Thursday, May 21, 2015

Character of the Week: Carol from Imperfect and Impeccable

Her own IT company, a beautiful wife, classic muscle car owner, a nice house in the suburbs...Carol Mathers seems to have it all. But does she really?

Carol was an only child. Her mother had complications with her pregnancy, and Carol was born prematurely. As a result, her mother could no longer have children, and Carol had serious medical needs. Both of which were resentments that her mother held against her for her entire life. Their relationship was strained at best.

LouAnne, Carol's Mother, was a rather cold and distant person to begin with. She was a very independent person. Her parents never showed much affection, when she began dating Walter, Carol's father, he opened her up to love and affection. The pain and disappointment from the issues with her pregnancy caused her to close herself right back up again.

Carol's relationship with her father was a completely different story. The two were very close. Her father loved history, so Carol would watch old movies and documentaries with him, they'd read together. They spent as much time together as they could. As Carol said, "He loved me like a daughter, but treated me like a son."

Right before she went off to college, Carol felt it was important to come out to her parents. That was a defining moment in her life.  As to be expected, her mother did not take the news well. Carol's father attempted to mediate between them, but it escalated severely. He finally needed a break because he could no longer see the two women he loved be in such a place of hurt and anger. He went off for a ride on his motorcycle. It was his last ride.

After hearing the news of her husband's death, Carol's mother kicked her out of the house and cut her out of her life completely.

With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Carol decided to immerse herself in her school work. She lived on campus year 'round. She took classes every term, even during the breaks. It was the only way she could survive physically or emotionally.

Coming from a background of such pain, Carol often kept to herself. She was very quiet and studious. She never went out, partied, or did much outside of school. She already felt like such a failure as a human being. It was easier to be alone and not connect with people than to hurt them or get her heart broken again.

Her twenty first birthday brought a lot of change. Her roommate insisted that they go out and celebrate. Marlene, Carol's roommate, was able to wrangle up a good sized group of people, and they all celebrated at one of the local lesbian bars.

While there, Carol literally stumbled upon Alex, a twenty four year old lesbian who was simply there that night to people-watch. Both she and Carol got more than an eye-full. Call it love at first sight, Alex drove Carol home and gave her a celebratory kiss good night.

The couple began dating. Carol was absolutely infatuated with Alex. The relationship blossomed into a wonderful, committed romance.

After Carol graduated, she moved in with Alex. When they pulled in the driveway, Carol was struck by an even greater present: Alex's brother Byron bought Carol's father's 1967 GTO for her. It was such an amazing gesture. For Alex and her family to go out of their way to get something for Carol was a generosity she had never known before. To have the freedom and independence of owning her own car was something new. Most importantly, she had a connection to her father. She had a gift that would remind her of him every time she saw it, every time she drove it. It was a gift of an enormous magnitude.

Carol and Alex were able to create a wonderful life for themselves. They had a strong relationship, they had good friends surrounding them, Alex's family eventually embraced Carol. They even bought a house together. Carol, ever so fearful and doubting of herself, was always waiting for things to disintegrate.

When Carol couldn't seem to fight a cold, she went to her doctor. That was when things fell apart.

Carol learned she had acquired AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion she received as a child. Things were only compounded further when it was discovered that Alex had acquired AIDS from Carol.

Alex and Carol were able to maintain their strong relationship. Alex's brother and sister, her brother especially, struggled tremendously. Bryon, Alex's brother, was livid. His anger towards Carol for getting Alex sick was incredible. Candace, Alex's younger sister, was simply heart broken. Through a lot of time, and a lot of talk, they all remained a close family.

Their lives changed dramatically. Doctor visits, medical needs, even joining a support group all became the new center of their lives. On a positive note, Carol became the owner of her IT company, which was a tremendous blessing for them both.

Ups and downs, life and death, people coming and going were all par for the course for Alex and Carol. One fateful day changed the quiet nature of their lives.

At the bank, Carol and Alex suddenly find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery/hostage situation. Alex gets shot in the crossfire.

Unfortunately, Alex succumbs to her injuries.

Now alone, Carol is unable to go on. Her life is filled with pain and death. She whole-heartedly believes that she is fully responsible for the deaths of her father and Alex. In a severe state of depression and self-loathing, Carol attempts to kill herself.

Impeccable begins where Imperfect leaves off. Carol survives her suicide attempt. Now she is forced to reconcile all the pain of her past.

Through conversations with herself, with her friends and family, the doctors and nurses, and even some letters to Alex, we really get to see Carol in a new light.

Her mother's distance caused her to always feel unwanted, and sub-par. She feels inadequate. In order to keep the people around her happy, she feels she must be a people pleaser. She bought the house for Alex mostly because she felt she she had to compensate for herself.

Carol was also angry. She was furious at God for causing so much pain and heartache. She was livid because the two people she loved the most had died - and quite possibly because of her. She was indignant because she didn't die. She was just angry.

Carol was also still just a very hurt, scared child. She still held onto the old fears and memories of growing up in and out of the hospital. She was afraid of life, afraid of the doctors, afraid of it all. She remembered being alone in the hospital as a child, and that same pain and fear resonated with her in this hospital stay.

Carol was so unsure of herself. She didn't really know who she was. She had no idea how other people viewed her. She didn't know any of her talents because she didn't believe that she had any. More than anything, she needed to discover who and what she was.

Carol Mathers is the vulnerable person inside all of us. Even though our stories may not mimic hers, those same fears and insecurities are universal. By reading her story, and discovering who she is, we are able to discover ourselves.

Favorite quote from Carol: “How do you move on when you’ve killed the love of your life?”

Happy reading!

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