This past week I finished watching the television series called The Fall (2013-2016). I watched it all the way through over a few weeks time. It is dark, and intense. The story of a serial killer (Jamie Dornan) in Belfast, Ireland, and the detective (Gillian Anderson) brought in to track him down. It was a bit of psychological warfare for me, watching this series. I don’t want to spoil it for those watching or going to watch the series, so I will just say that the serial killer, played by Irish actor Jamie Dornan (same guy from the 50 shades movies, although I have never watched them) eerily reminded me of my youngest brother. I mean REALLY reminded me of my brother. The look, including the beard, and the mannerisms, ugh, this made the whole thing difficult. Jamie and my brother are roughly the same age, same build, very similar eyes… I’m still a bit unhinged. Watching the final couple episodes this past Friday night about did me in. I could feel the old feelings of anxiety creeping in, the post traumatic stress, the shaking, the racing heart, the feeling of needing to flee. I fought to stay present and it really affected me.
Not only did I struggle with feeling like I was watching my sweet brother as a sadistic serial killer, but in the last episodes they delve into the character’s psychological dysfunction, going back to early childhood, and… his relationship with his mother. This left me thinking about Blue Eyes and all his shit. The character in this TV series is a family man, married, father of two. He looks very normal. This is not a spoiler. The series follows the serial killer from the very beginning. You see clearly his two sides. I slept fitfully and those very disturbed feelings stayed with me into Saturday. Blue Eyes and I took a drive over to the beach house. On the drive I was left with that mind numbing question in my head… how could he do it? How could Blue Eyes be two different people. Obviously he’s not a serial killer, but he still had a sad, secret life driven by some serious psychological issues that allowed him to rationalize horrible behavior.
I asked him in the car, for maybe the thousandth time, how could he do it. How can a person lie every single day to their loyal and loving spouse. How can you lead a double life for so many years. How can you do things that you know will absolutely destroy your life partner’s sense of safety and security. He knew what he was doing was wrong and so hurtful. He knew he was stealing time from us, and creating dysfunctional sexual relationships based on some inner demon he refused to name. He wasn’t raping and killing women with his uncontrollable urges, obviously, but he was doing things he knew to be destructive, devastating really. And he somehow rationalized it. This is that I get it, NO I DON’T GET IT, part of reconciling my husband’s sex addiction with what I thought was my reality for 30 years. This is so fucking difficult to metabolize. What was he thinking? What was going through his head? He did a lot of hiding and lying and betraying. I know he felt “shame,” but what else did he feel. Why did he think he did it? How did he rationalize it?
He says he didn’t know why he did it and that he was determined I would never find out. But there is something really wrong with a person who can go day after day rationalizing lying about such a significant part of his life, and then orchestrating the reveal of the secret life without even thinking about what that would do to me. I know he was scared, felt shameful, blah, blah, blah, worried about what would happen to him, but was he thinking about me, at all. Thinking of what my reaction would be, what the consequences would be to me when he didn’t answer her phone call. He kept her a secret for more than eight years. Fifteen years of grooming and cheating. Did he ever wonder what would actually happen when his secrets were revealed? I don’t think he did. I think he only thought about how it would affect him. He would lose his secret sex life and feel overwhelming shame, more shame, or whatever. But I honestly don’t think he thought seriously about the devastation he would cause ME.
In the show, it’s interesting how the wife responds when she finds out the truth about her husband. Those feelings of knowing you lived with a person for years not really knowing who they were.