“Maybe its time to let the old ways die.”— Jackson Main
There is a moment in “A Star Is Born” that is almost too painful to watch. In it, deteriorating Country Western singer Jackson Main is watching his wife Ally receive a “Best New Artist” Grammy. Inebriated, he wanders up on stage to join her. Right there on national television, he loses control of his bladder and wets himself, visibly. Imagine the humiliation and pain, the self-loathing not just triggered by something like that, but triggering the action itself. Can you imagine what it would require to screw up that badly? How much rage and fear at Ally’s success that would produce a passive-aggressive nightmare like that? The mixture of love and hate? And what of the aftermath, after you “sober up” and apologize, apologize, apologize. There’s only one problem with apologizing for an alcoholic outburst: it works once. Maybe twice. After that, if you drink you KNOW you are going to screw up again, and you cannot blame the alcohol. You chose diminished capacity. Perhaps it’s a medical problem, but you cannot deny that a problem it is.
Moments like that change everything. And the saddest part? In the midst of her humiliation, what Ally did was try to protect him by covering the wet spot. Love. Pain. Fear. Anger. Success. And…the most horrific public failure, all mingled.
THAT was a moment none of us would want to live through. And one hypnotic to watch.
Let’s overview the film.
Jackson Main is a hard-drinking C&W singer, raised by an abusive, alcoholic father. He wants love, like the rest of us. There is a serious problem: He does not love himself, and all of the adoration of his audience means nothing with the empty space within him. He sees Ally and is blown away by her art, her purity, her goodness. He decides that he will give her the chance of a life-time and lift her up. And we sense that he is hoping that just perhaps, if he can give her the gift she wants — success — she will reciprocate by rescuing his broken heart.
The problem is that the gaping wound in his heart is too large. As her star rises, eclipsing his, her total adoration of him isn’t enough and he begins a self-destructive spiral. Without faith and self-love, he cannot accept the chance that he might damage her career — which is clearly more important to him than their love, as his career was more important than his life. He was a scrambled man, turned inside out, the external world full and the internal world empty.
And this conflict destroys him. Ally, more genuinely tough and integrated (the love of her father is obvious and deep, giving her a foundation) his sacrifice allows her to integrate stardom and artistic integrity. She was a healthy human being. He was not, and the light of her love withered instead of nurtured.
A Soulmate has been defined in many ways, but for the sake of this discussion let’s say this: a soulmate is a person who, when you meet them and are with them, you feel the doorway to your future opening before you. There are so many values, intentions, energetic “frequencies”, mutual attractions and other things contained in this notion. The most important part is that everything is matching up: sexual attraction, emotional connection, values and life direction, mental “vibing” and even a spiritual union.
We all crave this kind of connection, even if some of us don’t believe it is possible, or that we can find it. Some make the mistake of thinking a Soulmate relationship should be some level of perfection where there are never arguments or disagreements, and the Soulmate “knows everything you need before you say it.” That is a grotesquely immature notion, a holdover from pre-verbal infancy, when mommy and daddy knew you needed changing, or a bottle, or a hug, even though you had no words.
Finding a Soulmate is one of the most precious experiences in life, and the first step we can take, even before we meet them, IS TO BECOME HEALTHY HUMAN BEINGS. That’s it. Not complicated at all. Brutally simple. If we don’t…if we aren’t…how can we attract and hold a healthy person? Its hard for a relationship to be healthier than the people within it.
Remember Groucho’s “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me for a member” line?
If we don’t respect and love ourselves, won’t we have to see anyone who loves us as flawed? And if they AREN’T flawed…won’t we fear losing them? It’s an emotional nightmare.
And indeed, Jackson DOES try to tear Ally down at one point, criticizing her looks. She is too strong, retreating from him rather than letting him damage her, and he must apologize. When his life falls apart, had he loved himself, had some sense of faith in his ability to heal, or at least know that Ally was strong enough to make her own decision to love him, and that destroying himself was the LAST thing she would have wanted….he could have healed and grown.
What was the origin of his emptiness? An adored father who treated him as a drinking buddy rather than a son. Damaging his emotions and possibly even his brain chemistry.
Love was right there. Healing was right there. Human connection, in a world where loneliness is said to be a greater killer than obesity or smoking, was RIGHT THERE in his hands, and he couldn’t grasp it, and that is why “A Star Is Born” is a genuinely tragic love story.
It speaks to every wounded heart that wants joy, that calls out for love, and somehow manages to throw it all away. If he had STARTED by loving himself, healing his heart, then when he met Ally, the two of them might have had a chance. But even if they hadn’t…he would have been happy…would have had the chance to meet someone else and the two of them could have been happy together.
The first step is yours: healing your heart. Learning to love yourself. Then, when you don’t NEED the love of another person, you are free to want it, find it, nurture it.
When the lover is ready, the beloved will appear.
If only Jackson had been able to let his “Old Ways” die, indeed.
This holiday season…give yourself life’s greatest gift: the gift of love.
Begin by loving yourself.