Jane Fonda and “My Third Act”


Just like Jane, I am in my “Third Act”.

When my Mother died a year ago, I did exactly as Jane talks about in the video above.  I did a “Life Review”.

As Jane says,

“For me, it began as I was approaching my third act,my 60th birthday.How was I supposed to live it?What was I supposed to accomplish in this final act?And I realized that, in order to know where I was going,I had to know where I’d been.And so I went backand I studied my first two acts,trying to see who I was then,who I really was –not who my parents or other people told me I was,or treated me like I was.But who was I? Who were my parents –not as parents, but as people?Who were my grandparents?How did they treat my parents?These kinds of things.

I discovered a couple of years laterthat this process that I had gone throughis called by psychologists”doing a life review.”And they say it can give new significanceand clarity and meaningto a person’s life.You may discover, as I did,that a lot of things that you used to think were your fault,a lot of things you used to think about yourself,really had nothing to do with you.It wasn’t your fault; you’re just fine.And you’re able to go backand forgive themand forgive yourself.You’re able to free yourselffrom your past.You can work to changeyour relationship to your past.”

I started writing after my Narcissist Mother died.  I didn’t know she was a narcissist then, I thought she was just cruel and evil.  Never saying anything nice, or supportive or nurturing and always on the attack.  I realized while I began writing about her I was still angry – and I sounded that way too.  That’s not who I am.  Just when it came to my mother and my enabling family, who treated me as an uninvited dinner guest my whole life.  I thought I had a book in me….I’ve been telling stories about her for years.  But I couldn’t find my own voice to write in…..Nothing sounded like the stories I’ve been telling – which generally garnered a laugh.  Because when you hear some of the things that came out of a narcissist mothers mouth and said to a small child, you think it’s absurd. Plus, I’ve been putting a spin on it for years as a form of emotional protection.  One of the things I learned from my mother is how ugly a lack of empathy really is on a woman.  I needed to make a conscious choice to bulk up my empathy…..starting with her.

I knew I needed input on what I was writing (really feeling) and I knew I wasn’t going to get that from my husband who read everything I wrote (bless him) and from my friend who was spending an inordinate amount of time helping me as well.  So I decided to anonymously write what I was feeling on this blog.  At first nobody read it, so I made a plan to investigate successful blogs.  I learned so much from all of you.

Here’s where I found my voice.  I discovered just exactly how much pain everyone was in because of their experience with a cruel or non nurturing mother.  And just how many of  us there were, from a variety of sources I discover just how big my demographic was.  I read everyone’s post, I even joined a group on Facebook.

I didn’t want to be another person in pain trying to cope….I wanted to change the world, and with my mother gone, I finally thought I just might be capable.

Because my Mother (the old bat) had died, I had a different perspective than most.  I was experiencing the freedom of no contact.  No guilt because I had no contact.  No obligation because I had no guilt.  It was a glorious freedom I had never felt.  The only regret I had was not doing this “life review” of mine before she died.  My regret wasn’t because I wanted to develop a relationship with her, I just felt I had wasted SO much time being angry, thinking she was evil, hating anything that reminded me of her (sometimes even my own image).

The more research I did about her behavior, the more I had to look at her as a person with issues and baggage just like I have (just like we all have).

As Jane says,

“Now we’re all born with spirit, all of us,but sometimes it gets tamped down beneath the challenges of life,violence, abuse, neglect.  Perhaps our parents suffered from depression.Perhaps they weren’t able to love us beyond how we performed in the world.  Perhaps we still suffer from a psychic pain, a wound.  Perhaps we feel that many of our relationships have not had closure.  And so we can feel unfinished.  Perhaps the task of the third actis to finish up the task of finishing ourselves.”

There’s an old quote that no one seems to be able to identify the source:

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die”

With this as my mantra, along with a few others, I chose not to look at my past and think, Evil, Abusive, Cruel or Neglect.  I choose to use my “Third Act” looking back and thinking of my Mother as a woman tormented , a woman with no skill set or support to help her.  I do not condone, forgive, forget or justify, I merely acknowledge she was a woman, just like me with issues and baggage of her own that manifested itself in the form of an unattached non Mother.  She just wasn’t equipped to carry her baggage.  And what I need to do with my “Third Act” is help daughters (and sons) just like me realize peace even if they don’t share my years on this planet.

Have you done your “life review”?

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8 thoughts on “Jane Fonda and “My Third Act”

  1. This is where I am now. 59 years old, and doing my life review. Writing, reading, and learning. I didn’t know that my mother is a narcissist either, until I began to search out these blogs, and I certainly didn’t know that there are so many of us who have had mothers like mine. I, too, want to lose the anger, resentment, and judgment. That isn’t who I am, either. But neither will I condone or excuse. I see my mother (who is still alive) as very badly broken. I see myself as broken too, but in different ways.

    Empathy is the key, That, and truth. Empathy without truth has no real substance, and truth without empathy is cold and hard and kills the soul.

    I’m glad I found your blog, I’m going to find the beginning and read all the way through.

    Charity

    • Charity, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and then commenting. I’ve taken the time to look at yours too, and I think we have a lot in common!

      One thing I appreciate about blogging is, a comment like yours can erase years of damage caused by a narcissistic mother. I thank you for that kindness!

      I think, if you haven’t already, you’ll find the blogging community on this subject to be very supportive. I am fairly new to blogging as well, but I already feel a certain kinship with many other bloggers.

      I know blogging (both reading and writing) has helped me stay in a “non angry state of mind”. Somedays it’s a challenge, isn’t it.

      Stay well and stay in touch.

      Barbara Joy

  2. Yes, it is a challenge to stay in a “non angry state of mind.” In my case, I seem to need to allow myself to feel and fully acknowledge my anger, before I can then move past it into empathy. Sometimes when I’m remembering/writing certain parts of my story, my anger flares up all over again. When it does, I go ahead and feel it, acknowledge it, and then I release it. This method seems to work well for me, by actually helping me to get past the anger much more quickly. Sometimes when I’m very angry I will draw a picture of what my anger feels like. I am no artist, my drawing stinks, frankly. But it’s another tool that seems to help me get beyond the anger. If I don’t do something with my anger, it seems to just get buried and repressed, only to come out later in an inappropriate way.

    What do you do to get rid of your anger?

    Charity

    • This is what works for me. Everyday (without fail) I take a walk with my dog (at least 45 minutes long) and listen to a carefully crafted playlist on my iPhone. The music on my walking playlist is a great tempo for keeping the pace of a happy person. I’ve even been seen dancing with my dog, and as you said It’s so freeing to jst be me, and not twist myself up in a knot tring to explain something to someone who can’t , or won’t ever get it!

      Now do I FEEL happy all the time doing this? No. For me, I believe I need to behave as if I’m happy and the FEELING will catch up to me. I’m behaving my way into happiness. This started with a song I know from the musical “The King and I”.

      It’s called “Whistle a happy tune”, which incidentally on my playlist. If you’re interested I’ll send you a copy of my playlist…..It’s all over the place!

      Whenever I feel afraid
      I hold my head erect
      And whistle a happy tune
      So no one will suspect I’m afraid

      While shivering in my shoes
      I strike a careless pose
      And whistle a happy tune
      And no one ever knows I’m afraid

      The result of this deception
      Is very strange to tell
      For when I fool the people
      I fear I fool myself as well

      I whistle a happy tune
      And every single time
      The happiness in the tune
      Convinces me that I’m not afraid

      Make believe you’re brave
      And the trick will take you far
      You may be as brave
      As you make believe you are

      You may be as brave
      As you make believe you are

      While shivering in my shoes
      I strike a careless pose
      And whistle a happy tune
      And no one ever knows I’m afraid

      The result of this deception
      Is very strange to tell
      For when I fool the people
      I fear I fool myself as well

      I whistle a happy tune
      And every single time
      The happiness in the tune
      Convinces me that I’m not afraid

      Make believe you’re brave
      And the trick will take you far
      You may be as brave
      As you make believe you are

      • Thank you for this, I didn’t see your reply until today. My netbook was badly crippled by a trojan malware evil thing, a day after I dropped and messed up the wifi router, so I’ve been using my hubby’s laptop when I can pry it out of his hands, and pirating a neighbor’s wifi.. now we have a new router, and my new netbook arrived yesterday and I’m trying to figure out how to get all of the things I lost off of my other netbook without also transferring the trojan that all the anti-malware wouldn’t kill… guess I’m going to have to hire a geek. Sigh… I’m going to have to start whistling a happy tune just to keep my equilibrium.

        We have a dog whose greatest joy in life is going for a walk. I used to walk her at least 6 days out of 7, thru every kind of weather. Then my close cousin drowned last summer and I just stopped. Since then, both the dog and I have gained unwanted pounds. I must get back into the habit of walk-jogging with my Lady dog. I like the idea of listening to happy music while we walk, thanks for sharing that! I clicked on the link on your newest post for your itunes list, and it took me to the apple itunes place, but not to your list, probably one would have to be logged into your account to access your list from there. Is there any way you can post the names of your itunes here on your blog? Thanks!

        Charity

        PS If I don’t respond to your reply right away, it will be because I am still trying to figure out how to access everything from my new computer, I have to get all new passwords, what a pain – I still haven’t been able to get into my email yet on my new computer, because who knows what the password is, I had all of that saved on my old crippled computer.

      • Hey Charity, I hope your computer is getting back on the working side. I absolutely love hearing from you. I copied my current play list onto a page in my blog, you’ll be able to access it that way. Let me know how your walks are going.

  3. My mom is in her 3rd act, but I wouldn’t want to touch her life review — actually, last year she tried to use me to make some things in her life come true. I tried to help her achieve it until the whole thing turned into a horrible, newly abusive exercise. Although I took too darn long to break away from the situation in my effort to salvage something with my parents, I finally did, gaining strength from other children of narcissists.

    I have been angry at times, but my inner self is full of joy, always has been. Sadly, this was not only not encouraged, it was nearly squashed. I let myself feel angry when it hits me, and it seems to go away when it’s ready. It pops up when I hit personal walls that are derived from my abusive past, but I have actively worked towards removing those barriers. As I do, I still feel some pain for what was taken from me. I think that is fair to me to acknowledge it because when I try to force negative feelings away without acknowledging them, I’ve found them attacking me in hidden, awful ways, as if my abuser is still living inside me.

    I feel better every day I choose to stay away from my parents. I still have plenty of work to do — trying to still believe I deserve the life I have, that being seen and heard is not something I will be shot down for if I am kind and joyous. I cry like a fool a lot lately, which I never used to do. I think it’s positive (I don’t like it, though) because I used to not be allowed sadness either. I don’t think I hold resentments, though. Anger and resentment aren’t the same. My mother is full of resentments and does nothing to improve her lot, just blaming, blaming, blaming. In fact, one of her last notes to me was a literal list of “I resent this about you, I resent this about you, I resent this about you….” I think there were about six or seven of them, pretty much unfair and ridiculous. Seeing it set me free.

    It’s all a process. I don’t know if I will ever see my mother as a woman like me or stop feeling some shade of anger. I’m not going to push myself either way, just see what happens as I take care of me.

    • I hear ya! If you asked anybody I’ve ever worked with or any of my friends they’d all tell you one common thing about me – I’m the funny one. My parents never laughed. I never knew I was funny until I got far enough away from them, humor was how I hid my anger.

      Even though we cut or limit contact with them, it’s like they’re always lurking in the shadows. A possibility of an attack at any given moment. I have to admit I have it easier than you, my NM died almost a year ago, both my N ex husbands have died and my two enabling brothers don’t speak to me are terminally ill. Freedom. I just wish I could have figured out how to “live like they’re dead” years ago.

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