Amy Bickers – TRANSCRIPT
As a writer, I’ve spent my career thinking about stories and how they work. I’ve fit dramatic pieces into narrative puzzles, and I’ve thought about what feels true versus what simply feels good. But I never realized how much I bought into the idea of beginnings and endings until I started trying to make sense of the pieces of my own story. This is the beginning, but it’s not really the beginning.
On a Monday night in August 2009, my ex-husband confronted me with a shotgun and trapped me in my garage. He had been struggling with prescription pill abuse. He’d lost his job. He’d lost his wife. He’d lost that thing that keeps us tethered to this world: the ability to see tomorrow. He said to me, “You don’t know how hard this is …” And only moments later, he took his own life so then I would know how hard it was too.
In the wake of devastation, those who are affected can fall into a trap of believing the universe has punished us based on our worth as a human being. And if we’re now good enough, if we learn our lesson, we’ll be rewarded. This is what books and movies and so many tragedy narratives tell us comes next.
In the wake of my own devastation, I came up with a list of things the universe could bring me that might make things right: a Best Actress Oscar for a role I like to call a human woman pretending to be okay; a call from Oprah asking me to be part of her book club; and finally – this is the most important one – George Clooney as my boyfriend.
So I fell into this trap for a while – of waiting for what comes next. I made vision boards, I read self-help books, I went to therapy, and I tried to learn my lesson. What I was looking for, of course, was something to make sense of the past, some equal, yet completely opposite reaction that could bring a traumatic story to an end. I had the idea that maybe this phase of tragedy could be over if only some happily ever after came along. This is the structure of the stories we’re raised on, the cinematic sweep of epic films, the narratives that take a person from rock bottom to glorious heights of success and love and all in less than two hours. This is what happens in movies I like to call “misfortune porn.” Don’t Google that by the way.