“Alison, you can have a Second Act. If you want to change your life, you have to do it now”.
I have been a fan of the Showtime series, The Affair, since the very first episode. I thought the first two seasons were some of the best TV writing I had ever seen. I wasn’t a huge fan of the darkness of the third season, but that’s another story. The wonderfulness is back in Season 4 and I love it.
It was the last scene of Episode 6 that actually made me rewind and watch again. Helen was talking to Alison about changing her life and creating a Second Act. The speech hit so close to home, and the site that Mimi and I created, Living The Second Act.
“Change the narrative.”
“You can manifest your reality.”
“If there is something in your life you need to change, think differently.”
“Tell yourself a different story.”
“Play a different character.”
When The Affair began, I related to Alison. She was broken after the death of her son, and that is how I felt after my husband passed away. She was grasping for anything to keep her afloat. She thought Noah could save her, not realizing that he was equally as damaged.
It is now years later and, after a horrible day, Alison finds herself asking advice from the most unexpected source, Helen.
Helen’s speech had me mesmerized. She was dead-on, not only for Alison, but for so many others who find themselves lost.
Second Acts are for all of us: a career change, empty nest, a move etc. They can be huge or small. But for those who find themselves unhappy, or in a bad situation, they can be life changing, and sometimes you are the only person who can make it happen for yourself.
It is easy to be the victim, especially when we have reason to feel that way. Difficult childhood, tragic loss, spouse cheating, divorce…these are all terrible things to go through. I would never debate that. We all need time to recover, to lick our wounds and feel sorry for ourselves.
When we can’t let go of that “poor me” feeling, it can take over our lives. It can be an excuse in our own minds to feel like we just can’t win. The thing is, if we look at ourselves this way, others will see us this way also.
We can’t be happy if we see ourselves as the victim. The victim is never happy. There comes a time when we need to change the narrative, tell ourselves a different story, play a different character.
We are all different, and everyone has their own timeline. It may even take a certain event or hitting rock bottom as a catalyst for this change. I am not saying it’s easy, but eventually it is time to change the way we look at ourselves.
It may be as simple as that “lightbulb” going off and being able to think differently on our own. Other times, it takes work. For me, therapy helped me make a change in my own mind. This new thought process was probably what saved me.
Instead of thinking “poor me,” I now think “this horrible thing happened, and it will always be a part of me, but it doesn’t define me.”
Watching The Affair, most of us do not look at Alison as the victim. She is the husband stealer, after all. But when you peel back the layers of her character, it is apparent that Alison’s self-destructive behavior is the outcome of her feelings of loss and of being lost. It’s as if she feels she doesn’t deserve better. She sees herself as the victim.
Television can be a powerful medium. I hope that Helen’s speech struck someone out there and became a catalyst for their own change. Her words were truly meaningful.
I am curious to see how the rest of the season unfolds for Alison. I hope she takes Helen’s advice to heart, and changes her own narrative.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband tragically passed away. After a few very difficult years, she started The Widow Wears Pink, a blog about her widow life.
Stacy has been published in Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, Better After 50, Modern Loss, Grown & Flown,, Option B, Kveller, Mamalode, Sammiches & Psychmeds, and Thought Catalog. She is a contributor on Hope for Widows Foundation and freelances for Today.com. She is currently working on both her memoir and a fiction novel.