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Manufactuing Memories:

When Love Goes Wrong, Who Controls the Narrative?

There’s been a lot of talk on the news lately about the “forced sale” of some football memorabilia due to a “nasty divorce.” Evocative montages play out across the six o’clock news featuring the glory days of an esteemed footballer at the height of his career. There are lingering shots of glittering medals, slow motion footage capturing moments of breathtaking athleticism, even a quick flash of him and his former partner smiling on the red carpet. 

The mood of these stories is nostalgic and melancholy; a hero cruelly stripped of his hard-earned honours. News reports say the footballer is distraught about being “forced” to part with his prized memorabilia, but what about the memories of his former wife?

While I don’t know the particulars of this situation, nor do I wish to, my understanding is that the footballer left his marriage to pursue a relationship with a new partner. Apparently, his wife, with whom he has two teenage children, was very upset about this. According to some reports, she was even angry.

In the latest news story that flashed up on prime-time news, the couple's multi-million-dollar family home was up for sale, so evidently, they are not short of cash. The implication, therefore, is that this “forced sale” of precious memorabilia is due to the “nastiness” of the divorce. As the footballer was "forced" into this demeaning fire sale, the “nastiness,” therefore, must be attributed to his wife.

There is a lot of trauma when a long-term marriage ends in betrayal, and memories are just another casualty. You no longer enjoy looking back through the family album, you don’t want to visit your favourite places and you don’t want to wear that dress. The once-loved things that used to make you smile now make your skin crawl and your blood curdle, because all of your memories have been poisoned.

The footballer’s wife did not choose to leave her husband for another partner. She did not choose to relinquish her home or brake up her family; the footballer did. Yet in the news he is portrayed as the thwarted main character in the Hero’s Journey and his former wife is cast as the villain of the piece.

Nobody should have to stay in a marriage if they do not wish to, but for the person left behind, there is no choice. At best they get to keep half of what they had.

At least they should be allowed the dignity of telling their story.

At least they should get to keep their memories.

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