My Aha Parenting moment this week relates to the movie Coraline. By now, you probably know that the movie is about a young girl who moves into a new house. Her parents, both writers, work at home. They’re on deadline and too busy to pay attention to her, fill the fridge, or help her unpack and set up her room. Bored and irritable, Coraline finds a door into a mirror world with an identical but more attentive Other Mother and Father who lavish affection on her, cook for her, and arrange dazzling entertainments. READ POST
Last weekend, I saw the Jonathan Demme film Rachel Getting Married, which by the way, I loved.
Kym, a recovering addict, leaves rehab where she’s spent the past 9 months, to go home for her sister’s wedding. We soon find out that Kym has been unable to kick her addictions over the past ten years, despite being in and out of rehab. Eventually the reason becomes clear. Ten years ago when Kym was 16 and zonked on drugs, she drove the family car off a bridge. Her little brother died in the accident.
Kym can’t forgive herself. She can’t even live with herself, and she’s spent the past ten years trying to do herself in with her addictions.
At the turning point of the movie, Kym goes to see her mother. She needs her mom’s forgiveness, so that she can begin to forgive herself. It’s almost like she needs permission to go on living.
When Kym says to her mother “You knew I was an addict. Why did you leave him with me?” my visceral reaction, as a mother, was, “She’s right! The whole movie everyone’s been blaming her, but they knew she was an addict. I would be careful about letting my young child be driven by a 16 year old under the best of circumstances. How on earth could this mother have been so irresponsible?”
I’ve always loved Debra Winger, so I assumed that of course her character would step up to the plate, to reassure her daughter, “You’re right. It was my fault. I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been in such in denial about your addiction. Yes, you screwed up, but I did too. And you were only 16. I was the grownup and I didn’t act like it. You shouldn’t have to bear this burden alone.” And then, of course the mother would hug the daughter.
Instead, she snarls, “I didn’t know you’d KILL him. You weren’t supposed to KILL him!” and punches her daughter in the face. Kym punches her back and we see everything we need to know about where her venomous side comes from.
Kym stumbles out of the house and deliberately crashes the car, trying to kill herself but sustaining only bruises. The deepest injuries, of course, are internal.
The next day at the wedding, her mother avoids her. Kym desperately needs her mother’s love and forgiveness, some apology, some responsibility taken by her mother, some closure. If her mother still blames her, beats up on her for this – literally – forgiving herself becomes almost impossible for Kym. Instead, she gets only the most perfunctory goodbye hug. READ POST