Jennifer Garner’s beautiful face is all over newsstands this week, as magazine headlines herald her first candid, post-divorce interview since the demise of her 10-year marriage to Ben Affleck.
I have never been a huge fan, but am reconsidering that stance after being impressed both by what the actress said and what she didn’t say here.
Conducting herself admirably, Jen does not shy away from unavoidable questions regarding the lurid details of the high-profile breakup while still upholding her ex-husband’s privacy and generously acknowledging that he too, is dealing with his shame and pain. She does, however, use the Vanity Fair interview to demystify the fairy tale of her marriage without further sullying what she still considers sacred.
As a celebrity, Jennifer Garner has a platform for spilling her guts to the point of decimating her ex, but she keeps it in check knowing that a tabloid is not the forum to express the depth of her grief and grievances. She speaks her truth, at least a well-controlled portion of it, while still taking the high road – which means choosing to do what’s right even when it’s not the easiest.
I found that out early in the legal process. When filing for divorce, I wanted an opportunity to speak my truth by citing the reason my marriage ended. Not only because it would ensure an expedient judicial process, but because I wanted there to be an honest, God-as-my-witness record of what had transpired. However, I was strongly advised against that by a lawyer who urged me to instead choose a prolonged separation and a “no fault” divorce to spare anyone, especially the children, from ever knowing the full extent of the situation.
Gee whiz, I thought, if a court of law isn’t the place to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – when else would it have a chance to be made known?
The answer, as it turns out, is never. The judge doesn’t want to hear it, your friends don’t want to hear it, your children don’t want to hear it, your ex’s new partner doesn’t want to hear it, and frankly, neither does yours.
As I came to realize, you need to make peace with the fact that the only living person who knows, and will ever know, all of the intimately gory details of your divorce is the person that you’re divorcing. I guess that’s why I found it particularly gratifying when Jen Garner disclosed that Ben is “still the only person who really knows the truth about things. And I’m still the only person that knows some of his truths.”
I read that as a wink-wink to anyone who has ever found themselves walking a tightrope between talking about the truth and taking the high road. Yes, of course there is much more I can say, but I won’t. Oh, but if only you knew.
Perhaps that is enough, then; to simply acknowledge that we live with unspoken truths that are very real, even if we are restricted from ever fully revealing them.
Celebrity or not, we may have more story to tell, but sometimes it’s best if we never do.