Sitting Shivah for Jen and Ben….and their loss of privacy

Today, I am in mourning. True sorrowful mourning. Admittedly, when I saw the tabloid cover reporting the near dissolution of their marriage, it sent shock waves through me. Sure, he’s an alcoholic, and has a gambling problem – but no one is perfect, right? She’s gorgeous, smart, talented — what man would not want to be married to her? She’s as demure as she is a total and complete bad ass (um hello, remember Alias??).  Maybe she is controlling? What working mom is not to some degree. Most importantly, they have three gorgeous kids together. When they got together years ago, it seemed like a match made in heaven. You kind of just knew they would end up together- their onscreen presence in Daredevil (admittedly, I did not see the movie, but the promotional posters said it all). When they married, I secretly hoped it would the THE modern Hollywood fairytale. Move over Tom and Rita — Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have arrived.  She, like the rest of the female species, drooled over his good looks.  Men drooled over all of her – period.  G-d knows, with the divorce rate being what it is in Hollywood, let alone the US these days, we needed Bennifer part deux to be the real deal.

Sure, there were signs. His Oscar acceptance speech for Argo (our marriage is work – but the best kind….WTF?!) was not a good omen — was it the beginning of the end? Or maybe it was the end of the beginning for them. The end of the courtship — which she fully acknowledged was long gone–but there’s truth to that. You need not be in the spotlight to acknowledge that relationships change as they endure the test of time – like old pairs of shoes, you stop working them in and just wear them. Until they get worn out.

Yesterday, the news broke. And with it my heart — for them, for the hope, and for their kids. Shivah began at precisely 5 pm when I saw the post on Facebook. What followed was even more harrowing — surfing the internet incessantly for any bit of information to confirm what I refused to believe. And there it was — everywhere. Confirmation that they are indeed splitting.

Today is the second day of shivah for Jen and Ben. I mourn the loss of yet another fairytale — and the idea that there is no such thing as the fairytale. Fairytales just set everyone up for failure. Talk about outrageous expectations. I mean seriously — who wears a glass slipper to a ball anyway? Who has mice make a ball gown not once, but twice, that requires no alterations? Yet, we all cling to them for one simple reason, I believe: that we too might be so lucky to experience a tiny drop of it.  Glass slipper in size 6 please?

But what saddens me most is not the fact that they are divorcing (which is so sad, don’t get me wrong). It’s the fact that they have to divorce publicly. The truth is people are people – whether their faces are blasted all over newspapers, magazines, 20 foot screens, or 4×6 photos in your office. They have problems just like the rest of us. They understand that marriage is as much about loving the person with your whole self as it is hating them just as much. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. And what I mourn more than their split is how public it is, and how hard that must be for them and their kids. When something ends, when your heart breaks, it’s visceral, palpable. It overtakes you and overwhelms you. Then you add flashing lights and tabloids — and inquiring minds (I’m one of them, and I apologize). I’m sorry you have to endure this, and so sorry your kids have to experience any of this to boot. I sit shivah and pray that the media grows a set of values that include respect and integrity to allow Hollywood personalities the one thing we all deserve: privacy. Where is that invisible bubble shield when we need it??

xo Betina

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