Being Bree – Lessons from “Chesapeake Shores”

Today, I’m Bree – I closed the door on the past, but I hung onto the key. Tonight, I’ll open that door and step right back through, back into a period of four years that still makes my knees shake and my hands grow cold.

We know a bit about what’s coming in tomorrow night’s episode of Chesapeake Shores. After all, Nell told Megan that she needs to read Bree’s book, and Nell is our little fountain of wisdom, isn’t she? It seems perfectly natural that Megan will heed Nell’s advice and settle in with Bree’s manuscript only to rediscover all the hurts and wounds that surrounded her departure from the O’Brien family.

Trace Riley (Jesse Metcalfe) struggles over how to handle The Bridge and being on the road with his band.    PC: Crown Media, LLC 2018

In these past two episodes, many of the characters from Chesapeake Shores have been acting as if those the doors to the past have been shut and locked, as though they have reconciled with the challenges of their youth and are determined to “build something different” instead of trying to rebuild old bridges. Connor warns Trace that he will not go up against his father again. “We’re good,” he says. Are they really? They never did hash out their issues – they just said, “I’m sorry” and kept moving forward. Trace pretends to be enjoying his time on the road, honing his music and building his fan base, but the audience sees the hurt and disappointment on his face as he realizes that pursuing his dream means potentially closing the doors on two others: his live-music venue, The Bridge, where he  and a relationship with Abby and the girls.  Even David’s sister Alex sees what others may not, “My family excels at ‘seeming’ but we are never even close to okay.”

Then we have Bree, our bundle of insecurity who has learned that “sometimes it’s easier being invisible.” When you are invisible, you don’t have to handle the “what now” while dealing with the “what once was.” You just tuck your head inside your shell and plod along, scratching out your little mark on the world without disturbing your personal universe…until you realize that the key to the door you pretended to shut and lock is still hanging around your neck, weighing you down like an albatross. The past has now become the present.

Bree O’Brien (Emilie Ullerup) is all smiles around her family, but her manuscript promises to makes some not-so-friendly waves. PC: Crown Media, LLC 2018

Be it a novel that stems from the recesses of your mind, one that you pretend is not about your family when it really is, a heart-to-heart that should have been, or the imminent 20-year high school reunion that is mere hours away, there is something about opening that door to the past that brings out all of the insecurities you thought you’d outgrown.

Just last week, I sent in my payment for a ticket to my 20-year reunion. It took me three months to decide to attend. Only a handful of my close friends are joining me while the rest of the group will be made up of the people who weren’t part of my personal universe, but who were part of my story. Until last week, until the moment I determined to turn that key in the lock, I was great. I am great. I have a beautiful family, a loving and supportive  husband, a comfortable house in the country, a solid career, and an extended group of family and friends who see me through the day-to-day struggles of being a wife, a mom, a teacher, and woman on a mission to write out her dreams. I have a glorious village and I’m happy.

Then I turned that key, and now I feel like 15-16-17-year-old me. The lanky, skinny girl who was teased about being anorexic (which was so not the case). The awkward teen with translucently white skin who turned red like a tomato when she stepped into the sun. The brainiac who lived on words and books and who would have done almost anything to fit in, but for whom “almost anything” never seemed to work. The one who would then shrug off the “not fitting in” and stick with those 4 true friends who didn’t care about clothes, or make-up, or what it meant to be popular. I remember walking by groups of girls at lunch, imagining they were laughing at me if they happened to giggle as I walked by. Ah, those insecurities wrap around me like a wet wool blanket on a rainy day in February. They make me itch with uncertainty and cough with anxiety.

Why am I putting myself through this? Why did I decide to go? Because, just like Bree needed to find just the right words to tell her story so that she could see the truth and what it meant for her (hence the 8 different drafts), so I need to discover who I am now, in the context of what once was. Maybe if we both face our pasts and whatever insecurities stem from those years, we will be able to not only shut the door and lock it, but we will be able to throw the key into the rushing waters under the new bridges we are building.

So, off I go…

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