Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down

A few months back my boyfriend and I watched the movie Big Eyes. It starred Amy Adams, whom I’ve always enjoyed in movies probably because of her prettiness and red hair. She gives elegant performances and always looks like she’s thinking deeply, something that can maybe be missed by people who get preoccupied with physical beauty.

In this movie the same actor who played the cruel August in Water For Elephants played yet another character even more disturbing and chilling than August. Life had toughened me up a little bit through a series of difficult events, the nature of which I could not fathom even as I lived through them, but one of the results was that I had lost my habit of crying when in pain. However, there was a moment in this movie when I realized that this poor woman’s husband had stolen from her. Stolen the right to take credit for the byproduct of her soul’s work. He took money and public credit that resulted in his international fame while she did her life’s work in the confines of his imprisonment and I cried uncontrollably for this woman and the terrible violation she suffered at his actions.  I thought he was actually taking away her life, which he attempted to do later in the terrible chain of events.

The artist’s name was Margaret Keane, a very talented and dedicated painter with a vision that she spent her life creating to the joy of countless art and culture lovers. Her ex-husband was not just an opportunist, but a dangerously selfish man who witnessed her suffering from his actions and only continued to think of his own gain from their relationship. He showed he had no care for life because he didn’t seem to comprehend that her art was essentially her life. Nor did he seem to appreciate that her entire focus and being went into the results he took as his own and treated as a commodity to manipulate and sell.

He took and signed his name to her paintings, told them he was selling them for her, and aggressively marketed them as his own to San Francisco high society. He wanted people to think he was an artist. He didn’t even have the ability to sit and use the discipline it takes to learn how to paint or create a single piece of artwork. I felt an unsettling chill for a few days after watching Big Eyes. I even cried a few more times for her and looked her up on Google to find intense satisfaction at the photos of an older Margaret Keane with a peaceful smile on her face.

She is still painting.

I have so much admiration for her. She lived with a manipulative husband who preyed upon her talents and vulnerability and lived to put her tormentor in her rear view mirror with her life and her child’s life intact. That is no small feat most woman can’t do alone. Life was looking out for her in the end of those series of painful events that, let’s face it, when looked at realistically could have ended her life. I could not be any happier for happy endings of stories like hers, but the happy ending is never a justification for the actions of a man like Margaret Keane’s ex-husband.

She may have created her own luck with her sweetness, talent, and creativity. Her skills are what I think helped her get out of her situation. She knew how to take one big risk and look for smaller opportunities she needed for her own private set of circumstances and realized she had to put her and her daughter’s safety first, too, when her husband’s true destructive potential came to light.

Even if you are the one in a bind, other people around you can recognize when you are a woman in trouble. Like the reverse of the cliché about a better woman behind the good man, they can often sense that there might be a bad guy at least partially to blame. During these times your safety, survival, and thriving come first. Life will help you out if you are looking to help yourself. Strangers will look out for you better than the people in your rear view mirror have, especially if you have done your best with your best intentions. Life is looking out for you. Others can’t take on all of your struggles, but keeping your goal in mind, you will see how small gestures of kindness can act like a trampoline. Small gestures become a reservoir of good faith that can buoy you out of that situation, if you are light enough to fly. A cup of coffee, a lunch, or bus ticket to get you physically away from what you need to leave behind is so much better than the past that led you to those circumstances.

This is just my advice but: if any of those people offering help, and instead of listening to you, try to tell you about yourself, consider dropping whatever they are offering and run like hell for your life. Don’t consider it. Do it. There is another helping hand out there. Another safety net that you can’t see yet. One that will fit your needs much better.

 

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