Gemma @ 'Accidentally Brave' - the thing about life

What’s it about?

In 2015, Maddie Corman’s husband was arrested on child pornography charges. Accidentally Brave is her one-woman show about what happened next.

My experience.

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I was drawn to Accidentally Brave after reading a disturbing and compelling piece in The New York Times about Maddie’s story and the play it inspired. The headline, “Her Husband Did the Unthinkable. This Is a Play About Everything After” grabbed me. Unthinkable? What did he do? Immediately, my mind took me to very sad and even violent places. Did he cheat on her with her sister or her best friend? Did he have a secret family he was hiding from everyone? Was he physically abusing her and their children? What could be so bad that Maddie would be prompted to write and star in a play about it?

As it turned out, what her husband did really was unthinkable, because I never in my wildest dreams would have guessed the truth. And it’s about as bad as it gets. Maddie received the most brutal, traumatizing shock of her life when she found out that Jace, her husband of 20 years, was in possession of child pornography (featuring a girl as young as 12), and had participated in the sharing of this illegal material. To add insult to injury, since Jace was a television director, the story was covered ALL OVER the media. Suddenly, Maddie and her family’s waking nightmare was broadcast globally.

It is one of those stories that is so horrific that, when I first heard about it, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would react in such a situation. It was nearly unimaginable but still, I tried to envision a future where I fell in love, got married, had three children and then, decades into my marriage, witnessed my husband get arrested for committing sickening acts. I couldn’t imagine I would stay with him after discovering such a thing—even if I loved him, and even if he claimed he never actually touched a child. I doubt I would be able to remain married to the man responsible for betraying my trust in such a major way.

But truthfully, I don’t know what I would do. How could I know unless I found myself in that exact situation? And I pray to God I never do. But whatever I would hypothetically do next, those would all be my choices, and nobody else’s business. As easy as it is for people (myself included) to judge somebody like Maddie for her decisions after her husband’s unspeakable crimes were aired to the world, it’s important to view everything with the proper perspective. I know how lucky I am that nothing so horrible has torn my family apart… yet. That’s the thing about life. In one moment you can be the happiest you’ve ever been, and in the next, you can be thrown into the pit of utter despair and desperation. So as the late, great author Michelle McNamara used to say, “It’s chaos. Be kind.” Odds are that if you had the opportunity to trade your baggage for somebody else’s, you wouldn’t do it.

Accidentally Brave is Maddie’s story—not her children’s, and definitely not her husband’s. She chose not to go into the gruesomeness of what her husband did and what childhood traumas may have contributed to his actions, although she fully understands why people are curious. She even admitted that if the story didn’t concern her family, she would want to know the same details. Instead, she told us how she kept going when her perfect, comfortable life was disrupted in such a public, shameful way. Something disastrous had happened, but it didn’t make her family any less of a family. So she went on, even when she didn’t want to or didn’t think that she could. She had a lot of help from therapists, her personal guardian angel (a famous, sympathetic woman with a raspy voice who is never named), books and God. And Maddie is still not fully okay, but she’s keeping on, despite her struggles.

It might surprise you to know (it certainly threw me for a loop) that Maddie and her husband Jace are still married and living together with their kids in Harlem. After “the incident,” as Maddie refers to it, she and her family had to sell their beloved upstate home, the only home her children had ever known, the one where she had marked their heights on a wall all their lives, and move to Manhattan to rent a smaller, more affordable place. She still wears a ring on her finger, but it is a new ring, one she bought for herself. Maddie is very honest about how imperfect her marriage is, but it’s a marriage nonetheless. And she doesn’t have to justify it.

Maddie married her best friend Jace, whom she loves, even if she sometimes wants to kill him.

Jace did terrible things and is getting help so he never does those things again.

Both statements are true.


I do feel that I should mention that Carrie Bradshaw, aka Sarah Jessica Parker, was in the audience with me. She was only sitting a few rows behind me, and she even posted about the show on Instagram, so I know I’m not crazy.

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