I wanted to sob when I saw Sandra Bullock, at the Golden Globes thanking her husband with “There’s no surprise that my work got better when I met you. Because I never knew what it felt like for someone to have my back.”
The worst thing about divorce is that no one has your back anymore. No longer are you the beloved, the one special person whom your husband protects and supports. In fact overnight that person, who formerly was your biggest defender, becomes your worst enemy—especially when infidelity is involved. I was married to someone for eighteen years who I felt was my best friend, who “had my back,” That’s why I couldn’t leave him even when he went into rages and turned on me, which he did frequently. I was always waiting for that best friend to reappear. Eventually he left me, something I could never have done. I’m not proud of it, but I was totally dependent on that feeling that someone “had my back,” and was willing to put up with just about anything to keep it. I think I know how Sandra Bullock must feel about now, and it’s about the worst feeling you could possibly have.
Bullock, unlike other impossibly beautiful actresses, seems like one of us. On Barbara Walters special she was down to earth, vulnerable, genuine. Despite her gorgeousness, I felt like she could be my buddy, we could have a drink together and share war stories about men. I have no idea what she’s really like, of course, because the reality is she is a Hollywood star and that changes people. She’s not the girl next door. However, she did wait until she was forty to get married, which shows a certain reluctance to give up her independence—and possibly a lack of confidence in her own choice of a life partner. She certainly chose an unlikely man to have her back—a bad boy type who had been previously married to a porn star. Part of the shock of his infidelity, with, of course the same type of trashy woman he’d been involved with previously, is the shattering of the dream. We all think we can change the bad boy into our ideal man. She must have wanted a protector, someone who would give her the feeling of being understood and accepted for exactly who she was no matter what. Actors and Hollywood types like herself, whom she had gone for previously, are narcissists who want the attention for themselves. They were not going to worship her like this macho reality TV guy who had probably never gone out with a real movie star, only porn stars. He probably told her, you’re my world, you’re my everything, and I will be there for you no matter what. He projected an illusion of strength and promised to be that knight in shining armor that we all dream about, and she bought it because she wanted to buy it, not because it was true.
His fall from grace is, unfortunately, also hers, calling into question her judgment in marrying Mr. Wrong. It’s also an occasion for us women to look at our own choices in men, at what sacrifices and bad judgment we will use to find someone who “has our back.” It’s very hard to wind up alone when you’re not young and gorgeous because the guy who you thought had your back was only a fantasy man—you invented that quality in him, he didn’t really have it. Sandra Bullock will bounce back—she has lots of support—and so will most of us. But the only way she, and we, can avoid making the same mistake twice is not to look to a man for the kind of unconditional love we missed out on when we were kids. There is true love and true friendship, but it usually doesn’t come in a package like Jesse James.