Sandra Bullock & grieving

Sandra Bullock & grieving

Sandra Bullock & grieving

The following is a transcript of Siobhan McFadyen, News Correspondent for Grazia Australia, interviewing Celebrity Life Coach and Human Behavior Expert, Patrick Wanis Ph.D. about actress Sandra Bullock and husband Jesse James and the article from People Magazine revealing Sandra Bullock’s adoption of a boy which she hid from the world for almost 3 months. How is Sandra Bullock handling the scandal surrounding the betrayal and multiple affairs of her husband Jesse James? She has responded with calm, dignity, maturity and forgiveness. But if Sandra was able to hide her adoption, then what else might she be hiding – her real feelings and pain?

Siobhan McFadyen:

Given that her marriage has just broken down in the past four weeks, can you spot the unusual comments or behaviors, or give us some insights into how she might be feeling.

Patrick Wanis PhD:

My first initial reaction is that there are only two possibilities here: either she’s in denial of the real pain she’s feeling, or it’s been a very carefully orchestrated response to protect her image; keeping in mind her image is that she’s America’s Sweetheart; she’s a lady; she’s elegant; she’s sophisticated; she’s classy, she’s dignified; and therefore, she would never show extreme emotion. She would never show any anger, bitterness, resentment, shame, humiliation, condemnation or blame.

But we must look at Sandra Bullock’s response: she seems to have already forgiven Jesse James for the multiple affairs, and although she has filed for divorce, Sandra has hinted at some sort of reconciliation. Sandra Bullock  now describes her relationship with Jesse James as “a bittersweet one, one of new understanding, one of forgiveness, one of support for his recovery.” Sandra also says: “I don’t know how our paths will intersect in the future…The things I hold most dear are the things that could not have happened without Jesse.”

Now, I said that the first possibility was that she’s in denial. There is a six-step process that we all go through when we experience a loss, when we are grieving.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
  6. Hope

So in the first instance, when people experience an extreme loss and they’re beginning the grieving process, they’re usually in denial and shock; they haven’t really faced or felt what’s really happened. I think it’s the case here with Sandra Bullock.

After denial, the first reaction is anger, where suddenly, you feel injured and hurt by what’s happened, and so you lash out. You are open to outburst; you are angry at the person, God or the world. Beneath the anger, of course, is much more pain.

Then there’s bargaining such as saying to yourself, “If I had,” or “If I’d not,” or even praying to God and saying, “Oh, God, please give me another chance,” or “Please come back…give me another chance…it was my fault…I’ll change…”

Next is depression; when you start to feel like there’s no hope, you’re emotionally overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do, and you don’t know how to handle your anger, and you turn your anger inwards.

The next step is when you move through all of that pain and you come to some sort of awareness, some sort of understanding, some sort of wisdom, insight and new perspective; now you’re at the place of acceptance.  Acceptance is accepting what happened, accepting yourself, accepting the person, and learning from the entire experience. Acceptance is about no longer feeling the need to change or try to control the other person or things outside of your control. It’s that point where you no longer obsess – over photos, things, memories, or wondering and searching to find out what this person is currently doing (in the case of a divorce or ended relationship.) Acceptance involves forgiveness.

The final stage is hope; you now have hope for a better future.  Based on the article that I’ve read, Sandra Bullock is speaking with all this wonderful hope.  There is no way she could have gone, from what she experienced, straight to the hope without going through that whole process, and that process doesn’t happen in a month or two.  It can take months.  It can take years.  It can take many years.

I think Sandra Bullock has found a very safe way, right now, to be in a state of denial by throwing herself into giving and expressing love to her new child, Louis.  So in many ways, Louis is actually really good for her right now because Louis offers her a way for her to express love and to express kindness and compassion.  And at the moment, it’s sort of one way to deal with her pain, but I don’t believe she’s gotten in touch with her pain, because no way there has she expressed any emotion other then saying:

“Well, I know it’s my mother Helga who brought this to me because she knows I’m stubborn.  She wants me to learn.  I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I’ve learned a lot about the world.  I learned who I am, and what I’m not.” 

We also need to understand the depth of loss for Sandra Bullock:

The loss of the relationship from Jesse James who promised to “love you, till death do us part;” loss of her confidante, friend, partner in life; the loss of the life she had with Jesse; loss of her sex life; the loss of seeing her kids every day (Jesse James’ children – recall she fought Jesse James’ ex-wife for custody of the daughter); loss of relationship with her in-laws, extended family and friends; loss of public image – shame and humiliation (yes, the public supports Sandra Bullock almost 100 percent, but she will still feel humiliated); loss of work and career (Sandra will still make successful movies but she did cancel her appearance and attendance at a couple of European premieres of her movie “The Blind Side.”)

I also sincerely believe that there are two key points with both Jesse James and Sandra Bullock.  I think Jesse and Sandra really do love each other.  I believe Jesse James loved her, and I know this will shock readers, but I don’t think he believed he was deserving of her.  That’s why he returns to what I’d call his tribe – the heavily tattooed strippers, with very few morals.

And I think at some level, Jesse James was subconsciously sabotaging his relationship.  I don’t think he felt he deserved Sandra.  Look at his last wife, who was a pornographic actress, an adult actress.  Then he goes from her to Sandra Bullock who’s not only just in a different league, but has different morals, different values, different principles, probably, treating him with more respect than what he was used to; they probably didn’t get into shouting and screaming matches.  So I think at some level, Jesse James just didn’t feel he deserved that kind of wonderful relationship.

On Sandra Bullock’s side, I think, too, she was pushing him away.  She mentioned in a Barbara Walters interview – now, I’m not saying she was in any way responsible with this, but I think at some level, she also sabotaged herself – in the sense that she said to Barbara Walters, “I’ve never allowed anyone to love me. I’ve never allowed anyone to protect me,” and Sandra Bullock said that Jesse James accepted her as she is.

Now, maybe she got confused when he was actually saying, “Look, you can be whoever you want, because I’m going to be whoever I want.”  Or maybe he really did accept her and Sandra Bullock has never experienced that before, and she also feels uncomfortable with that. But having said all of that, I think that Sandra Bullock is definitely in denial.  I’m sure that the right people spoke and have helped her to know what to say, plus I think she’s a very intelligent woman.  I think she’s very good at speaking.  I think that she definitely has a big heart, and she has a very kind heart, and she has lots of compassion.

But before you can express compassion, you have to go through the real emotions, and there will be anger.  There will be revenge.  There will be resentment – maybe not revenge, but definitely resentment.  There will be, “Why did this happen?  Was it my fault?  Is there something wrong with me?”  And she’s not expressing any of that.  I also don’t fully believe that a woman is not aware even in a small level of scale that the man is cheating on her. That either means that they didn’t have a very good connection or they didn’t have a deep relationship; they may have loved each other, but they may have not known each other well.

Intuition, the gut feeling is the number one key when someone’s cheating on you. (You can read my article and test “Is your partner cheating – the top ten signs of Cheating” on my blog – https://patrickwanis.com/blog/is-your-partner-cheating-2/ ) A person will kiss you differently. They’ll hold you differently.  Maybe they’ll become more excited sexually towards you if they’re cheating.  So there must be little signals, but again, the number one key is that inside, you feel, you sense that something’s wrong.

Now, also, in the movie industry, actors and actresses will be away from their partner for three to nine months at a time.  And I know Jesse James made a couple of trips to Atlanta for her filming of “The Blind Side,” but she may have been away for a long time, and that may partially account or explain why Sandra Bullock says she had no idea that Jesse was cheating on her. But I do not believe she had no idea at all, because if you do more research into Jesse James, you’ll know that everyone at his workshop knew what he was like, everyone knew that he was having sex on the couch – with various women.

So either Sandra Bullock had the blinders on or wasn’t in touch with him – didn’t have a deep connection.  So, yes, I think that she’s found a way to escape into Louis to avoid her deeper pain.  And at this stage, that’s okay, but she’s going to have to face the real pain, the shame, the humiliation, even the feelings of guilt, thinking that there’s something wrong with her, that maybe she contributed to this, because everyone that’s been cheated on, goes through this.

So I think that might explain how adoption fits into the equation.  You are right.  She does talk about her husband and she plans to reconcile, but really, the way she talks about it is not that she plans to reconcile, but she plans to allow him to play a role as a father for Louis.  She may very well change her mind later on.  She may be doing that now out of her own guilt.  She may be doing that because she wants the public to see that she’s such a kind, loving, forgiving person; this is not to take away from her truly altruistic intentions, because I believe she has a very wonderful heart and a beautiful soul.

But I think she is also again, in a little bit of denial and therefore thinks that he’ll be a great father.  But if he were a great father, he wouldn’t have cheated. The open letter from Jesse James tends to suggest that he’s trying to reconcile and just ask people not to judge her.  I think this is almost like a paradox, in the sense that I believe he’s being truthful, but I also believe he’s doing it for his own public image.

I think he does recognize at some level that he really is the only person to blame, and he’s accountable and responsible.  But I don’t think he’s found a way to actually really express his responsibility and accountability. Crying out and saying “Oh, I’m the victim.  I’m a sex addict.  I’m going to work through this.  I’m going to conquer it,” really is a very, very weak, feeble attempt at being accountable and responsible.  Basically, I think it’s BS.  I personally, as a Human Behavior Expert, do not believe that there is such a thing as sex addiction. The mental health field does not recognize it; the medical field doesn’t recognize it.  Usually, the people that claim such a thing as sex addiction are agents, publicists, and managers, who have something to gain out of it, as well as the clinics that set themselves up so they can charge their clients anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 a month to put them in rehab.  Some people also confuse compulsive behavior with addictions and they are not the same thing.

Again, I really do think Jesse James loved his wife Sandra Bullock.  I don’t think he has really good self-esteem.  I don’t think he believes he deserved her.  I think he went back to the women that he thinks are in his league, and that she’s not in his league.  I don’t think he’s trying to reconcile with her.  I think he’s trying to reconcile with her in the sense of simply getting her to forgive him, maybe allow him to be in her life with Louis, maybe to try and still include her in his life with his kids because no one knows what’s going to happen with those kids, his kids.  I think he’s done the right thing to say not to judge her, because some people will ask, “Well, could he be a hundred percent wrong?  How did she contribute to this?  What role did she play?”

I wonder if Sandra is, in some ways, very naïve, and that’s expressed in her response. She’s a woman that hasn’t raised her own children before. And so, it’s still a growing process, a maturation process.  Sandra Bullock is a woman that, based on what she’s told the media, hasn’t had really long-term, powerful, deep relationships.  And I think for that reason, she’s still very innocent and very naïve. For her to think that he can be back in her life and everything’s simply fine and dandy is definitely denial, bargaining or naiveté. It as if she is almost brushing under the carpet everything – the dirt, the pain and the shame and humiliation. It’s very sort of glib, very flip and very blasé, and that has never been, through my experience with clients, the real response of a woman who’s been publicly betrayed, deceived and humiliated – and on such a grand scale.  I think that there’s a lot more for Sandra to learn and process, but right now I think she’s able to safely lose herself with her child, Louis, and he will prove to be a great comfort for her.

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