Author Topic: For Our New Members: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance  (Read 48795 times)

Offline Phillip Dampier

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Note from Phillip: This was one of the first messages I wrote on this forum I started back in February of 2006.  It was just a few weeks after I saw the movie for the first time and spent weeks trying to sort through the rollercoaster ride of emotions I was feeling.  Many of you have found your way here for the first time after seeing the film on HBO.  Welcome to the BetterMost family.  All of the things going through my head back last winter prompted me to start this site not just to discuss the film, but also how we, and individuals, can finish the story in our own lives -- how we can use that which you are feeling right now as a catalyst for positive change in your own life.  Only rarely do films have the power to shake us the way this one did.  Please don't let what you are feeling get away from you.  A large number of our members joined this site just as you have, and they are still with us nearly a year later.  We've built new friendships, started new life projects, learned to stop missing opportunities for positive change, and are still having a lot of fun along the way.  We're building a community that will be here for years to come, and we're very happy to have you a part of it!  -- November 30, 2006

Brokeback Mountain is achieving mainstream acceptance and success in bringing two gay characters together in a way that connects with an audience far beyond the usual art house crowd.

For many people, that connection has packed an unexpected and powerful emotional wallop. Having allowed three weeks to pass since visiting Brokeback Mountain has given me some time to reflect on the stages I’ve been going through. If you’re still coping with an emotional overload, perhaps this will help provide some perspective and comfort, or at least bring a smile to your face.

The Five Stages of Brokeback Grief & Acceptance

1. Obsession & Isolation

These go hand and hand and occur most often just after seeing the film. You may find yourself taking a sick day (or more), withdraw from social events and friends, and instead dwell on the movie. That means lots of screen time in front of the computer Googing for as much information you can find about the film and hunting down forums in order to verify you have not just lost your mind. Most commonly heard phrase: “Just leave me alone right now.”

2. Denial: The Answer Isn’t Out There

You have now just spent more time on Brokeback Mountain than the characters did, looking for answers about what in the world is making you run this movie in your head over and over again. You have just watched the same 30 second clip someone posted online for the 10th time, ordered the soundtrack, read the short story, and are starting to write in forums just to make absolutely sure you have not just lost your mind because your mood isn’t getting any better just exploring the movie.

3. Questioning: Maybe The Answer Is Inside Me?

The ticket tearer at your local theater now calls you by your first name. Your friends, who haven’t seen or heard from you in what they call “ages” now greet you with “Dr. Livingston I presume?” The Amber Alert is called off. But now you are driving them crazy by constantly discussing Brokeback Mountain. And no, they don’t want to go to Old Navy with you to try out Denim outerwear.

Except no matter how much you try and make them understand, the truth about Brokeback is that either they “get it” or they don’t. And that’s the problem. you “get it” because you’re “living it.”

4. Realization & Reasoning: Your New Reality

Now you’ve realized what has happened. Something on the big screen has awakened something in yourself. It’s nothing that can be resolved with another viewing, regardless of how happy your local theater is to accept your $8 admission. Something about you has been brought to the surface. It could be your sexuality, your relationships, your accomplishments (or lack thereof), or just a sense that time might be running out for you to avoid the equivalent of My Dinner With Ennis, talking about the “couldas, wouldas, and shouldhas.”

5. The Two Roads: Reinvest in a New Reality or Distract Yourself Until You Can Forget About It

BetterMost is going to work best for people who are opting to reinvest in themselves. You don’t need to sit around and dwell on the negative things on screen reflecting the negative things in your life. The energy you invest in the depression and sadness for the characters is one thing, but do not allow it to earn interest in your own reality.

If there is something in your life that has gone for years without being dealt with, why not take the first step and deal with it starting today. You’ll be joining others who are starting right along with you. You were surprised to discover literally thousands of people just like you feeling many of the same things you’ve felt after Brokeback Mountain. So why not surprise yourself some more and let’s work together to make some positive changes.

The alternative, and I can sense this has begun to happen based on dwindling forum traffic on many sites devoted strictly to the movie itself, is to simply move on and put all of the feelings back in the box.

If you appreciated Annie Proulx’s story, why let that happen?
 
« Last Edit: November 30, 2006, 07:32:43 pm by Phillip »
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Offline BBMGrandma

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2006, 05:13:09 am »
WOW....Philip....you've made my day/week as I read your post.  Lord have Mercy....I started thinking I was going whacko.  Let me introduce a little about myself...
I'm a 67 year old grandma.  I live in the SF bay area <very liberal of course> One of my favorite sayings is...'been there...done that'  I've had a very full and meaningful life and I'm settled quite peacefully in my only little loving world.  And THEN........along came BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN!!!

Every question that I've been asking myself....secretly....waaay down deep under...came CRASHING into my AURA!!!   I could almost hear glass breaking.  It was stunning...to say the very LEAST!!  I felt as though someone had reached down into my gut and was twisting and pulling....almost YANKING!!  It was physically painful. 

I fumbled for my car keys deep down in my purse....walked around in some kind of fog...waondering where I had parked my car.  Tears streaming down my eyes.....tissue covering my nose...my mouth.  Which key opens the door??  I was pathetically unraveled.  I finally found the right key after trying my HOUSE KEY!!   I'd never tried to open my Mustang with a house key....EVER!!! 

Drove home....on an old country road.  I usually "moooo" out my window at the cows.  WHAT COWS?   I've usually got the old AM radio tuned to 'oldies but goodies'  WHAT RADIO??  Total silence and sobbing tears.   

I've been a wreck ever since that first day.  I've ONLY seen the movie three times so far...BUT....I'm sure I'll go back again and again.  Of course I've read the book....it's pages are getting all wrinkly from tears.  I'm TORTURING myself with the CD....over and over again it plays.  I just leave it on repeat now.  I know every word to every song.  I search forum after forum looking for MORE pics and videos of my sweet Ennis and my darling Jack.  Pictures of the two of them....magnets holding em onto the frig. 

My GOD....I realized....that I am Ennis and Jack's...mother that they never had.  I want to wrap a warm blankie around both of them....and keep them safe and secure.  I want to whisper into Ennis' ear and say to him..."Don't be afraid sweetie....it's alright to love.."  I want to brush my hand across Jack's face and assure him that "Ennis loves you honey....he just doesn't understand the love....."   "He doesn't know what to DO with his love for you....."  I want to make hot chocolate for them with marshmellows.....!!  I LOVE these two men....from the bottom of my heart.  whew!!! 

WHY is this goin on?  After reading your post...Philip....I'm closer to understanding.  Thanks youi SOOO much!! 

Here I go again.....crying my eyes out.  If I can see I'll wind this up.  I'll post again as soon as I 'get it together' here. 

BBM Grandma   <night all> 

"If we never dream....we'll never have a dream come true"   (me...myself...and I)

Offline Phillip Dampier

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2006, 12:57:03 am »
WOW....Philip....you've made my day/week as I read your post.  Lord have Mercy....I started thinking I was going whacko.  Let me introduce a little about myself...
I'm a 67 year old grandma.  I live in the SF bay area <very liberal of course> One of my favorite sayings is...'been there...done that'  I've had a very full and meaningful life and I'm settled quite peacefully in my only little loving world.  And THEN........along came BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN!!!

Welcome to the little family of members here.  No you have not gone nuts at all.  It's interesting to see people who are leading content lives also getting torn up by this film.  I confess I have not been super content in my own, and have been exploring a way out of the box I've been in for a year or two.

Quote
Every question that I've been asking myself....secretly....waaay down deep under...came CRASHING into my AURA!!!   I could almost hear glass breaking.  It was stunning...to say the very LEAST!!  I felt as though someone had reached down into my gut and was twisting and pulling....almost YANKING!!  It was physically painful. 

I fumbled for my car keys deep down in my purse....walked around in some kind of fog...waondering where I had parked my car.  Tears streaming down my eyes.....tissue covering my nose...my mouth.  Which key opens the door??  I was pathetically unraveled.  I finally found the right key after trying my HOUSE KEY!!   I'd never tried to open my Mustang with a house key....EVER!!! 

Drove home....on an old country road.  I usually "moooo" out my window at the cows.  WHAT COWS?   I've usually got the old AM radio tuned to 'oldies but goodies'  WHAT RADIO??  Total silence and sobbing tears.

I had my cousin, close friend and partner John with me in the car on the way home.  We were laughing along with Stephanie Miller on a podcast on the way to the movie (she's a liberal talk radio host heard on several liberal talk stations around the States), but that radio didn't go on at all on the way home.  We discussed the movie in fits and starts, and after I dropped my cousin off, it was just John and I and we managed some discussion about the movie along the lines of "are you happy with the way things are."  Well, of course not, but my own fumbling for things would have to wait until the next morning when it all came apart.

My country roads came that Friday on a road trip down to Canandaigua, a small city about 30 minutes from Rochester, NY.  Lots of hills and wide open fields.  Rural living of sorts, and there is the odd cow and horse as well.

Quote
I've been a wreck ever since that first day.  I've ONLY seen the movie three times so far...BUT....I'm sure I'll go back again and again.  Of course I've read the book....it's pages are getting all wrinkly from tears.  I'm TORTURING myself with the CD....over and over again it plays.  I just leave it on repeat now.  I know every word to every song.  I search forum after forum looking for MORE pics and videos of my sweet Ennis and my darling Jack.  Pictures of the two of them....magnets holding em onto the frig. 

My GOD....I realized....that I am Ennis and Jack's...mother that they never had.  I want to wrap a warm blankie around both of them....and keep them safe and secure.  I want to whisper into Ennis' ear and say to him..."Don't be afraid sweetie....it's alright to love.."  I want to brush my hand across Jack's face and assure him that "Ennis loves you honey....he just doesn't understand the love....."   "He doesn't know what to DO with his love for you....."  I want to make hot chocolate for them with marshmellows.....!!  I LOVE these two men....from the bottom of my heart.  whew!!!

I can understand the feelings you are experiencing completely.  I have found that since I started directing my energy into making some changes, such as just launching this site, even though it soaks Brokeback Mountain, it's really stopping the obsession with the movie itself, and in a positive way.  I am now motivated and excited by the possibilities open to me right now.  I realize the characters in the film aren't literally real people, but you and I are, as are the other 25 people who made it here in week one.  So we can actually live the dream of comforting and supporting one another, albeit electronically, and learn from each other.

Perhaps for you, there might be a way of getting involved on a local level in some support group which would actually let you comfort and support people, gay or straight, who don't receive the comfort and support from their own parents.  Maybe that's a way to live the dream in your own life.

I have been kicking around the idea of putting together a collection of music which is true to the theme of the score from the movie.  Gustavo Santaolalla's score would probably qualify as a category within the "new age" music genre, and I've located several artists whose sound isn't far off from his own.  I was spending time listening to some music at Live365 and saw that configuring a legal, online streaming radio service is a possibility, starting at around $12 a month for 25 listeners.  I could probably do something like that if enough people were interested, and load it with a regularly changing selection of music from the soundtrack and music that evokes the western wide open spaces the movie suggests.  I am much more of a "score" man than just hunting down country & western tunes with lyrics that could apply to the movie too, but anything is possible.  The only downside to Live365 is there is a monthly cost, there are ads they insert to intrude on the experience, and you can't have more than three selections from a single album during an hour.

Something for us to discuss here.  If it launches, people play it and hopefully write the kind of profound message you have.   :)  Thanks so much for sharing it here.
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Scott6373

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2006, 04:10:50 pm »
Well Phillip I have made it through the BBM fever.  I survived and even managed to learn a thing or two.  What I haven't heard anyone ever really explain is why people (gay specifically), are so traumatized by this film.  I've hmeard a lot of platitudes, but no real organic reason.

Offline BBMGrandma

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2006, 05:30:49 pm »
Well Phillip I have made it through the BBM fever.  I survived and even managed to learn a thing or two.  What I haven't heard anyone ever really explain is why people (gay specifically), are so traumatized by this film.  I've hmeard a lot of platitudes, but no real organic reason.

Oh Scott...I WISH there were some organic reason for these feelings we're experiencing.  I would think that each of us has their individual demons/joys/questions that we haven't reconciled in our own hearts.  As I look back on my own very heterosexual life...I feel REGRET about  things I haven't done...and happiness at those things I HAVE done...!!

 I've heard so many actors say....about the parts that they have portrayed...that it's never quite "right" in their own eyes.  It may be a MASTERPIECE to the public...but to the actors it's frought with errors and regrets.  Perhaps this gives us a little insight into our own feelings about this story? It is so inundated with parallels to life itself.   I'm not sure but I DO know....it's leading me down a new path and it's going to be a NEW bright path....even at my age.  <67> 

When I first saw this film...I felt despair and such tremendous loss.  It was paralleling the great losses I've had in my own life.  Family....friends...left this earth waaay too soon.  But I stuffed all this way deep down and have always been the 'cheery' one that everyone else called for a 'boost up'.  I've had a tremendous revelation...It just happened last night as I sat here d/l'ing and crying through video after video last night.  I realized that "I" had not reached out to anyone when "I" felt down and sad.  Just kept smilin!!   

It's time I got my 'chit' out on the table and deal with it!!  Thank you Philip....I DO need to wrap that blankie around those who need it and I need to let THEM wrap it around me....when "I" need it!!! 

I've called a good counselor to help me work these things out.  I'm going to stop 'hermiting' and venture back out into the world.  It may be cold and cruel at times....but I think if we dig down deeper we'll all find a TRULY loving world out there.  With people like US around...how can it NOT be...huh?   ;)

See...I even feel like using 'smiley's again!! 

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when life hands us lemons...let's grab the tequila and salt...and PARTY!!

Bye for now.....Nancy

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Offline emjayen

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2006, 09:03:14 pm »
Phillip, you're starting to scare me.  I've been through those first 4 stages, and started on the "distract yourself 'til you can forget about it" part of stage 5.  But I totally want to make the rest of my journey on earth enjoyable, so I choose to "re-invest in a new reality".
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Offline juneaux

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2006, 09:21:39 pm »
This is great~ I wish I'd had known about these stages while I was in the first one!  The last time I saw Brokeback was with my partner on Valentine's Day.  I truly believe holding his hand during the last 20 minutes helped me want to get to "work" on myself ~stage 5.  His first viewing didn't affect him nearly as much as mine did.  (Of course I really didn't expect it to.  I was just thankful that he went.)  I'm just glad that there are others out there that were moved by this movie to the point of obsession and that I can communicate with them.  Thanks, Phillip, for bringing us together. 
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Offline Drew Kerrigan

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2006, 03:49:18 am »
I have a gal pal who 'came out' to me after we watched the film in silverscreen. She asked me if I had doubts then of her being a lesbian and all that and I said: "I never suspected my dear" (honest to goodness!). The good part of this is I wasn't shocked or anything. I was just happy that she confided with me, I really appreciated it. I think only me and her mother (since her hghschool days) knows. This didn't change our friendship. She will remain to be a close friend and I will accept her as she is. :)
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lhundol

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2006, 06:19:41 am »
Hi everybody, Im from the Netherlands so my English writing can be a bit bad sometimes, hope you dont have any problems with that :)

Im defenitly in stage 1, and Im glad that I found this forum! Yes while I was searching on the internet (That means lots of screen time in front of the computer Googing for as much information you can find about the film and hunting down forums in order to verify you have not just lost your mind.) hahahaha! Its the first thing I did when I woke up this morning!

I life in a  town close to Amsterdam, as you all know Amsterdam has a big gayscene. A very close friend of mine came out last year when I just met hem. We go to clubs a lot in Amsterdam ( Im a 18 year old girl and Im not gay). The first thing I did when I left the movie is sent my friend a text message telling him I was thinking about him and that we should be so happy about livving in Holland where gays are so excepted!

After that I went to a bar with a friend who I had seen the movie with, and we were just standing there, being very depressed, rethinking the movie and drinking Martini's on high speed. While everybody else was having fun dancing. Just leave us alone! Thats when we decieded we had to go home early and take some quit time to think about the movie. I had a short night without much sleep!

Hope Ill get to fase 5 very soon!

Offline iristarr

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Re: Brokeback Mountain Stages of Grief & Acceptance
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2006, 04:28:59 am »
Some great posts here, Phillip.  Thanks for being so supportive of my presence on this site.  I'm still floundering about trying to learn how to use all the bells and whistles, but have made contact with BBMGrandma (hey, that's my name too!" and the Ladies Room, and look forward to a long, fruitful, healing relationship here.
Ennis and Jack, the dogs, horses and mules, a thousand ewes and their lambs flowed up the trail like dirty water through the timber and out above the tree line into the great flowering meadows and the endless coursing wind.