March 27, 2022

What if Lucy had had the BALM?

I don’t know about you but I loved the I Love Lucy show when I was growing up. I remember sitting around the TV laughing at Lucy’s physical comedy routines, Desi’s music and bravado, and Ethel and Fred’s supportive and funny roles. We watched it regularly, and as a child, I had no idea we were watching reruns from a show whose six year live run ended the year I was born!

Recently I had the opportunity to look back on their lifetime of laughter and tears through the eyes of their daughter Lucie, and through video, stories and the words of the people, and often the children, of the people who knew them in the biographical documentary Desi and Lucy.

I knew they were married. I knew they were divorced. I had heard that he cheated on her. What I didn’t know was the role Desi’s drinking may have had on their inability to stay married. Of course there are so many factors in the demise of any marriage: other partners, too much success, workaholism, jealousy, poverty, outgrowing each other, illness, etc.

So this blog isn’t meant to simplify the life of two people in the public eye.

During the show, however, one of the narrators talked about them in a way that rang so many bells, implying that Desi’s drinking was taking over his life. Desi himself said, “Some people can do things part way. I can only do things all the way.” Here he was referring to his drinking, horse betting, working, and everything else he did.

Then they referred to Lucy making things worse with her ‘hard edge’. He would hurt her with his actions and she would hurt him with her words.

That combination of his drinking and tendency to take his activities to the limit and her ability to verbally cut him at the knees made me think of the BALM.

Here were two people who dearly loved each other, yet toward the end of their marriage, they could not bear to be in the same room together without hurtful disparaging remarks flying.

Yet, as soon as they were divorced they were able to bring civility back into their relationship and channel their deep love, which persisted all of their lives, into their professional work together.

What if Lucy had learned to Be A Loving Mirror early on in his drinking (and even in his cheating)?

What if her sharp edges had the chance to smooth out as she went deep within for her peace and learned to lovingly share the facts she was seeing and hearing with her husband?

What if Desi had been able to hear and see a difference in the way she was relating to him so he understood that she didn’t see him as unacceptable?

Love is greater than a use disorder. Yet, time and again, in families all over the world, it seems that the use disorder wins and families die from the inside out.

What will it take for love to win in your family? What would that look like? How can we help?

About the author

Beverly Buncher, MA, PCC, CBFRLC, CTPC, known as the "Foremost Family Recovery Life Coach in the Nation", is the Founder and CEO of Family Recovery Resources, LLC, and the BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Institutes for Family Recovery Coach Training and Family Recovery Education.