Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops. ~Cary Grant
I normally don’t watch movies like Silver Linings Playbook. The reason for this is simple: my time is limited, and I’d rather watch movies about puppies or grand adventures or famous landmarks exploding than I would movies about dysfunctional families screaming at ear-exploding volumes.
Up until a few years ago I was relatively sheltered from the dysfunctional family. Our family had its share of issues but there were no Hollywood-worthy scandals to speak of (unless one wants to count my wayward uncle, and I don’t.) I am an only child. I have Asperger’s ( thoughI didn’t know officially until 2011, and Mom and Dad simply thought I was being obstinate). I am adopted. I sometimes despised my parents and sometimes loved them more than life itself. So yeah, there were issues. But not I-need-serious-therapy issues and not let’s-wake-up-the-neighbors issues.
A lot of people seem to love these flicks about families gone wrong. They regularly clean up at awards shows. To me, I don’t want my art imitating life. At least not too closely. My readers will know that I hardly ever talk about my family. The reason for this is mostly privacy, but also because my blog was meant to be mostly about fantasy and pop culture. It is about what could be, not what is.
I did identify with one characteristic of the protagonist of Silver Linings Playbook, who is unlike me in most every other way. It’s the actual concept of “silver linings.”
As an Aspie I’m often accused of not living in the real world. I immerse myself in the world of pop culture, my books, my writing. I maintain an elaborate Walter Mitty-style fantasy life inside my head. And I’m also stable, independent, and have a decent job without having been thrown in jail. It’s good. It keeps me sane.
The silver linings part of it is about my incurable optimism. Or maybe my weird sense of pragmatism. I’m not sure which.
I even look at my (extended) dysfunctional family through this perspective. Until a few years ago they were an afterthought. They were straw men and women to whom I wrote letters, made the occasional phone call, and exchanged gifts with at the holidays. They were hardly more real to me than Santa Claus and far more dysfunctional. Through my dad I heard sordid tales of meth addiction, fatherless kids, multiple divorces, and an endless supply of drama that seemed more appropriate for Jersey Shore than my own life. It was two states away and didn’t affect me.
Now it does, though only indirectly, since that side of the family now live in my area. I don’t make many associations with them. I don’t have to because of my job and because, to them, I am like a museum exhibit. Look, but don’t touch. They also don’t know about my AS. I suppose they think I’m well on my way to spinsterhood and a bevy of cats. I don’t dissuade them from this idea.
What I do worry about is the cumulative affect of this dysfunction on Mom and Dad, to whom I am now very close. That’s where the silver linings come in.
The old adage tells us that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Where once our little family unit was tense and, dare I say, on its way to being estranged, now we are closer than ever. We understand one another. We are not the dysfunctional family who smash objects and shout at one another over bad meat loaf. Instead, we have calm, rational discussions. We talk, whether it’s about our jobs or times gone by. We engage in real conversations. I hate to say this, but before the dysfunctional folks arrived, we almost never did that. It’s amazing how much a common adversary can bond people together.
As for the Dysfuncties themselves, maybe they have a silver lining too. I’m not sure what it is. Their lifestyles are alien and distant to me (just like the idea of Bradley Cooper slavishly devoted to his lost wife is kinda weird to me). My MO is to stay aloof and impartial. They are NTs with NT issues. I’m an Aspie with AS issues. Never the twain shall meet. While they’re arguing over whether it’s OK to let a teenage girl run a tattoo parlor, I’m sitting at home watching Sunday Night Baseball and downing a cold green tea.
That’s my silver lining…that and the fact that Bradley Cooper was also in The A-Team.
What’s your silver lining?
Coming this week: Interview with the Site Mascot and contest winners!