Last night, my husband and I caught up on season 4 of The Mindy Project from episode 11 through the mid-season finale.
As Sam Smith began to sing towards the finale's end, my husband reached for my hand, assuming I was sad. Maybe even crying. He didn't realize that despite looking somber, I was actually rejoicing.
When I was 18, I dated a boy. Everything was perfect: I'd never met someone so sweet and we were surely in love. Three months later, he drove me home from work while giving me the cold shoulder. He didn't say a word until he pulled into my driveway and then he exploded. My "offense"? I did my job.
No, really. I was in college and waiting tables. He showed up shortly after 7 to pick me up from a shift ending at 8 pm. When a table came in at 7:30, my boss assigned the table to me, I waited it, and I was off by 8. Nothing incomprehensible to me.
To him, I was a selfish, horrible, inconsiderate person. How dare I waste his time? I should grovel for his forgiveness. He shouldn't even consider giving me a second chance.
I'm not making any of this up or exaggerating. This was the start of a emotionally abusive relationship. He would frequently react this way if I did anything insane like make a trip to the grocery store or pick up an extra shift at work without calling and telling him first.
What's that? I dared to label the relationship "abuse" when he never violently touched me? Some people will call that exaggeration, and that is where we have a problem. Emotional abuse is real, and it's a devastating problem that can turn a competent, strong, independent woman into a passive, fearful shell of her formal self.
I was that former shell for nearly a year, and I've seen Dr. Mindy Lahiri become that shell throughout season 4. This season has been frustrating; I've wanted to reach through the TV and scream at Dr. L—even though I know she won't listen. Women in this situation rarely do. If they're lucky, they reach a point where they wake up and take the first step towards moving on.
I took that step 11 months into our so-called "relationship". 11 months too late, but better late than never. Seeing Dr. L take her first step in the mid-season finale was both relieving and empowering.
The comment threads on Facebook are filled with devastated fans who just want Mindy and Danny to "work it out," but this is more than just sitting down and having a talk. There are huge personal issues to tackle that may or may not ever be resolved. The romantic in me always loves a happy ending, but this ending, disappointing to some as it may be, is happy to me, and more importantly, could ultimately bring happiness to Mindy Lahiri. Whether or not they reconcile, I'm proud of her decision.
Thank you, Mindy Kaling. Emotionally abusive relationships are everywhere but rarely discussed and almost never represented in the media. Thank you for the truthful presentation of what these relationships are really like, and thank you for making Mindy Lahiri a role model. That's not a word I often use to describe the character, but the best example she can set in this situation is to get out of it. You've encouraged me through this very real writing, and more importantly, I hope you've encouraged other women who haven't yet woken up to do follow in Dr. L's lead.