Thursday, December 24, 2009
Nothing is 'Perfection' in Julie Metz's Widowhood -- Or in Her Marriage, For That Matter
Julie Metz's memoir Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal proves the old adage true: outsiders never know the ins and outs of a relationship. After reading Perfection, it seems that the inverse is also true -- even those partners in the relationship often know little about it.
When Julie Metz's husband passed away in his early forties, she initially went through the normal stages of grief: denial, anger, depression. In the midst of her trying to rebuild her life, develop new relationships, and be a mother to her young daughter, Metz learns that her beloved husband lived a double life. As fictional character Kathryn Lyons did in Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife, Metz slowly begins to unravel the pieces of her life with her husband. The notable difference, of course, is that Lyons never lived, while Metz lived through the reality of such betrayal.
Metz learns that her husband had not one, but several, extramarital affairs. The impact of this realization on her grieving process is irreversible. Metz develops an anger for her husband that goes far beyond normal angry grief for a loved one who has, in a sense, abandoned those left behind. Rather, Metz can barely stand to be in the room with her husband's ashes, she forbids his mistress's daughter to play with her own daughter, and she begins a spiral into an obsessive need to know details of his infidelities.
Theirs was not a marriage of perfection, despite some outsiders' views of it as such. However, the depths of the issues which existed within their marriage flabbergast even Julie Metz, one of two partners within the marriage relationship. Slowly, with the help of her true friends and her family, Metz begins to lead a life of her own for the first time in her adulthood. Perfection proves that we humans never truly know each other's intricacies, but remains hopeful that honesty between us will ultimately prevail.
Perfection debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in June 2009, prompting an interview with Metz in which she revealed some of the few secrets kept under wraps in the book. However, beware of reading the article prior to reading the book, as it contains spoilers.