How An Episode of Ally McBeal Woke Me Up Tonight


I was just so deeply, emotionally moved and brought to tears that I had to start writing while the experience was still fresh.  We all know that television shows are works of fiction, but most of us also know that if you bring together some magic ingredients like great acting, characters you love, and dramatic moments that all of humanity can relate to, the recipe is ripe for an emotional experience. This is what happened for me tonight.

A couple of months ago, Netflix's clever recommendation system thought that I might enjoy a show from the nineties called Ally McBeal, and it made the suggestion. I've been hooked since the first episode. Maybe it's the quirky lead Ally and her fellow attorney John, "the Biscuit," who I most identify with and adore. But I also grew fond of the character Billy.   At first, his character didn't have much depth for me, and I was confused as to why he was such a deep object of affection for so many of the female characters in the show.

In recent episodes, his behavior had grown to be erratic and irritating. He behaved like a male chauvinist pig, and while I appreciated that the show's writers finally gave his character more dimension, the emotions I had toward him were disgust, judgment, and dislike.

If you're just getting to know the show on Netflix like me, Spoiler Alert!

Well, it turns out that Billy actually had a brain tumor, and that's what was causing his erratic behavior.  At first they thought it was benign, but within just a couple of episodes, the hallucinations he was experiencing became more frequent and severe, and he suddenly passed away.  I couldn't believe it. I thought perhaps another character was having a nightmare and would wake up. But, as when something tragic happens in real life, this was no nightmare. Perhaps the shock of the sudden loss of this character tugged at my heart because it reminded me of how realistic it is for any one we love, or even us, to suddenly be gone. Life is so fragile.

It also reminded me of how unfair I can be with my judgments. We never really know what is going on with a person.  Even if someone is acting like a total ass, while it may not be a brain tumor in most cases, we might never know the pain, hurt, and trauma that led up to the exterior demonstrations that they allow us to see.  We may never know the hurt deep within their heart.  I pray that I can grow in compassion and reduce the judgments I have of others (and of myself). I tend to be critical when I would like to be more compassionate and loving. Who am I to judge?!

I pray that the sentiment that is heavy on my heart after this episode -- the reality that we need to cherish, love, and treat well those people in our lives that we care about, right here and right now -- STAYS with me long beyond tonight.


Some lessons I learned or had re-awakened tonight from watching this episode of Ally McBeal:
  • You never know the cause of someone's behavior. Judgments without all of the facts are just opinions and interpretations, and we can often be wrong. It's better to be openhearted, loving, and caring with all people.  (Of course you don't stick around for abuse -- you take care of yourself and stand up for yourself, but in the case when you can opt for kindness while still being in integrity with yourself and staying safe -- well, for me, it's what I want to do.)
  • We never know how long we have with the people in our lives. Things can suddenly happen and they can be whisked away to the after world without warning. I want to not take people for granted. I want to treat those I love with the same love and compassion today that I would wish I had treated them with if they were suddenly gone. Let's not wait until it's too late to genuinely love those around us.
  • (TW) Borderline Personality Disorder can sometimes get us caught up in some selfish thoughts. There is cause for why we can get so wrapped up in our own drama and get depressed and even feel suicidal. Think about someone you love dearly and how you would feel if they were gone. Know that, believe it or not, if you were to take your life, you would have that impact on them. It's a pain that people never truly get over. If you are depressed to the point where you want to hurt yourself and you can't even think about your own well-being, I urge you to reach out and get help anyway. Think of your loved ones and the impact on them.
  • I am going in for an EEG and an MRI later this month to be sure I do not have a brain tumor or that I didn't have a stroke. I've been having some symptoms, and though my neurologist says that he thinks I am fine based on some tests he did, he is having me undergo the exams to put mine and my psychiatrist's minds at ease. The topic of the episode and how quickly the character died obviously hit close to home since I am going through this scare right now.  I thought I wanted to keep low key about it, but the truth is, as much as I believe I will be okay, there is a part of me that worries and is afraid. This show really got me thinking about the importance of taking care of ourselves, following through with appointments, and being open to life. I will accept the best possible care that is out there to be sure I am okay.
  • As much as painful emotional experiences may be uncomfortable, I find that they also hold within them powerful lessons. I seem to learn the most when I can get in touch with feelings like the ones evoked within me tonight.


Thank you for reading.
More soon.


1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you experienced some really powerful emotions tonight. You have written about them so well! I have been thinking a lot about my family lately - as currently I'm living with my parents, and we are all growing much closer. Losing one of them is something too painful to even think of. I will really draw on this emotional lesson the next time I am feeling suicidal ideation. xoxox

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