This episode was a wonderful blend of laugh out loud funny moments as well as heartbreaking drama, which captures the realities of our lives wherever we are. We cannot help but find sources of humor so that hope continues to thrive but we also need to build our emotional capacities to deal with the difficulties we must face and overcome. This also happens to be a long post as I found many layers worth exploring.
Demir and Selin are at an important junction in their relationship. They have hit the first real rough patch not based on misunderstanding fully manipulated by someone else. Selin, still feeling betrayed and confused about Demir’s past and his methods of dealing with his past, wants some distance between them. In spite of his best efforts to prepare her for this eventuality, Selin is not able to easily internalize all the new things she has learned. She misinterprets Demir’s demeanor with Eylul to believe that he is still angry at Eylul. In her mind, having any such emotion towards Eylul must mean that Demir has unresolved feelings towards her, and as such Selin wants to be out of the way while he gets real closure on his past.
Unfortunately, in her confusion, she really is not thinking clearly and not recalling all the interactions she has witnessed between Demir and Eylul, nor all the interactions Demir had with Selin since Eylul’s arrival and how much he had focused on just being with her and loving her. It wasn’t all driven by the fear of losing her but also by the desire to build something new and beautiful in his life. When Selin had asked, Demir had explained to her that all he felt with Eylul was fear for how his relationship with Selin will get affected, but Selin cannot reign in her imagination. On the one hand she has the poise and resolve to tell Eylul not to make overt efforts to prove a lack of feelings between Demir and herself, but on the other hand she cannot help but be suspicious and annoyed when she sees Demir and Eylul together. Selin’s imagination and uncontrolled emotions have been her own worst enemies in her process of healing.
Much is written about avoidant coping, a maladaptive form of dealing with stress, which can also lead to contradictory behavior. Throughout the series, we have been shown many scenarios of Selin exhibiting avoidant coping mechanisms in different situations. When asked to face the truth about Burak in episode 4, she avoided opening the envelope and slept through her stress. When Demir reached his tipping point in Episode 12, and turned her away from the office, instead of trying to find out why he had reacted in that manner, her body succumbed to a panic attack as a first response.
In this latest plot twist, as she has found out about Demir’s history, she has embarked on yet another maladaptive coping tool by walking away from him, so that she can clear her head. Her process is so self-absorbed that at one point or another, things would have to implode such that she will be forced to reflect more on the part she plays in how their relationship unfolds. As an example, after she arrives at Ayda’s it is only upon hearing from Ayda that Demir was not home does she reach out to him and ask him to go home because otherwise she will be worried and the children need caring. Did it not occur to her to check on him after he left, in an empty car heading back to their empty home? Her empathy meter seems to be so depleted that she is unable to comfort him during this separation she’s forcing upon them. She is able to ignore the depths of sorrows for a man who bared his soul to her only to be rejected. She claims to understand that he loves her, and that this departure will feel like an abandonment, but she does it anyway. Her need to focus on her healing is not wrong; her method is layering more wounds on top of older ones.
Whether she likes it or not, Demir is a leader at the company, and he cannot afford the luxury of sharing his personal troubles with his staff, sometimes even with Selin, leaving him isolated when at work. He needs to have his employees be able to look up to him and respect his decisions. This is why he doesn’t jump into gossiping about Selin when at lunch with Ayda and he will not. He cannot become the specimen under the microscope of office politics where his love for Selin is used as a weakness against him in making professional decisions. While Selin has Ayda and Merve to serve as her bodyguards against the perceived Eylul/ Demir onslaught, Demir is left to fend for himself and still continue to appear to be within himself.
Just as Selin has to deal with seeing Demir and Eylul together at work, Demir has to deal with seeing Selin at work without being able to connect with his love. With greater experience in real heartbreak, Demir is a far better actor on the world stage, and able to create a more believable picture of normalcy. So much so, that perhaps even Selin is fooled and doesn’t realize how deeply affected he his by her decision to walk away. He had repeatedly begged her to stay and fight along with him, but eventually came to a quiet acceptance of her need for space. To view his acceptance as an admission of guilt is one of many missteps from Selin as they navigate the stormy waters of this misunderstanding.
The reality is Demir has been consistent and constant in his love for Selin. The biggest of Selin’s lies that had broken him was the planned game of Demir falling in love with an employee so that he would remove the ban on love at work. It went to the core of their relationship, making him question what she really felt for him. Even with that knowledge and without resolution, he still rushed to her side when she collapsed, and didn’t leave. He put distance between them in the home, but did not move away to Vedat so he could gather his thoughts. That is his strength of character. He wanted to make sure that she really loved him but never truly abandoned her in the process or make her feel that she was abandoned. He made it clear that he was working through his anger and trust issues.
As a parallel to that, Selin made so many promises to never leave the house and at the first real test in the relationship, that is what she does. It is a healthy thing for them to learn that they can survive without each other, but it became an accretive step that contributed to Demir’s final breakdown. Even though he understands that she misses him and is trying to navigate the situation the best she can, he misses her and feels helpless because he cannot do anything to erase his past. He becomes delighted with every chance they have to be together, and reiterates to her how deeply she is loved. At office the next day, she blows hot and cold when it comes to him. Throughout the day she is distant until it becomes time to cajole him into joining the evening’s engagement party. Perhaps the intention was to show her going back to her cute self because she was feeling a moment of pure joy bigger than her resentment, but the exchange seemed self-serving. She could park her confusion about Demir so that they could appear together and make Muharrem/ Leyla happy on their special occasion, but her intent was not to help soothe Demir.
A short sidebar here to appreciate the story arc about Leyla Hanim and Muharrem Bey. What an unlikely love story that upends multiple social stigmas at one go! The scriptwriters have celebrated the ideas that an elderly single lady need not spend her entire life as a spinster and that love is blind to any kind of class difference. A sophisticated Istanbulite who lives in a yali, a mansion in an established neighborhood on the Bosphorus, agrees to marry a handyman, in an occasion that is full of joy and laughter among a group of people who only want love to win in the end. This anecdotal plot line once again contributes to the strength of the script of Her Yerde Sen, and the many ways it has poked holes in the traditional tropes in romantic comedies. Kudos to the writers for taking such unconventional risks!
Coming back to Demir and Selin. During the funny interlude for Ms. Leyla’s engagement party, where Selin lets slip that she had had (unsolicited) suitors in the past, Demir’s response was comical. The kisses they share at the end of his inquisition were full of longing and love, but she doesn’t want to be confused between what her heart is telling her versus what her mind still needs time to process. Again, he steps away to give her the space she demands and tells her that he is not really bothered about her past because he knows that she belongs to him.
All the little examples of how he consistently responds to her erratic choices seem like a calling card for Selin to understand that when faced with choosing between a path that heals them together versus one that is mired in only protecting one’s own interests, it is better to choose the first path. Relationships take a lot of work and, even on days that we become blinded with anger against our partners, we still owe it to ourselves to hold each other’s hands as we work through our issues.
Towards the end of the episode, unbeknownst to Selin, Demir is already upset about the allegations being made about him by Yildirim, Turkan and other customers. Selin only hears that he’s talking to Eylul, but because of the sensitive nature of the conversation, he steps out to the patio, not wanting an employee of the company be privy to upper level management discussions. Unfortunately, this became a trigger for Selin’s anger and she says the most hurtful things to Demir. She landed her first strike when she said that she regrets kissing him the night before and her nail in the coffin comes when she says that he is not doing her any good at this time.
Unfortunately, in any relationship, words matter. Part of the appeal of Demir's character is how measured he is in his choice of words and actions. He is mindful of Selin's feelings at all times, even when his soul is burning, but Selin is yet to have the same level of control over her emotions or tongue. Once the words have been said, they can never be taken back. Many times, couples can move on and continue to build a meaningful relationship, but the scars from the words spoken fade without ever fully disappearing.
With all the little and big ways he felt rejected by her in the last two episodes, coupled with his painful history, Demir decides that he cannot continue to stay and stifle Selin. If she needs so much effort to gather her thoughts around being with him, he feels he cannot be the one who heals her. His words “I open a new wound in you every time I hug you” summarizes his sense of despair. For a boy and young man who has been made to feel that he is not worth staying for, Selin’s words hit the same sore spot and pushed him over the edge. He moves out of the house, leaving a heartfelt letter laced with love, and we are led to imagine that he has gone to Eylul. The episode ends on him sending a text to someone saying that “I’m coming to you”, while Eylul is also shown waiting on someone to come to her door.
I think the last scene is a misdirection by the producers and Demir has finally gone back to his father. A man who worked hard to create an independent life in spite of his parents’ choices, and having felt abandoned by his father for much of his life, the fact that he may choose to go back to him might show how far Demir has fallen. He is feeling wounded beyond repair and his only solace lies in the arms of the man who landed him his first blow. The Demir that will come out of this will be unrecognizable. If we thought he was uptight in the first few episodes, the masks he will don to hide his pain will leave him a shell of the soulful man we have come to love. As both Demir and Selin lose their way and move away from each other, I need to reiterate what I said in an earlier post: they can only heal together. Both need to grow emotionally, but Selin more so than Demir.
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