Post 405: On RHONJ and RHOC and Forced Forgiveness

I was finally able to catch up on RHONJ and RHOC this week and I noticed a common theme, likely because some part of me was looking for it.

It’s something I’ve noticed before and even written about before, but watching the shows my own feelings seemed to be working themselves out, and I’m hoping writing about it will continue that work.

If you’re not familiar with the cast members of these shows, I will try to fill in the basic information, but this will likely be a boring post for you.

Two things struck me about RHONJ this week.  First, Teresa’s struggle with her husband.  She’s been home from “camp” (jail) for about six weeks, her husband leaves do his time in another four weeks, and they both seem to be struggling.  She was away from her husband and daughters for almost a full year, but she’s back with a best-selling book and she’s clearly determined to put her best foot forward and to be strong for her daughters.  Her husband does not seem to be coping very well as he prepares to leave his family for three years, and that’s one more thing for her to worry about.  Still, she talks about loyalty and talks about him in a loving, understanding, almost gentle way, while admitting she wants her daughters to be smarter than she was (presumably about finances).

All of these things are happening, she’s definitely putting on a brave face, trying to mend broken friendships and relationships with her brother and his wife, and working to sell and promote her book, which I have to imagine is now her family’s main source of income.  And now her cousins want to get involved.  Or pile on, I should probably say.

First let me say, I genuinely like Rosie (as a cast member on a television show that sometimes seems staged).  She’s fun to watch, she’s interesting, complicated, whatever.  Having said that, she and Kathy are way out of line.

They have a fit and feel left out when they’re not invited to Teresa’s New Year’s Eve party and Rosie says some stupid things.  Fine.  Whatever.  She’s drinking, it happens.  But then they talk and talk and talk about it and show up at Teresa’s book signing.  Now again, this is her main source of income for her family.  She’s promoting the book, signing autographs, balancing all of these other things on her shoulders, and her cousins ambush her.

I know what you’re thinking.  “They’re making an effort, I think that’s so nice!”  No they are not.  They could send her a message first, or meet her off-camera.  They could even show up at her house with a cup of coffee.  Instead, they ambush her while she’s working.  Awful.

And I know what else you’re thinking.  Something about forgiveness and moving forward.  Fine.  Great.  You forgive and move forward all you want, but don’t you dare tell someone else they have to do the same.  You don’t know what went on behind closed doors, or how it hurt her and her family.  Forgiveness is great, truly, I believe that, and I am thankful for the times I have received it.  But sometimes, a person can do something or say something that provides a window into their very soul, and sometimes what we see inside is dark and dangerous, and we are smart to turn away from that.  We are brave to turn away from that.  Sometimes “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean anything, and we can only give so many chances, especially when our family, and our ability to provide for our family, is involved.

I’ve seen something similar happen on RHOC this season.  It’s slightly different, because Shannon is a less likable and relatable person, or “character.”  She’s difficult, sometimes petty, and sometimes she seems fake.  But the same idea applies, actually to her and to Meghan.  And, full disclosure, while I have a soft spot for Teresa, I do not feel the same about Shannon or Meghan, and I’ve watched since the beginning, so if I have a soft spot for anyone, it’s probably Vicki.

In this case Vicki did and said some horrible things to both of these women.  Granted, that is not totally out of character for women on this show, but her words and actions were particularly hurtful, and even now, it doesn’t really seem like she’s taken full responsibility for all of it.

In the two most recent episodes Vicki and Tamra are injured in a dune buggy accident. I mean, really.  I don’t even know what to say about that part.  But the injuries are serious enough that Vicki is air-lifted to a hospital near where Shannon and Meghan are vacationing.  Meghan just found out she’s pregnant, they’re golfing and hanging out, and she gets a call from Heather and the new girl, who were also in the car.  Heather makes a joke about opening a beer, but throws in that Vicki is alone and in this hospital, sort of implying that Meghan should go.  They speak on the phone a few times, there is some back and forth, and it turns out Heather and the new girl are about the same distance away from the hospital as Shannon and Meghan, but they insist they can’t go for completely bullshit reasons and continue to push the others to go.

This is why that doesn’t make any sense.  If your dear friend is seriously injured, I mean SERIOUSLY injured, you make the drive.  You hire a car, a helicopter, whatever, especially if you brag about spending six figures on cabinets for your kitchen, you figure it out.  If not, you really don’t have the right to tell another woman who has been emotionally damaged by the physically injured party that she is obligated to take care of her.  That’s just not right.

I can say this, because I probably would have gone to the hospital, or at least truly agonized over the decision.  My first instinct would have been to drop everything and definitely go.  My husband would have encouraged me to stop and think about it.  I would have bitten my lower lip for a while and decided no one should be alone.  Probably.  But maybe not.  I don’t know what went on between them all privately, and their situation is different than mine (I’m not newly pregnant and I have a supportive husband who would share his opinion, but also respect mine).

Here is the thing.  There are people out there who don’t care about how much they hurt other people.  I’m not talking here about people who make honest mistakes.  I’m talking about people who actively try to hurt people, or who are repeatedly reckless and selfish.  Those people absolutely deserve our prayers and to receive professional help to the extent that could be beneficial.  We don’t owe them anything else.

There are other people out there who try to be forgiving, and who are maybe a little bit naive.  The former often take advantage of the latter, and rather than being the victim, which is actually sometimes the easy solution, we have a responsibility to stop that cycle, and rather than feeling guilty about that, we should pat ourselves on the back, give ourselves a hug, take ourselves to lunch, whatever.







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