Pathological Relationships in the Media: Harry’s Law ‘After the Lovin’

I was quite appalled on Sunday night after watching the episode, ‘After the Lovin’ on NBC’sHarry’s Law‘. One of the episode’s story lines featured a narcissistic man, Tommy,  who was in a relationship with several women at once and lying to all of them.  When the story line began, one of his girlfriends was suing him.

Tommy, the narcissist, got caught because he had bought several pairs of the same style shoes for his five girlfriends for Valentines‘ Day gifts. As it turned out, two of the women ran into each other and figured out what was going on. In addition, under questioning by counsel, Tommy admitted to telling each of girlfriends at the onset of each relationship that he was impotent and subsequently could only  offer companionship and cuddling.

The plot thickened. Next, Tommy told each girlfriend that her own unique love  had revived his dormant penis, which resulted in each of the relationships becoming sexual.

While telling this story to counsel, Tommy appeared like a slimy jackass. The woman who had brought suit asked him how many other women he had told the same story to and was visually hurt when he told her that he’d been sleeping with four other women at the same time. She then explained how special Tommy had  made her feel, by spinning his lies about her love curing his impotence. I was really hopeful at this point in the narrative that we were going to see a narcissist shamed on national television for lying to and cheating on women.

However, to my utter dismay, the narcissist then turned the tables. Tommy convinced the woman and the lawyers that the only reason he had lied and cheated was because of his own low self esteem. Tommy justified his behavior by painting himself as the poor guy whom all women broke up with. “You would have left me too, ” Tommy told the woman. And then the whole scene changed, with everyone looking sad and sympathetic for the sexual predator. And that’s how it ended! No settlement to the victim, no shaming for the perpetrator!

Shame on you, NBC. With all the public awareness growing about pathological relationships, your writers should have done the right thing and not let this slimebag wriggle off the hook.

I visited the ‘Harry’s Law’ webpage to see what, if anything, was written about the episode. I found a quiz about the episode called “You Be the Judge” and took it.

The quiz consisted of one question about each of the story lines. The one about Tommy’s treatment of the women was, “Tommy deserved to be sued by his scorned lover” (

How infuriating. Tommy didn’t scorn his lover. Tommy systemically lied to and cheated on five women at once, and then was made to look like he was the victim.  What if Tommy was HIV positive or had syphilis and infected all of his lovers? There is nothing funny or socially acceptable about lying to and deceiving multiple sex partners.

Television set for Wikipedia userbox icons, or...

Image via Wikipedia

Maybe we should boycott NBC until their writers revisit this story hold Tommy accountable for his actions.



Crawling into a Hole & Dying (or not)

Shame on you

Image by Έλενα Λαγαρία via Flickr

After the shock, after the month of bargaining and denial, shame took over. Shame is not one of Elisabeth Kubler-Rossstages of grief. How could it be? Kubler-Ross was writing about death and dying when she described the stages. Nor is shame in the Extended Grief Cycle.

Shame is where grief from betrayal branches off from other kinds of grief.

Once I could no longer deny what had happened, once I could no longer pretend that the magic fairies were going to swoop in and fix it, or he was going to have some sort of life changing epiphany, enter a residential drug and alcohol treatment program, and turn the screwed up mess he’d made of my life into the ending of a Hallmark made for tv movie, I was deeply, totally ashamed.

I was ashamed to tell others what had happened. I was ashamed to face my two good friends who had told me never to trust this man again when he’d appeared back in our lives.

I was ashamed to face my seventy five year old father, whom I’d convinced that my lover had his act together and was treating me good this time around. I was ashamed to ask my Dad to come and be with me while my world fell apart in those first days of shock.

I was ashamed that I’d ever trusted him again, that I’d let him hurt me again. I was ashamed that I’d become so intimately involved with him and that he’d hurt me like this. I was ashamed that he’d thought so little of me that he’d just started sleeping with another woman, started dating her, and not even had the kindness, the decency, to let me know in advance, so that I could have saved my pride, at least.

I was ashamed that I’d believed any of his lies.

I was ashamed to tell my teenage sons what had happened. I still haven’t told them. As far as they know, this man I had been dating for two and a half years, their sister’s long lost father, and about whom I had told them so much about why he was so important to me, just dropped off the face of the earth.

I was ashamed, I was mortified, that I’d had a sexual relationship with this liar, with this cheater! I was ashamed that I’d given my entire emotional and sexual self to him, in complete trust.

I was ashamed that I’d been tricked, not only by him, but by this other woman, who apparently knew all about me. They’d both tricked me, they’d both lied to me.

I was ashamed to have my life fall apart, to be that person with her life falling apart, once again.

I was ashamed to find myself ,forty three years old, sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my dining room, because being in my own bedroom triggered too many memories.

I was ashamed to weep myself to sleep every night on this mattress on the floor.

I was ashamed that my sadness would not go away.

I was just so very ashamed, at all the things that must be wrong with me, to be treated like this, with such callous disregard, with such disrespect.

When I was alone at the house last December, I could visualize digging a hole in the back yard and crawling into it and dying. Yes, just like that Marshall Tucker Band song.

I have never been so ashamed in my whole life, and the shame colored me darkly with a purple black hue that I cannot wash off. It filled up my entire being, inside.

I am stained with shame.