Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father

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Whitesnake Moan

He tells her the truth of this episode, which is this: Life is actually much better than this. That movie You Me & Everyone We Know, it has a lot going for it, but my favorite thing in the whole movie is when the shoe salesman sits this lady down and explains that most of us are walking around in shoes that don't fit, but we get used to it, callused and back-pained, because we think that's just how it is. That our pain makes us soldiers and heroes and our problems are no more important or painful than anybody else's problems.

But what nobody ever remembers to tell you is, life is actually much better than that. There's not like a 50/50 balance of suckiness and awesomeness that everybody has to deal with. Things could -- always, actually -- be better. Life is much, much better than that. Find the problem, eliminate the problem. Some of us choose pain because we're lazy, or have complicating factors, or think we deserve it, but the even sadder truth is that most of us choose pain just because this truth is something we forgot.

It's a symptom of our borderline age and culture right now that we think there always has to be a winner and a loser. If somebody is happy, that takes away from our happiness. If somebody has money, that makes our poorness worse. If one person is a victim, that person is also a hero, even if they're just as unhappy and fucked-up as their bully (which inevitably they are) which is not actually admirable at all. This is the secret to the popularity of The Real Housewives, but it's also a reason everybody feels slightly queasy about Eat Pray Love, and it's all bullshit: Stop comparing, start fixing, remember that you're never trapped.

But which part, Fiona asks, is unnecessary here? "The part where my mom splits? Or the part where my dad's a raging alcoholic narcissist?" No, the part where you're addicted to control and think the world will end if you steps outside the house. The part where the solution -- raise five kids -- became the problem, because you let it define you. Because you made other people's problems your only problem, which is now the problem:

"You know when a plane starts going down, and they tell you to put your mask on before helping anyone else? Put your mask on, Fiona!"

Because the answer became the question, because that's how it always works: The answer is only the answer until you find it, at which point it starts rotting. We were designed that way, so we'd keep moving and getting better.

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