Monday, May 4, 2009

Heartstrings and Soap Operas

What moves a grown woman to tears?

More specifically, what moves this grown woman to tears?

Not much, not usually.

Hormones? Well, yes, sometimes it’s hormones, RESP commercials, and other random unexpected triggers.

There are moments though when a minor trigger, ie a scene on tv, is like the button which opens the dam: the dam holding back memories and emotions gives way, and this grown woman is moved to tears.

Meredith Grey is a fictional character, a woman surgeon on the tv show Grey’s Anatomy. She was raised by her single parent mother, who was a single parent because she had a major affair when Meredith was a young child, and also Meredith’s mother was a highly successful surgeon. Meredith fended for herself. Abandoned by her father because of her mother’s unfaithfulness; abandoned by her mother to her mother’s workloads. She raised herself, and found in her search for her mother’s approval and a father’s love, a personal drive. And she too becomes a highly successful surgeon, albeit with many emotional handicaps.

In this most recent episode, the Chief of Seattle Grace Hospital and Meredith have an emotional encounter. The Chief, you see, was the man who Meredith’s mother had had an affair with a generation before. When Meredith’s father and mother parted, and the Chief and Meredith’s mother broke up also, Meredith was left in the ditch – left to be raised by a broken hearted mother who turned colder and even more work oriented, and the Chief, the man who the marital breakdown was supposedly for, well, he stuck with his own wife. But I sidetrack. The point was that the Chief in letting Meredith’s mother go, also let Meredith go. He let them go as a “foolish mistake” and he saw how abandoned Meredith was, and he washed his hands of any responsibility to stand up for the little girl who was left to the ditch to raise herself (metaphorically speaking).

Meredith encounters a little girl with a cut on her face, followed by the little girl’s mother repeatedly crying out “she’s sorry! She’s so sorry!” because this little girl had shot her father over 17 times. The girl is quiet until speaking with Meredith, and she asks Meredith “why isn’t my daddy dead? I shot him lots, why isn’t he dead yet?”

The little girl’s mom was a victim of domestic abuse, but the little girl had been lost in the ditch – as everyone pitied the mom, who cared about the little girl?

Meredith did. She confronted the mom, told the mom she could not make the little girl apologize to the abusive man, Meredith told the mom that she had to change the little girl’s story – make changes in their lives while she still had a chance to help her little girl!

Meredith faced trouble from the Chief for this outburst, but it led to the Chief’s acknowledgement to Meredith that he had stood by while Meredith suffered through her own young childhood. He apologized for not standing up for her, like she had stood up for that little girl that day.

“It’s just a tv show.” I know I know.

But what I experienced growing up, that was not a tv show.

So did I cry because I’m so connected to Meredith, so her pain is my pain?

No that’s ridiculous.

But the above depicted scene brought out memories of my own childhood – not so much memories of events, but of feelings. It’s amazing that now, 10, 15, 20 years later, the emotions were so strong that I can still feel the ache in my chest when I revisit them in my heart and mind. There is a certain pain in abandonment which extends through time and like a physical wound which once healed still throbs now & again, the emotional pain even though healed still presses on my heart and reminds me of my life.

It’s hard not to look the other way. Life is busy. I am busy, and I’m not close to as busy as many others I know. It’s time consuming. It’s emotionally draining. I have other priorities. There are so many reasons not to look at the needs of kids who are abandoned.

But are our reasons sufficient?

They aren’t for me, because I know the pain of abandonment, and it is far worse than the inconvenience that paying attention can be.

This stirring in my heart as I watch my silly tv show, it reminds me of how I have come to hold the values I do. With or without having experienced the pain ourselves, I believe we can all contribute within our community to reach out to the abandoned children.

1 comment:

  1. I love the books Captivated and Wild at Heart, by John and Stasi Eldridge. Because they use movies, novels, and tv shows to use as examples of what they are trying to get across. I don't know why, but I like that - even if it is fictional. The emotions are real, and the person who wrote the story, chances are they either experienced those or knew someone who did. I very much identify with Lorelei Gilmore - even though her are rory are a little bit older, I can see some similarities between their situation and ours. Sometimes when I watch it, i just cry..oh well. My life could be alot worse.