Like millions of others last night, I watched the Academy Awards. And though I love watching people being rewarded for great work, I'm a whole lot more cynical since D-Day than I ever was. I no longer believe that an Oscar is really going to change these people's lives. It's not going to make them happier, or their marriage better. It's not going to stop a husband from cheating. And, as a I scanned the faces (and admired the dresses!) of the women at the Oscars, I found myself wondering what secrets those faces hid.
I suspect most people in my life would be stunned to know what I went through a little more than five years ago. Thinking back, they might recall that I'd seemed a bit...distant. Or that I'd lost weight, though I wasn't working out any more than usual. But most wouldn't have noticed a thing because I was a helluva an actress. I kept just about everyone in the dark. My life looked like the usual assortment of parenting and work.
Yet, watching those actresses last night, I was reminded how exhausting it is to pretend you're something you're not. And how lonely.
Even now I find myself feeling somehow...apart...from others. I remind myself that they've had their share of pain, too, even if I don't know what it is. But I don't know that I believe that. I assume that most are exactly what they seem – busy moms, content wives.
I have a few friends who know what I went through. And it's enormously comforting to be able to speak freely. To not worry that I might let a detail slip that would raise questions. To not pretend.
I recently spoke to a friend about the movie The Descendants, which features a husband coming to terms with his wife's infidelity. She asked if I'd seen it. "No," I said, explaining that my husband avoids anything related to cheating and I wasn't sure if I wanted to see it myself.
"Oh...right," she said. Nothing more was said about it. Nothing needed to be. She understood. And that's incredibly comforting. The mask can come off.
But most days, it's firmly in place.