't become less demanding, people don't stop asking nosy questions--life goes on and on, and while the pain becomes more distant, anything and everything can bring it bubbling to the surface.

Every time I think I've healed, that I've moved on, that I've grown onward and upward, an experience like this reminds me how freshly wounded and sad I still am.


  1. I haven't seen the movie yet but the book annoyed me to no end. Self indulgent for sure! If only we all had a year to run away and find ourselves. Honestly, I don't think I'd even want to.
    No, I have more respect for the regular women of the world who face their battles head on while juggling a million other things.
    But, I suppose Eat, Pray, Love makes for a better story :)

  2. Wendy, this is why I love you. :) I'm not a fan of escapism.

  3. "... life goes on and on, and while the pain becomes more distant, anything and everything can bring it bubbling to the surface."

    What a beautifully written and heartfelt post, Laura. I find your honesty very refreshing.

    You are not alone. I couldn't get through the book because I was too close to the bathroom floor moment and am still not ready for it (still inching closer to it). I have yet to see the movie.

    Yet, thanks to a lot of work I've been doing with some great people, I find myself more at peace as the stuff bubbles up. I still lose it when the kids are demanding and I can't seem to get it together with new blog launch or biz plan. But there is a quiet reassurance underneath it all that everything will be OK. Because so many people have reached out to help.

    So, I want you to know that I am here to reassure you that it's OK to be sad, and remind you that you are supported. and a pretty freakin' awesome gal!

    xo, Lori

  4. Awesome post. I had a bathroom floor moment too and would have LOVED to escape for a year. The rest of us have to move on with our lives and pretend we are "fine." I couldn't get past the Italy chapters, I was so annoyed with the book. Glad to hear others felt the same way!

  5. I find this so fascinating! The reasons one hates it and another one loves it are often the same, and largely dependent on where you're at in your life, it seems. :o)

    I had my bathroom moment years ago -- I've been through a divorce and am long since out on the other side and enjoying my life, so the subject matter of E,P,L isn't touching a nerve these days.

    I loved the book -- and I hope to enjoy the movie as well. I do agree that a whole year "off" would be a luxury, and isn't something everyone can do. But I'm also reminded that when we see someone else's life that we wish we could live, or someone else in a situation we envy, it can either make us angry or we can choose to let it inspire us to re-invent our own lives in some way. When I was poor I didn't begrudge those who had plenty of money -- it inspired and motivated me because I knew if they can have it, so can I.

    So in regard to Elizabeth Gilbert's year-long romp across the globe, I choose to let it inspire me to think bigger, and more limitlessly, rather than be resigned that it's something I could never do. :o)

    Great post Laura!

    ~ Monica

  6. Laura, did you read my blog about the book recently? I got shot down by a woman I don't know for expressing my thoughts, but it was nice to have Shira Miller and Widdi Turner - two empowered women - come to my defense. Go to: http://tommyhousworth.blogspot.com and see if you find some similarities in our take on the book. Sounds like we've got yet another thing in common!

  7. The Firm. (movie was better than the book)

  8. Laura,

    I read the book right when my marriage was falling apart. The beginning was the most impactful, again the same bathroom scene although mine was a bedroom floor. I remember gleaning important quotes from the rest of the book and I'm a speed reader so I skip the parts that bore me. Which is why I didn't pick up on the incessant crying before...

    I was really excited to see the movie, as you know. I wanted to see the pain and recovery that I had experienced depicted. BUT SHE JUST KEPT CRYING! Seriously, after a certain amount of time, shouldn't you just start to recover? The scene when she's on the floor in her boyfriend's apartment made me want to slap her. By India I was really wondering when the movie was going to end.

    I wish there was a book about divorce that captures what really happens. The pain of losing someone who knows you best, but you know you don't want to be with, the lawyers who lengthen and manipulate the process, the loss of friends, and the constant second guessing just to escape a modicum of the pain. But also the perserverant spirit. The mental process that you can survive this and it will be better in the long run. Divorce is like cancer (having been married to a cancer survivor). You can choose to live your life in whatever form or wait to die.

  9. @Lori--Thanks so much. You are pretty great yourself!
    @Angelica--Nope, not just you!
    @Monica--I love your comment about turning bitterness into inspiration--great lesson for us all!
    @Tommy--great minds and all! You really are my twin!
    @Susan--hilarious. And agreed!
    @Sarah, and once again, I concur! I wanted less escapism, I guess. Might be fine for those who haven't been there, but for those of us who have (and didn't have the luxury of rebounding into the arms of some hot young actor), it's very hard to relate.

  10. I love this post, Laura. Haven't read the book, seen the movie, and I didn't know anything about your past, but now I know a little bit about all three. xo

  11. First and foremost, I absolutely adore you. Your honesty (especially on this subject) touches me in a way for which I'll never be able to thank you appropriately.

    I am ON the bathroom floor.

    I am dealing with the every day. With the inability to escape. With guilt. With deep, unmitigated sadness.

    I know that I won't always be here, but right now? It's cold. It's hard. It's harsh and sterile. And I won't be seeing that movie.

  12. Thank you for this post and for sharing. I am in the middle of a divorce. I've read the book and will soon view the movie. The challenge for me is when I have "one of those days" and try to pull myself out alone without reaching out to a friend to just talk about it. This post was needed as I want to thank you again for sharing.

  13. Thanks for your heartfelt review. I think I've read five different reviews in the larger media, but yours relates it to your personal life more directly than the others. I am no big fan of EPL, the movie, having been forced by my girlfriend to see it. But it is interesting how the movie is a type of mass Rorschach Test. Everyone taps into a different element in the movie. My girlfriend was not particularly interested in the relationships or the food or philosophy, but was there for the Travel Porn. I was grabbed by the food, and immediately insisted we go to a good Italian restaurant--not the easiest thing to do in Atlanta. And whereas Julia had a beautiful meal of Aspharagus, and other healthy vegetables and cheese, my girlfriend and I ended up at a Italian restaurant that opened with ten garlic rolls, and then the supersized pasta dish--Carb-Overload! And I finished by drinking too much cheap Chianti!

  14. "freshly wounded and sad I still am." That is so true and happened to me just yesterday. I have been separated and divorced for 6.5 years, thought it was all behind me, still see my ex, no worries but yesterday out of the blue I received a newsletter email from the solicitor who handled my settlement case. That was 6 years ago and when I saw that email and who it was from as I was still on his client list it shocked me. My heart started racing, my head felt light and I realised I still felt resentment about the settlement and divorce, that it wasn't all behind me. Sigh. And I think I'm just about to go through it all again with my current partner. I guess I'll have to save my cash and go away overseas for a year and eat pizza!

    Your blog is wonderful, thank you.



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