Brock and I are currently re-watching all of the released seasons of Game of Thrones.
We were late to the GOT party, only bingeing on the first 5 seasons just last year. But even though the characters and plots should be fresh in our memories, we realized after recently viewing season 6 that we had significant gaps in our comprehension and analysis of the story.
The initial viewing was a journey of emotion, raw and often impulsive. It provided us with feeling (so much feeling!), but left much to be desired in terms of understanding. The second viewing has been illuminating. The emotional response has nowhere near the intensity that it did in the beginning, but from this perspective, we are now able to make connections that eluded us earlier. It all makes sense now.
After the finale of season one wrapped the other evening, I realized that the process of re-watching Game of Thrones in order to build a complete picture of the story and find understanding of the characters and their motivations was analogous to how I approached processing my own past.
Here are 6 ways that re-watching your past can help you move on:
Re-Watching As an Active Pursuit
If we simply sat inert on the sofa with Game of Thrones playing on the television, we would gain nothing more from the experience. Instead, we are alert as we watch, looking for clues and connections we missed the first time. We utilize the pause button so that we can discuss a theory or a sudden realization. When we’re still confused, we seek help, learning from those who are more experienced. Overall, we benefit from considering other perspectives and opinions as we develop our own.
It’s easy to be passive about your past, allowing mental films to play on repeat. This is ruminating, not processing (learn more about this) and keeps you stuck instead of helping you move on. Instead, be an active participant as you review your marriage and its demise. Focus on making connections and creating understanding. Seek outside viewpoints and guidance, but also realize the importance of adhering to what feels true to you.
Analysis is Easier When All is Revealed
When we first watched Game of Thrones, we had to accept certain actions and decisions by the characters at face value. We didn’t yet understand the history and background that would lead a character towards a certain choice (especially because some of these connections are not revealed until much later). This time through, we’re able to piece together the long-standing conflicts between the families and follow the wrongs that have been committed on all sides. It doesn’t make some of their decisions any more palatable (I had forgotten how gruesome the Stark slaughter is!), but it does provide some insight into their motivations.
When you’re reviewing a marriage after it has ended, you have all of the puzzle pieces you need to create an awareness of the big picture and to propose some plausible motivations for choices and behaviors. If you can find some understanding into why your ex did what they did, it can help soften any residual anger and release any lingering victimhood. Seeing the bigger picture doesn’t excuse poor choices, but it does help to see them a bit differently.
Assumptions Are Often Incorrect
As we watched the first time through, we lost track of many of the details and often took a wrong turn while trying to decipher the tangled branches of the family trees. We made assumptions to fill in the gaps of knowledge and to bridge between story points. We help many of those assumptions through all of the initial viewing. They became our lens for creating understanding. And now many of those conclusions have been challenged and it impacts the way we interpret further information.
The end of a relationship is a fertile breeding ground for assumptions. So much is unknown and so much is felt, that we easily assign erroneous conclusions. Conclusions that then become the basis for any further interpretation. By actively re-watching with an open mind, you can evaluate your early assumptions and decide if they still hold true or if they would benefit from revision.
Nobody is All-Good or All-Bad
I had forgotten how much we hated him in the beginning. One of the characters is a multi-faceted and overall kind man in the latter seasons. But in the first episodes? He comes across as a self-centered and impulsive man. And he was. Until he faced things that forced him to change his ways and broaden his perspective. Throughout the story, we see the weaknesses and strengths of all the characters, even those who are most celebrated or reviled. Some have commendable motivations for horrific acts while others perform valiantly in one venue and are reprehensible in others. Ultimately, there are no “good guys “and “bad guys”. There’s just guys, trying to make it through.
At the end of marriage, especially when your spouse behaved badly, it’s easy to cast them as the “bad guy” and paint yourself as “the good one.” It feels virtuous at first and there’s a comfort to be found in shifting all blame. But eventually, you end up typecast, not as the “good guy,” but as the victim. As you re-watch your past, be alert to signs that your ex had a good side and be aware of your own darker urges and behaviors. Nobody is all-good or all-bad. We’re simply all human.
A Negative Event Can Lead to Positive Outcomes
One of the aspects I love most about Game of Thrones is the strong characters who refuse to be limited by the tragedies that befall them. It’s easy to paint some of these events as negative. And in the short-term, they often are. But then we see the characters learn from the event, challenge their limitations and finally grow stronger than they were initially. As you see a paralyzed child learn to master his mind, it’s no longer clear that the event that caused his injury was detrimental to his life in the long run. And now, watching those early tragedies, there is none of the original sadness, because we see it as a beginning, not as an end.
Our lives aren’t filled with as many plot twists as the series (thank goodness!), but we all expereince events that are easy to qualify as negative because they are unwanted and often injurious in the beginning. Work to slide the “negative” label off the events in your life. Start by striving to see them as neutral, simply what happened. Then, take inspiration from your favorite characters and think about how you can create positive outcomes. How can you make this your beginning?
There Will Always be Some Mysteries
Re-watching has answered many questions. And prompted many more. The writers of Game of Thrones are careful to always withhold some information. They reveal clues rather than announce outright. There is always room for questioning and position-taking. And re-taking. It can be frustrating at times when you just want to know the facts and all you’re getting are hints. Life is no different. There will always be some mysteries, forcing an acceptance of some unknowns and acknowledging the limitations of re-watching.
No matter how many times you revisit your past, there will remain some unanswered questions. There is no benefit to continue to re-watch after you have learned what you can. Work to find an acceptance of the unknowns. You don’t need to know every detail in order to understand the first part of the story and to begin to write the rest.
Just as the events in Game of Thrones unfold in the same way the seond time through, revisiting your past does not change it. That’s not why you re-watch. You view again to see with newly opened eyes, to approach with a less emotional and fearful mind and to gain understanding and acceptance. And once you’ve done that, the past no longer has anything meaningful left to offer and can safely be taken off your mental queue.
After all, there’s always another show:)