I’m starting my last season of Ally McThiel. Oops, I mean McBeal. The second to last season is the one with Robert Downey, Jr.. It’s so sad because the childhood love of her life (Billy) dies, and then she meets Robert Downey, Jr. (Larry) and they seem so perfect for each other. I’ve seen the series before so I knew what was coming.
Larry is planning on proposing to Ally, so he starts acting weird. Ally notices his odd behaviors and thinks it is because Larry is planning his exit. She knows that Larry is scared to death of being close to someone, so she erroneously misreads his intentions. Larry gives the engagement ring to a waiter, who stupidly puts it in the wrong dessert and delivers it to the wrong table. (Just added fun fact: that table is a couple where the guy IS trying to break up with the girl. Big oops on both counts.) Larry decides it’s an omen and then does, indeed, leave Ally.
Now, some may watch the show and criticize Ally for assuming the wrong thing. I don’t criticize her at all. She is astute to know that his behavior is noticeably off. If Larry had the ability to communicate with her, she would not have misread it. And in the end? She was correct. He did leave her. He was unable to sustain intimacy.
In an earlier episode, Ally talks on her birthday about how she has dealt with loneliness as one of her most gut-wrenching struggles throughout her life. She made a statement that struck me as I’ve heard other of my married friends say it before. She said being WITH someone and still being lonely, is much, much worse. It’s a whole other level of lonely.
In discussing the show with someone, I made the comment about Larry’s intolerance of intimacy. That really took my friend by surprise because he had never heard that expression before. Unfortunately, both professionally and personally it is a concept I am quite familiar with. Sometimes, no matter what the heart wants, a person (man or woman) finds they cannot sustain intimacy for long periods of time. You can protect yourself from intimacy in a number of ways.
Probably the easiest is to select partners (usually unconsciously) that also can’t tolerate intimacy. There might be lots of built-in ways to keep enough distance. Maybe it’s a job where you travel a lot. Maybe the person emotionally withdraws. But if you stumble upon a partner that IS capable of intimacy, in spite of thinking you have wanted that your whole life, you may sabotage the relationship because you just can’t sustain the closeness. It triggers too much fear.
Anyhow, I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this (seems to be a theme in my blogs lately) but suffice it to say that even on the second run, I still get Ally McBeal. I get what it means to be in a relationship and still be lonely. I get what it means to taste love and then watch it disappear. I understand her. She’s certainly not perfect, but I understand her sad (yet happy), quirky, clumsy self. I get it in my forties as much as I did in my thirties (or was it my twenties?).
Larry made a big mistake walking away. Just saying.