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The Beaver
Written By: Mark Smith

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Okay, I know that this movie looks sort of silly. When I saw the trailer for ‘The Beaver’ I immediately told my friend that it looked incredibly stupid and that I would not be plunking down $10.00 to see Mel Gibson, of all actors channel his wounded psyche through a beaver puppet. But it was Friday night, I wanted to go out and the reviews were excellent so I decided to give The Beaver a chance. The movie was actually very powerful and very good. We all have wounded parts inside of us. We are ALL not so ok deep down. You know that, right?

Mel Gibson’s character, Walter Black, a severely depressed, middle-aged CEO of a toy company, especially resonated with me because six years ago I had a very similar experience. No, I didn’t develop a psychosis, only engage people through an animal hand puppet and then cut my arm off (sorry, I just ruined the movie for you). But I did have a dark character that was vastly different than the me that everyone had always known emerge from deep within shattered places within myself, take me over and then cause a great deal of confusion, pain and destruction for myself and my loved ones. I was as surprised as anyone by my addictive behavior. My new alter ego was not called ‘The Beaver’. Once I figured out what was going on I began to rightly call him ‘Relationship Addict’. His out of control acting out shocked everyone who knew me. His self-centered and uncaring manner resulted in the same type of humiliation, destruction and craziness that Walter experienced in the movie. I lost the respect of my friends, my family and even some of my clients. I was almost as sick as Walter.

I cut my hand off too, worse than that, in a way. What I cut off was more precious than even my right hand. I cut off the woman I love. Sadly that seems to be a forever thing. If I had to choose between getting my wife back in exchange for losing my right hand it would be an easy choice. I would be forced to develop a left hand jump shot. So here’s the thing, my situation was not unusual in any way. It was the rule, not the exception. There very well may come a time in your life when either your spouse or yourself or another close loved one has their hidden psychological wounds bubble up, come out and then take over. You have probably already been through some of that in your life. It could come in the form of a drinking problem, an affair, depression, not wanting to stay married, sexual addiction, weight gain, anxiety attacks or a thousand other possible issues. It probably won’t come in the form of your spouse chatting with you through a rabbit puppet I would guess. When it happens, and it does for most of us, I assure you that it will feel like your worst nightmare.

So if your marriage and your life does blow up here are five things that you need to know, and you can take these things to the bank, they are true…

#1 This crazy thing no one saw coming is happening for a reason. It is fair. It is an opportunity for you to work on yourself and heal something deep inside you. You are not a victim of this situation. This is the life that you have arranged for yourself.

#2 It is an immutable law of nature that you are exactly as emotionally healthy as your partner is. If they are crazy, you are just as crazy. The truth is that we are all crazy. Crazy is normal. Do not judge your friends and neighbors when their issues blow up - you just might be next.

#3 You will get through this. I know that it feels like you won’t, but you will. You will need the help of an excellent therapist. You will cry a lot of tears. Your marriage may or may not survive the ordeal. In fact, if you do the work that is set before you, you will be happier and healthier in three years then you have been in your entire life. And with the right therapy your marriage can be the best that it has ever been as well.

#4 You will be able to help other people in crisis down the road. You will be able to point the way. I have helped to save many marriages in crisis from addictive behavior since Mr. Relationship Addict took me over almost seven years ago. The pain, the treatment, some great training from Patrick Carnes and the consequences all have given me insights and tools to impact the lives of so many marriages in the midst of a unexpected family damaging explosions pretty similar to what was played out in ‘The Beaver’.

#5 You will live to celebrate life again. In the movie Walter received a new prosthetic hand, lots of physical therapy and the ongoing support of his family. His wife loved him and she fought hard to get him back. The movie ended with the family at an amusement park joyfully riding roller coasters. While I can’t say that I’m joyfully riding life’s roller coasters quite yet, I do have great peace knowing that I did some deep work on myself that had to be done, that I am a man of great integrity, I am very in touch with who I am and what my next right step is, I am a very good father and I am experiencing more and more joy each and every day. I wish the same for you as you look to heal wounds within yourself and in your relationships.

Go see the movie. It really is good.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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