Last week, I took a stash of movies from my boyfriend’s massive collection.
Most were chick flicks (he was more than happy to glad to get rid of those). The first I watched was “The Holiday.”
It’s a light and predictable movie typical of its genre, perhaps on the smarter end of the spectrum (or at least not the we-will-make-a-movie-with-the-assumption-that-most-women-are-idiots approach). I’d seen it before, but it seemed like one I could watch with my kids, and so the three of us snuggled in my bed and watched.
There were a number of concurrent storylines: One involved Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, being chronically, hopelessly and, for those of us watching and caring about her, maddeningly in love with Jasper, her colleague working for the same London newspaper.
While being somewhat pathetic and definitely repetitive, her thing was really nothing out of the ordinary. Just your typical situation in which one person is utterly and totally stuck and unable to see his/her way out while the rest of civilization sees clearly how silly, how damaging and how not-based-in-reality the situation and the feelings around it are.
And so, upon his announcement that he is engaged to be married to another colleague, Iris decides she just needs to get away from the guy, the job and the country of England, for that matter, over the Christmas holiday season.
Yet even as she begins some amazing adventures in L.A. (after swapping homes with Cameron Diaz’s character), Jasper remains in the picture. Mostly because he emails her, expects her to read and edit his writing (with the implication that everyone else is less important and thus can be dropped) and even shows up unannounced asking for a continuance of their relationship despite his engagement.
Just your typical, garden-variety cad. And your typical, garden-variety woman stuck, stuck, stuck.
We outsiders can see the situation for what it is, plain as day. But Iris, well Iris can’t. And not being able to move on from something so draining and so wrong affects every single area of a life.
Why do I go through all of this recounting of a seemingly innocuous plot?
Not to tell you the not-terribly-original plot of a cute movie, that’s for sure.
I tell you because I have been there.
And…chances are you have been there, too.
Maybe you are there now.
And it doesn’t have to look like Iris and Jasper – maybe your situation is with a family member or a job/career or a physical object or an Ex or something entirely different.
What’s ironic (or maybe not) is that the details themselves don’t really matter much at all.
What matters is the hamster wheel you can’t (or couldn’t) seem to see your way out of.
What matters is the havoc these things wreak on our lives and the energy we lose trying to change and fix the people and the situations.
What matters is that not much amazingness can happen in our lives when all of our focus is on this one unproductive, draining, confining person, place or thing.
There is a point in this movie, after Jasper pops up in the L.A. mansion unannounced and as self-entitled as ever, that we finally begin to see the wheels moving in Iris’ head.
As she realizes that yes, he still wants her at his beck and call and also that, yes, he wants to resume some sort of he-calls-all-the-shots relationship with her and also that, yes, he is still engaged and happily planning a wedding, we (and she, too) see something changing.
At long last, Iris begins to see what we already see: The reality and, frankly, the ridiculousness, of the situation:
Iris: So, you are still engaged to be married?
Jasper: Yes, but, I mean…
Iris: Oh, my God. This was a really close call. You know, I never really thought I’d say this, literally never, but I think you were absolutely right about us. Very square peg, very round hole.
Jasper: You cannot mean that.
Iris: The great thing is I actually do. And I’m about three years late in telling you this, but nevertheless I need to say it. Jasper, you have never treated me right. Ever. You broke my heart. And you acted like somehow it was my fault, my misunderstanding, and I was too in love with you to ever be mad at you, so I just punished myself! For years!
But you waltzing in here on my lovely Christmas holiday, and telling me that you don’t want to lose me whilst you’re about to get MARRIED, somehow newly entitles me to say, it’s over.
This – This twisted, toxic THING between us, is finally finished! I’m miraculously done being in love with you. I’ve got a life to start living. And you’re not going to be in it.
Jasper: What exactly has gotten into you?
Iris: I don’t know. But I think what I’ve got is something slightly resembling, gumption.
(By the way, dialogue taken and lightly edited from IMDB.com)
What we are seeing is what I call The Switch.
Usually it is just a moment.
Preceded by many, many agonizing, stressful, anxious, seemingly never-ending moments, thoughts, words, promises, questions, whys and what-ifs.
And then something just “clicks.”
After The Switch, you are over it. You. Are. Done.
Not like kind-of over it, or kind-of done, or back-and-forth.
Your desire to move on and to get off that hamster wheel for good win out.
And then you are in an entirely new space — one in which so much of what you put off, you ignored, you focused on to the point of exclusion of so much else is now available to you, better than before, maybe even easier than before, likely in wonderful ways you may not have even imagined.
Your new space is one that is wide open on so many levels.
Your new space is one in which you are off the hamster wheel.
Your new space is one in which you are free.
And here’s the thing…well the two things:
1. You cannot be free before The Switch. You can try and pretend, but ultimately you come back to the hamster wheel. And the hamster wheel is all about a you living in a way that isn’t really you.
2. After The Switch, nothing will ever be the same. In a good way. You will be alright. More than alright, actually.
You can try to figure out what will cause The Switch or even try to force it – and sometimes you will be successful. You can use therapy, hypnosis, talking to friends, meditation or a million other things.
Of course, you can also go the routes of smoking, drinking, eating, gambling, Internet or any other of the many ways of latching onto something that doesn’t work but feels good in the moment. (Do I need to tell you these ways ultimately never work and usually destruct, even destroy?)
Your Switch may come with no fanfare – quietly, perhaps seemingly instantly, unexpectedly. Or it may come complete with a marching band, a megaphone, a 40-piece orchestra and a conductor thrown in for good measure.
Either way, The Switch is an absolute.
There is no “maybe” about it.
Regardless of how you arrive at The Switch or of what ultimately flicks it from “off” to “on” (or maybe it is from “on” to “off”), it is final and real and anything but wishy-washy.
You will know something has changed, you will feel it to the depths of your soul. As will others.
Sometimes I crave The Switch and wonder where it is.
Perhaps I am not ready. Perhaps a part of me is served by not letting go and getting off the wheel (I hate that explanation, but I know it is true). Perhaps there are still more pre-Switch lessons to be learned.
The more you look honestly at yourself, the better you are at identifying what you do want and the quicker you can establish dialogue with that voice inside you — the one that knows a whole lot – the closer, I believe, your Switch is.
I’d like to know more about your Switch(es). So with that, I will leave you with these words from Aerosmith….all about how much better, stronger and happier we are on the other end of The Switch:
With the blink of an eye, you finally see the light.
Oh…it’s amazing when the moment arrives that you know you’ll be alright.
Yeah it’s amazing…