Like anyone going through a divorce (and especially someone going through a divorce in the public eye), Jennifer Garner does not have it easy right now. In a recent, lengthy interview in Vanity Fair, Garner gave a blisteringly honest, emotional, and insightful look at her divorce from Ben Affleck, opening up about everything from the rumors that he cheated on her with their family nanny (which he has adamantly denied) to the "shadow" that he can cast. But throughout the emotion of the piece, one fact is undeniable: Garner's strength is evident, particularly through the lens of her divorce from Affleck.
To dig right into it, let's start with this stunner of a paragraph in which the Juno actor calls Affleck the "love of my life:"
I didn’t marry the big fat movie star; I married him. And I would go back and remake that decision. I ran down the beach to him, and I would again. You can't have these three babies and so much of what we had. He’s the love of my life. What am I going to do about that? He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy. I always say, "When his sun shines on you, you feel it." But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.
There is an obvious bravery in being so candid about her marriage, post-split emotions, and description of her ex-husband, and it's a courage that comes from the strength that Garner has found within herself since her divorce.
"She is becoming the person that I could see in her that she almost couldn’t see in herself," her former Alias co-star and close friend, Victor Garber, told the magazine. "Her strength, her fortitude. I think she went from someone that wanted to take care of everybody to be someone who said, ‘In order to do that I have to really take care of myself.'"
And Garner is doing exactly that, engaging in work and activities and her three children and the things that bring her joy. Her statements come from a place of emotional depth, from someone with a fierce, steely resolve, who has been through some hard times and is coming out the other side:
When the earth shakes, you go to what you know from childhood. All of a sudden I’m sitting down at the piano. I went back to church. I sat down and wrote bad poetry all day because I was so sad. I needed a dance class; it reminded me of my fight scenes [in Alias] and how I missed that. I feel the need to be physical and I feel the need to punch someone. You know what I look forward to? I look forward to getting past the pity stage. I look forward to just having a sense of humor.
And perhaps what speaks to her strength the most is her reaction when talking about Affleck's enormous back tattoo of a phoenix rising out of the ashes, which he had inked after their split. "You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart,'" Garner, who originally hails from West Virginia, told the magazine while winking. "A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario? ... I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes."