Shameless: Being The Other Woman

Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum)

Last night's espoide of Shameless (U.S. TV series drama/Showtime) was a doozy.

For those who've never seen this show, it's a series that follows the dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher (played brilliantly by William H. Macy), a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk, his kids learn to take care of themselves. Frank's alcoholism affects his family in ways you'd expect - but it's his family, and the ways they rally to take care of themselves, that keeps me coming back.

I suppose it reminds me a little of my own childhood.

I was raised in chaos. And I am learning through ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), that the character traits and behaviors I carry with me today are a direct result of that. I've made many messes along my journey to adulthood, so watching Shameless comforts me, in a way. 

Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum), is the eldest of the family. She bears most of the responsibility, and child-rearing falls on her shoulders. She works a few dead-end, minimum wage jobs to bring in money and enjoys going out dancing with her girlfriends.

In last night's eposide, "I'll Light a Candle For You Every Day", we got to see just how much of a downward spiral Fiona can put herself in. Watching the accidental matriarch of the Gallaghers doing all the wrong things - like breaking her own rule and sleeping with a married man - is something that’s a little hard to swallow, but it certainly makes for great television.

After the eposide I sat and wondered: how many people have slept with married partners, and why does anybody do this?

I make no judgements. We all have stories. I just wonder how people let themselves get to that point of feeling less than, by ways of the boudoir.

Or maybe they don't feel less than. Maybe it's exactly the opposite. Perhaps The Other Woman (or man) involves herself with an unavailable person to feel empowered, more in control. Is this possible?

I've been involved with a couple unavailable men in my past, and I have to say for me, it never made me feel anything but small. This is, of course, after the high of me feeling so special they'd risk losing their families for. For me, it was another drug. Another type of high. A way to escape the reality of life, from recognizing I was alone and wanted attention and validation of my worth ("if I can get a married man, I must be something special"). Add to that some serious self-worth issues and you've got yourself a mistress in the making.

My heart went out to Fiona last night. I knew exactly why she slept with her newly reaquianted married-man-friend. I also felt her regret and pain as she crossed the line from flirtation to being a willing participant in adultury. I wanted to hug her and be the the kind of friend to her that my friends were to me - never judgemental, always supoprtive.

In a preview clip for next week's episode, we see Fiona get attacked by the wife of the man she cheated with. A harsh reminder that our choices in life indeed have consequences, and some of them may land you with a black eye.

Sometimes lessons leave a mark.

So let me ask you - do you know of anyone who has slept with an unavailabe person? Why do you think they did? I'd love to hear your story. Anonymous comments welcome.