Friday, December 13, 2013

Belief and Love

"We accept the love we think we deserve." -- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"People put you down enough, you start to believe it. The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?" -- Pretty Woman

I watched "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" last night. With my husband and 20 year old son. He was deeply affected by the film the first time he saw it and really wanted us to watch it with him. It is a finely crafted film with impressive performances, most notably Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller as Charlie, Sam, and Patrick, respectively.

If you haven't seen the film or read the book, IMDb summarizes it this way -- 

Based on the novel written by Stephen Chbosky, this is about 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. The introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who welcome him to the real world.

And here's the thing. It's a story about so very much, but it was for me about the reality of the abuse epidemic we have in our society.

My son has grown up with the knowledge that I am an abuse survivor. He knows enough to understand a bit about my struggles, but he knows none of the nitty, gritty details. As my friend says, "He knows the PG version". He wanted us to watch this movie with him, and he knew it would impact me, but he had no idea of the intensity of feelings it would release. As I sat sobbing through the final portions of the movie, at times with my hands pressed over my mouth, as if trying to hold in my own secrets and shame, he kept glancing over at me. When the film ended he turned to my husband and me said, "Did you like it?" And I couldn't speak. My husband told him to give me a moment. As I sat sobbing, my son, who is stingy with hugs and "I love yous", asked if I needed a hug. And I said yes. He held me and rubbed my back and told me he loved me, and he held me some more. I accepted his efforts at consolation, being deeply moved that he has a heart that saw the pain in the movie and the pain in me, and responded to it.

There wasn't much sleep for me last night. I kept replaying certain scenes from the movie. Doing comparative analysis. Scanning images in my head from the movie and from my own experiences. 

Abuse is an enormously damaging thing. It lingers. It dwells below the surface and rears its ugly head at unexpected moments. Charlie gets it. He hears the pain around him. 

Charlie: There is so much pain. And I-I-I don't know how not to notice it.
Dr. Burton: What's hurting you?
Charlie: No, not... not me. It's them! It's... it's everyone. It never stops. Do you understand?

And that is the legacy of abuse. There is no good way not to notice the pain all around us. We must learn to hear and respond, and in responding agree to carry some of the pain in our souls.

To be compassionate witnesses, as my son was for me last night.


  1. I've seen the movie and I completely understand. I am not an abuse survivor, but I, too, sat weeping at the end of it. It was an amazing movie that showed so very well what abuse can do. I feel for you. I am glad your son has such compassion. You did well in raising him.

  2. Strangely enough, often the people I've thought I resonated with the most have been the ones who have betrayed me the worst. I tend to ignore red flags, to my detriment.


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