Note that this post has a few spoilers from the Season 6 Finale of Mad Men, so read with caution!
I’ve always been a fan of the show Mad Men. The people, the time, the place, the industry, it is everything that I love all wrapped up in to a television show. It is one of the few that I watch these days and although it does focus around everything that I have a passion for, it is ultimately the people that draw me in to the story. Most notably, Don Draper.
I’ve felt connected with this character ever since the first episode, and it’s only gotten stronger as his story, and my life, have unfolded over the past 6 years. I’ve been on a similar story arc as Don, almost to the point where it has been scary. My own character has been developing, for the better and worse, in parallel to Don, battling many of the same demons and facing many of the same consequences.
Tonight, I just finished watching the season finale, and I feel more connected to the character than ever before. Don has been on a downward spiral for several seasons now, his relationships with many different people in his life have become strained, his drinking has gotten out of control, and he seems to have lost all that charm, talent, and charisma that brought him so much success in the past.
You can only live a lie for so long.
Don hit rock bottom tonight, and faced many realizations and consequences that were a long time coming. Because of how people perceived him, these consequences were delayed, and because of how he was living, these realizations were left in the dark.
I was a little ahead of Don this year, when I hit rock bottom, when I faced my consequences, and struggled with my realizations. But tonight’s show reminded me that we all can go through rough times, regardless if we brought them upon ourselves or not. That despite how bad things get, we can find hope in even the pieces of shattered life if we look close enough.
It is what we do, once we’ve hit the bottom that defines us. We all slip, but it is what we do after we slip that will determine our success in the future.
The next season of Mad Men won’t return until next spring most likely, and it will be very interesting to see where both Don and I have ended up. We’re both on a journey of realization, rebuilding and redemption. I don’t know if Don will find it, but I damn sure will.
I always appreciate when I receive new followers to my blog. Every time I do, I read their About page and check out what they are writing about. What I have found is that a lot of people are going through the same kind of journey that I am. Their motivations may be different, and their intended destination may vary from my own, but I do see a lot of people, similar to myself, going through the same kind of self discovery that I am. It is comforting to know that there are others out there, many, many others that have experienced confusion about their own existence and have taken it upon themselves to better understand who they are and where they wan to go. This type of journey can sometimes feel very solitary, but when I see so many others, I feel good about my quest, I feel good about humanity. I feel normal.
One of the biggest obstacles for me on this journey, as if there weren’t enough of them, was to overcome my negative feelings towards my family. I didn’t have a particularly smooth childhood and as an adult I was left with feelings of disappointment and resentment towards them. I nursed this pain for years and both myself and my parents rarely reached out to try to repair all of the damage that has been done. It has been frustrating to not have that family connection that so many people take for granted. I wanted it, but because of our past, we wouldn’t even try.
Going through my journey this year, I found a renewed urge to reconnect with my family. I had been working out my issues with my councellor and learned to forget the pain and focus on all the good things that happened in my childhood. I felt great to let that weight go, I have been carrying it for so long and it just felt normal to keep it there.
I was the one to reach back out to my family and when I did, I received great response. Things moved quickly back towards a positive relationship with them and I felt great that I could recapture what I thought was lost forever. When I rekindled with her, it became a personal mission to build a strong relationship with all members of my family so if and when she and I got married, she would be able to enjoy a second family. For several weeks now we’ve been planning a visit to to parents house. And to make things more exciting, my sister, who lives very far away, came down this week as well. So it was going to be a perfect trip to get her to see my entire family, and it would be great for me to see my entire family after I’ve been making all the progress I have. I felt really good about it all.
This morning we were supposed to travel up there, but I received not one, but two disappointments. My mother and my sister, both changed the plans and didn’t give me much warning. One of my mother’s cats fell ill and had to be put down so my mother was obviously upset and not up for a fun friendly visit, so although I was deeply disappointed, I understood. What made things worse was my sister cancelling on me this morning. She is the one that is very difficult to see regularly because of where she lives, so it was a very exciting time to be able to see her and have her meet my love. But without warning, my sister went back home and only told me after. Even with countless requests from me to stick around at least for the morning so we could see each other. It is extremely disappointing. I want to try so hard to rebuild with my family, and it feels like they don’t care. Maybe they are not ready, maybe they just don’t want to. I really can’t say.
I suppose these things happen though, and it shouldn’t be taken personally. We can visit my parents any time, they aren’t too far away, and I guess I’ll just have to work something out with my sister again before the summer is out. I want to stay positive with all this but it is very difficult. Families are frustrating and a lot of work. I can’t just expect things to be perfect right away just because I feel like I am ready. They need time to adjust too. Baby steps. We’ll get there.
To be honest, it is actually a bit of a relief to know that everything is now out in the open. For so long I’ve been trying to live my life and keep these dark secrets. It has been difficult over the past few years to bear the burden of my past actions and still keep a smiling face and positive attitude. Now, it is all out there for the world to see, and I don’t have to worry about keeping it hidden any longer. Now, I just have to focus on moving forward.
“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
All of my life, I’ve lived for the approval and acceptance of others. From my early days, where I was shy, and lacked confidence in myself to even now, I was filled with insecurity that I thought could only be fixed with appraisal of others. My life was focused on the goal. It was misguided though, and I put myself into situations that were insincere to my own life and I only focused on living for others, not myself.
With everything I have been going through, I am realizing both through my own reflection and through the actions and words of others I once respected that seeking approval from everyone, is futile.
I only need to seek approval from the people who really matter.
Having every single person that I have ever met like me is a fools errand. It is impossible to maintain, distracts from my own growth, and is stressful beyond anything else.
It is the trust and respect of a the few people in your life that truly matters.
When we earn trust and respect, no matter what it is we do or where ever we go, we do it rightly so because we know that those who matter in our life our behind us, and will support us, no matter what happens.