If you’ve seen Forrest Gump you remember the scene where Jenny comes back home and faces the house where she suffered so much abuse as a little girl. It is one of my favorite scenes. She starts throwing stones at the house and you wish you could pick one up and throw one with her. Scenes like that are why I love movies.
Abuse holds a family hostage like a sleeping dragon. You never know what may make it stir so you walk quietly around it. Try to stay out of sight. When you are a kid you look to your parents for protection but when they are part of the equation and not the answer you have no where else to go. And when you are told things like “Emotion is useless” “You might as well quit crying because tears are useless too.” You learn early on there is only you. You try to shoulder all that dysfunctional mess yourself. Especially when you know others will get in trouble for trying to help you.
As the next generation of the abuse, you have a choice. You do one of two things, you go along with the charade and perpetuate the culture of negativity by painting a rosy picture that’s false or you get really honest with yourself and start dealing with it, realizing you can be the one to turn the tide. It takes true courage not only to step out of it, but do a 360 and break the pattern yourself. You also have to be ready when the abuser turns around and labels you as the problem.
It starts by replacing denial with the truth and facing some facts about yourself, that’s painful. It’s about stopping the blame on others and beginning to see your part in it. It’s about refusing to go along with all the negativity that breeds like a cesspool. It’s about letting it all go so you can start the healing process and making sure you don’t carry on the legacy. And it’s about recognizing that painting a rosy picture doesn’t change the situation, it only masks it to the outside world.
I think the letting go happens differently for everyone. Sometimes it takes a whole lifetime. Sometimes the final healing doesn’t take place until they die, or go into a place where you can leave the barbs and negativity behind after you walk out the door. It’s then that you realize you have been given back the reins to your own life. It’s much like being born again. And with every load you take out to the curb, you realize your mind is a little bit clearer. Lighter.
This abuse has not been my experience, but it has been played out over and over for many people, some I care about very much including my own Dad. So today, I dedicate this post to all people everywhere who have walked out, who have made a difference, who have been courageous enough to not only do an about-face, but be a light to others who need to get out of that dark tunnel, some of whom by so doing have put themselves in danger.
You died on a Saturday morning. And I had you placed here under our tree. And I had that house of your father’s bulldozed to the ground. Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t. Little Forrest, he’s doing just fine. About to start school again soon. I make his breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I make sure he combs his hair and brushes his teeth every day. Teaching him how to play ping-pong. He’s really good. We fish a lot. And every night, we read a book. He’s so smart, Jenny. You’d be so proud of him. I am. He, uh, wrote a letter, and he says I can’t read it. I’m not supposed to, so I’ll just leave it here for you. Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. I miss you, Jenny. If there’s anything you need, I won’t be far away. Forrest Gump 1994
I dedicate this also to my best friend Elaine, who has not been afraid to stand alone. To lead others out. To make a difference. To start her own legacy of hope. If there is anything you need, I will be happy to stand in for “Forrest” and throw some stones with you.
I have a pretty good aim.