In the last blog I spent most of the time describing the dynamics of our No More Secrets (NMS) last graduating group. I thought it is important to show how this process of recovery could bring together men of different ages, racial backgrounds and even behaviors to find common ground and recovery. As it says in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book it is not the common problem that unites us but rather the common solution.

Along with the seven new graduates we also had twenty Alumni who showed up to honor their journey. Each of the seven had a sponsor talk about their view of their sponsee’s journey, I also asked the other Alumni to introduce themselves, say how long ago they walked into my office, what their life looked like then and what it looks like now. We had ten men who had been in NMS for over ten years. That kind of testimonial is priceless for the newcomer to hear who may wonder whether this is really for them, even more so in the time of the virus when there are no hugs or fellowship over coffee. That was powerful for sure.

Altogether we had forty-two men in the Zoom room. Truth be told my group room can only hold 33 cramped in like sardines and it doesn’t take long for it to get a little ripe in there, especially at the end of June! So I was glad we were all in the comfort of our homes, zooming. The graduation part of the event took about an hour and a half. It was then when I announced the movie we were going to watch and had everyone switch over to Netflix Party. The movie was Marriage Family.

Marriage Story is a 2019 drama film written, directed, and produced by Noah Baumbach. It stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, with Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta in supporting roles. The film follows a married couple, an actress and a stage director (Johansson and Driver), going through a coast-to-coast divorce.

Charlie Barber is a successful theater director in New York City. His theater company is producing a play that stars his wife Nicole, a former teen film actress. The couple is experiencing marital troubles and sees a mediator, who suggests that they each write down what they like about one another, but Nicole refuses to read hers aloud and they decide to forgo the counseling.

Nicole is offered a starring role in a television pilot in Los Angeles, and she decides to leave the theater company and temporarily live with her mother in West Hollywood, taking the couple’s young son Henry with her. Charlie decides to stay in New York, as the play is in the process of moving to Broadway. Despite the couple agreeing to split amicably and forgo lawyers, Nicole hires a family lawyer.

The movie is a dialog driven with intense up close and personal interactions, very reminiscent of real feuding couples. If you have experienced that or are going through it now it is designed to trigger a lot of emotions. Even for the men who have never been partnered it was at best uncomfortable to watch and might take them back to the family they grew up in. It is the power of the dis/ease that makes this movie a necessary must see. In the end it is emotionally draining. Two hours and seventeen minutes of real drama.

Marriage Story was praised for Baumbach’s screenplay, the performances of Johansson, Driver and Dern, and Randy Newman’s musical score. Among its many accolades, the film received six nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, and many other nominations and awards.

After the movie we came back to a Zoom chat to process the movie. As always it is amazing when many sets of eyes view something at the same time. It truly is the phenomenology of perception. Kind of like what we do in group every week. Many sets of eyes can see blind spots and distortions one can never see. As you are staying safe and, if you have Netflix, take a chance and watch this movie. In the end our eighty-fourth movie night was a huge success.

NMS is still in the group/client helping business. There is a way out from this cunning, baffling, and powerful illness and I can assure you that “I’ll figure it out” is not a sustainable solution. We are here and remember as I always say: misery is optional.

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