I watch a lot of TV. (To be fair, I also read a lot. So don’t judge me too harshly.) I find it to be a very pleasant source of relief from the day-to-day stressors of life. Naturally, I turned to it when my ex left.
It was right around the beginning of the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holiday season. When he left we were in a weird sort of limbo - was he coming back? Were we separating? What the heck was going on? I found myself decidedly avoiding movies about breakups. Instead, I turned to movies that kept the fairytale alive. I needed to see beautiful couples, happy families, and love overcoming shocking grievances or insurmountable odds. While we’re at it, I wanted perfect houses, pick up lines that gave me the warm and fuzzies, and picturesque scenery. What better channel to turn to than Hallmark?
Just my luck, Hallmark had started its countdown to Christmas! This meant there were brand new movies, mixed with older movies and television series, that were all about romance, family, and the holidays. Since I didn’t have a full-time job or money, I spent a lot of time in my apartment. So I was able to devour each and every one of these Hallmark fairy tales.
Of course, after watching an entire holiday season of them, I figured out the fairy tale pattern! Are y’all ready? Guy and girl meet completely unexpectedly. Neither of them is looking for each other or love. They may even dislike each other. They flirt and flirt, and get closer and closer. Then, right as one is about to profess their love for the other, something catastrophic happens - one of them wrongs (or seemingly wrongs) the other. They find out, and they leave (there’s always somewhere else to go in Hallmark movies). Then comes the best part, the one who has wronged the other often takes a minute to realize they need to fix it. Then they do! In the grandest of ways! They make up, and live happily ever after. Swoon.
I’d bundle up on the couch with my kleenex, my cozy fleece blanket, and a cup of tea. I’d tune into every word of “My Christmas Dream,” “Christmas Cookies,” “A December Bride,” “Christmas List” (one of my favorites), and “Unleashing Mr. Darcy” (my absolute fave). I’d see the circumstances the lovers would face and overcome, and feel encouraged. I’d see the power and determination of love, and feel hopeful.
Don’t get me wrong. Hallmark didn’t somehow blind me to the tragedy I was experiencing or the sorrow I felt. I knew my marriage was likely over. I suspected it was for the best. But the lengths these Hallmark men went through to get and keep their women assured me that even if my (then) husband didn’t fight for me as they did, that someday, someone would. In that stage of my journey, I needed that hope. I needed it to keep me from falling into an all too common deep, dark hole of despair and bitterness.
When my relationship ended, I kept feeling the thought creep up - “I’m not a good wife.” I knew, in my heart, this was not true; that there is a difference between a “bad” situation and a “bad” person. Yet, as I struggled to make sense of my separation, it was easiest to believe what I was being told. Believing that, even if for a second, had the potential to spiral. It could have gone from “I’m not a good wife” to “No one will want to marry me” or “Marriage is not for me” or “Love sucks.” I am a romantic at heart, so I knew I would want to get married again, I would make someone a wonderful wife, and love is a beautiful experience. To preserve that and my heart, I needed something that allowed me to completely indulge in the fairy tale. For me, at that time, it was Hallmark.
Have you watched Hallmark? Have you subscribed to the fairy tale?