Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Rachel Getting Married annoyed me

I saw Rachel Getting Married this weekend. I actually ordered it from Netflix a few weeks back, before my precious pup passed away, before my good friend from high school passed away, before I was just generally depressed.

Ironically, the one potentially disastrous thing in my life that's really going well right now is my sister's recovery. She's 7 months clean, got a job, going to school, going to meetings, almost acting like a mature adult most of the time. It's pretty sweet.

So, I popped the DVD in and prepared to be completely at one with the movie that supposedly mirrors my own experience.

For those of you who don't know, Rachel Getting Married is about an addict just barely out of rehab who attends her sister's wedding. This was my life... except my sister had relapsed during my wedding.

I expected to feel some emotional pangs and difficult memories while watching RGM, but, actually, I was kind of annoyed by it.

Sure, the movie really captured the selfishness and the OMG LOOK AT ME, I AM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE thing that addicts have going on, but it really fell flat in a lot of other areas.

Addict Behavior

First of all, addict Kym was supposed to be 9 months clean, yet she was acting exactly like my sister in the midst of her relapse. Self-absorbed, combative, wildly moody, over-the-top dramatic and always the victim.

This is not the way someone 9 months clean acts. At least, not in my experience.

At 7 months clean, my sister is a completely different person than she once was, and she's really been improving every month of her recovery. Maybe she's just kicking major ass, but I still have a hard time believing that someone with even more clean time under her belt would behave like such a user.

This movie would have made a lot more sense to me if Kym only had 3 months of clean time -- and was in her "pink cloud" right before it comes crashing down into a whirlwind of reality, responsibility... and relapse. THAT is more believable. And just as tragic.

Whiny Sister

Rachel, the older sister, was someone I could simply not relate to. Yeah, she had kind of a wacky, nontraditional wedding, but I'm not talking about Bride Rachel. I'm talking about Sister Rachel.

1. She did not make her sister maid of honor.
2. She did not let her sister sit at the main family table.
3. She was really pissed off that her family focused all their attention on Kym during and after her drug use.

On drugs or not, my sister was my maid of honor. I did not have any expectation of her in terms of party planning, helping out with details or gushing about any of the excitement swirling around us. But she's my sister.

I knew that the MOH position was going to be whatever she made out of it, and if she didn't give two shits then I knew she'd be the one who looked back on it with regret. Not me.

What'd she do? She helped tremendously with the rehearsal dinner when the buses weren't showing up, she helped day-of when she demanded that the hotel bring bar stools to my room for the make-up artist and she gave a fantastic speech at the reception. She deserved the opportunity to be a part of the happiness and she took it.

As for the fictional Rachel not letting her sister sit at the family table, that was just ridiculous. I understand being so completely pissed off and hurt by your addict sister than you just want her to go away, but it creates so much more tension and so much more drama by being such a bratty fucking bride. Enough already.

And as far as the last point -- Rachel whining about not getting any attention -- well, I don't really relate to that either.

Trust me, I'm a needy first-born with a stubborn streak and a princess mindset, but when you've got a family member in crisis, EVERYONE is focused on her -- including you.

When I'd call home, my greeting would always be, "How's she doing?" When my parents would call me, they'd often give me an update before I could even ask. There wasn't time to feel neglected. There wasn't any energy to throw my own tantrums. The family rallied and that was that.

The Tiptoeing

Maybe this is just a personality thing, but I'm pretty blunt. Especially with my sister. It's an older sister's job, is it not?

In Rachel Getting Married, Kym was all whiny and pissy about how her dad was constantly watching over her, always asking where she was going, offering to drive her. She felt like a prisoner and couldn't understand why she wasn't being trusted.

The movie answer? "He does that because he loves you."

My answer, when I had this exact conversation with my sister? "You haven't earned back any trust! You lost it all on your own with your reckless, addict behavior and you have no one to blame but yourself. You want more trust? Prove you deserve it. And here's how..."

Harsh? Perhaps. Bossy, even. But she needed to hear it.

I don't tiptoe arround the addict thing. I don't tiptoe around the "I'm a victim" rationalizing. I don't think it does her any favors to sugarcoat the reality of the situation she's put herself in.

Addicts are used to blaming other people. Sometimes, they need to be reminded that they are responsible for their actions in order to grow in their recovery. Being responsible means you're in control. And that's a good thing.

So, overall, I wasn't too moved by Rachel Getting Married. Parts of it were heartbreaking, but so much more of it wasn't relatable to me. At all.

I guess I had expected a little too much from it. Expected too many parallels. In that respect, it simply wasn't there.

That said, I'd watch it again with my sis. Would be interesting to get her thoughts on it. You never know, maybe I'm way off in my review. (Doubt it though because I'm the big sister and big sisters are ALWAYS right about little sisters. Aren't we?)

Would be interesting to get your thoughts as well. Maybe I'm just too close to this whole scenario to appreciate what the movie was trying to do...


Brick Cedar said...

It is good to know she has someone as faithful as you around.

ANG* said...

i know we talked about this the other night, but it just made me uncomfortable. it felt realistic, but i agree that certain things were over the top. i meannnnn it is a movie.

then again, i had very high hopes of being moved and blah blah blah indie movie talk - but it left me with the feeling of "eh."

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a good movie and I think that it was realistic, despite what you say. Not all addicts are the same, trust me. I can understand that you were trying to draw parallels to make you relate, but life doesn't really work like that. I can tell you that not all addicts are self-absorbed and it's ridiculous to generalize that way.

Carrie said...

carrie thinks single should read more na literature.

"As addicts, however, we seem to falter along the way. We never seem to outgrow the selfcenteredness
of the child. We never seem to find the self-sufficiency that others do. We continue
to depend on the world around us and refuse to accept that we will not be given everything. We
become self-obsessed;"

IP Triangle of Self-Obsession

elle michelle said...

Brick: She knows she's loved. :-)

Ang: Yes! It was a general feeling of "eh" for me too. They definitely had the portrayal of an addict down, but not someone who's been in recovery that long!

Single: I'm guessing you know addicts but have never lived with one. And never attended an open NA meeting, bothered to read the literature or otherwise educate yourself about the disease. It's very nice that you think you knew unselfish addicts, but this disease, by definition, is selfish and addicts are NOT encouraged to think of themselves as exceptions to the rule -- it's a slippery slope back into the throes of addiction. What's "ridiculous" is speaking with such conviction when it's obvious you haven't quite done your research.

Carrie: You're the best. Perhaps a less bitchy version of me. LOVE YOU!

Life in a Cube said...

I did not like that movie at all. I had to stop it at the end of the rehearsal dinner where the bride shitted on her sister by not letting her sit at the main table. That scene was too long and too boring. They should of put only the important parts of that scene in not the other boring speeches.

Audrey said...

I have not seen this movie yet, but plan on checking it out after your post.

I was in a relationship with a cocaine addict for two years, and lived with him for 6 months.

Selfishness is understated and misunderstood in the disease of addiction.

Addiction is very much tied to selfishness. One who thinks it is not, perhaps is not yet able to see to the truth. There can be a lot clouding one's judgement, including love, hope, sorrow, anger, etc.

Single, I do agree that generalizations are ridiculous, but remember you on a blog site that is personal to Elle Michelle.

Tells us your experience in addiction that leads your belief?

I am sure it is important to you.

Carrie said...

it is called being in denial. if you do not accept and acknowledge character defects then there is no hope of asking god to remove them. i feel bad for the kid. honesty is the antidote to our disease way of thinking. addicts are self centered. we want what we want when we want it. but by working the 12 steps there is hope to not acting out on those defects. GHOD!!(by the way, for you earth people, that means get honest or die)

TKTC said...

I was definitely on the fence about you seeing this one. Not so much because you're not tough as nails but more so because there's no way to paint an exact picture and falling short is a very irritating feeling.
Addicts aren't the only people who end up selfish- I related to Rachel in feeling like I would have guarded my me-moments (like a wedding) with an electrified rod after years of back and forth for someone else. The mom interactions were the hardest-hitting for me and as story itself went, that relationship was the most telling.
That said, your family does good work for one another and I'm with you on the "9 months sober for dramatic effect" problem.

Rebekah said...

I really liked the movie. I cried a little - or maybe a lot.

I have never been in a situation like the one you've gone through with your family and I can't imagine the pain you've been through. I don't know the details of the situation surrounding your sister's addiction and recovery, but the thought that first pops into my mind when you mention the comparison between your struggle and the one portrayed in the movie was the fact that Kym killed her little brother, however accidentally, because she was on drugs. That seems to be what the screenwriters were using as the impetus for the family's behavior toward her - not just her addiction.

My impression of Rachel's behavior was that her rage manifested itself in jealousy, and that Kym's behavior, even after 9 months of sobriety, might have been driven by the fact that she was back with the family for the first time in months and confronted at every turn with memories of what she did. I get the impression - although it's never stated in the movie - that her family was not very present in her life during her recovery.

It seems like these stories can go so many ways. Like I said, I have never been through anything like this myself, so it is interesting to hear your perspective as someone who has.

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