Following the news that Elizabeth and John Edwards were finally legally separated, it’s safe to say that she stayed for the kids but is now moving on for herself. Does this make her more of a Saint Elizabeth or Lady MacBeth. Looks like it’s a little bit of both.
According to divorce and blended families expert Jill Brooke, it’s too easy (as many have done), to label Elizabeth Edwards as either victim or shrew — instead she should be viewed as an understandable combination of the two. In a very revealing and bittersweet piece in The Huffington Post today, Jill looks at the course of events that took Elizabeth from devoted wife to her new status as single-mother. She recognizes and highlights the unique circumstances Elizabeth faced, while also revealing the universal factors all mothers might be vulnerable to.
Most notably, Jill takes a stand by saying that yes, Elizabeth recognized that the man she married might be “a monster” but ultimately, in her eyes, he was still the father of her children. It was this single focus that undoubtedly guided many of her actions and choices, misguided as they might seem, throughout the past year. Jill goes further to almost excuse Elizabeth’s bad and at times delusional behavior because of this “protect the children above all else” attitude. She says,
“So Saint Elizabeth struggled and yes, she yelled, she screamed, she berated her husband often in public while trying to preserve their marriage, her life and maybe took out her frustrations on innocent bystanders. She had split personalities as the toxic truths started poisoning her more than the chemo.”
She continues on that this tactic (the screaming and berating and of course the denial) backfired on Elizabeth and was used against her in Andrew Young’s new tell-all book, The Politician, but that ultimately, any protective mother bear might have done the same.
Or would we? No one can really say for sure. Some might argue that to stay was weak (she should have left right away!) but others might see strength — if not for herself, then for her kids, by standing by her man. Some, like Jill, feel genuine sympathy for Elizabeth, where others (beyond her cancer…) think she made her own messy bed and must lie in it.
Where do you stand??