“I didn’t just loose five years on the island. I lost the part of me that enjoyed being alive…listening to music…eating a soufflé with a beautiful girl…the easy things. When you asked me about the island it reminded me of all the hard things and the hard choices that I had to make that still stay with me, make me question who I can trust, and even if I’m worthy of being with anyone.”
This is probably my favorite quote from the show so far. It says a lot of what I feel is true when someone faces a trauma. It was true for me anyway. Losing the little things are what make me so “different” from others now. I don’t like music, parties, hanging out with friends in the way I used to like them. They don’t inspire me or bring great joy to life. They are more like chores…they take work…and yet they are supposed to be “the easy things.” I love that Oliver points this out. “Being alive…listening to music…eating a souffle with a beautiful girl” are supposed to be easy, but he has to spend so much time and effort warding off flashbacks and presenting himself as “a normal person,” who enjoys these things, that it take all the fun out of them. The things themselves are not what is fun for him anymore. His idea of “fun” has changed drastically from what it was before.
Secondly, this quote points out that Oliver is reminded all the time that things are not black and white (anymore). McKenna (the girl he is on the date with) starts firing off questions but none of them have simple answers, none of them are easy to answer, and she doesn’t give him time to even try to respond. McKenna expects a quick and simple answer that she can understand but that just simply isn’t possible.
Thirdly, Oliver is trying to balance his memories, the present day, and figure out how truthful he should be (just like he mentioned to Helena before…”I don’t know how truthful I can be.”) all at once. The fact of the matter is McKenna doesn’t want the whole truth and if she got it she probably couldn’t handle it. Oliver had to make a lot of hard choices and these choices still stay with him. He still questions everything…his past (trying to sort through flashbacks), his present (who he is becoming), who he can trust (because no one else is telling their whole story either and he has learned that some do not have good intentions), who he is (because this has been one HUGE upheaval in identity…he doesn’t even like the same things anymore…he has lost the part of him that…fill in the blank), and even what he is worthy of. What he gained on the island was not gained because he WAS worthy of it…it was gained because of shear effort…because he MADE himself worthy of it…he survived. Survival and love are very disconnected at times. Making choices for survival do not always fit with making choices for love. In love you think and chose carefully. In survival you choose in the instant and out of instinct…not choice. They don’t always fit together very well. (An essay on this: Impossible Decisions)
Yet, through it all, here is Oliver trying to have a “normal” relationship. And this quote is the perfect thing to say. It helps McKenna understand. It gives her information, but only what she is ready to handle. It reveals a lot about where Oliver is at if the listener has the context and experience to interpret it. And it is completely honest. If I could have had a line to give to people when I came back from overseas and from enduring trauma…this would have been it.
The only problem with saying this to others is that they almost always fixate on the last 9 words (“and even if I’m worthy of being with anyone.”) and they loose, or don’t have the ability to see everything else that is being said. They, like McKenna, immediately respond with “of course you are worthy of being loved.” If I were Oliver, my mental response (or response inside my head) would be…”you can’t decide that because you have way, way, way, to little information. You don’t know anything! In reality the opposite of what you say is probably true.”…it’s back to his other quote… “if people knew, if you knew, you’d see me differently, and not as some vigilante guy…as damaged.” because, i think, this is how Oliver sees himself. But even Oliver doesn’t have all the information…he can’t go back and look at his time on the island or time before the island like we (as outside observers with The God Perspective) can do. But…to be fair…fixating on these last 9 words (“and even if I’m worthy of being with anyone.”) works. It results in the “acceptance” interpretation that Oliver needs from McKenna (or that those out of a trauma need from others) and although Oliver knows that it is “incomplete/unknowing acceptance” it provides for a 2nd date, future opportunity, continued discussion where Oliver has the chance to reveal a little more and possibly be accepted then as well, and McKenna has the chance to get more of her questions answered or decide that she doesn’t need to know everything to accept Oliver.