Posts Tagged ‘Mockingjay’

I have finally finished reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. The final pages of the last book, Mockingjay, inspired the topic of today’s blog entry.

Right now, my child is only 11 years old, so he doesn’t know much about my child abuse history. However, as he grows into an adult, I am not sure how much to share with him. It is natural to want to shield your child from knowing that this level of evil exists in the world, but withholding such a big part of what shaped me into the person I am could keep my child from ever really knowing me.

One of the characters from Mockingjay wrestles with the question:

How can I tell [my children] about that world without frightening them to death?

Her husband responds:

It will be okay. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver.

My question is how you do that.

The character decides:

I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do.

The same character also says:

What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.

Some of the best parts of me exist because I have survived severe trauma. I appreciate kindness and goodness much more than most people because of the dark backdrop of my childhood. Because I know what it is like to live in a world without compassion, I know firsthand that no act of kindness or goodness is wasted. Every single act of kindness matters, no matter how small.

How do I share the best parts of myself with my child while I withhold knowledge of the trauma that created them? How can he ever appreciate my strength without knowing how deeply it has been tested? I don’t know the answers to these questions.

I still have time because my child is young. However, in the blink of an eye, he will be an adult, and I will have to decide how much of my history to share with him. Withholding where I have been feels like withholding myself.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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I have previously shared that I have almost finished reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. I have about 50 pages left to read in the third book, Mockingjay. One of the minor characters is a woman named Johanna Mason, who won one of the previous Hunger Games. She is the tragic character who has both the strength and the weakness of having nobody left to lose.

Johanna makes a comment to Katniss (the lead character) that the one thing she thinks her shrink is right about is that you can never go back to being the person you were before the trauma (in her case, before the Hunger Games). For this reason, she must let go of trying to become that innocent girl again and, instead, find a way to live with being the person she is today.

It’s just a small part of the book, but it was one of the most meaningful conversations for me as a trauma survivor. Because my child abuse started at such a young age, I don’t really have a “before” to go back to, which I guess is a blessing in some respects. I don’t grieve the loss of the innocent girl I was because I don’t remember ever being that person. Still, I do grieve the innocent girl I should have been. I don’t think it’s the same thing, though. I grieve a concept while those whose trauma started later grieve a version of themselves that ceased to exist after the trauma.

I think this dialogue in the book resonated so deeply with me because it is part of the process of “letting go” that I am work through right now. Another thing I need to let go of is any hope of being someone who has never experienced trauma. That ship has sailed and isn’t coming back. It is unrealistic for me to strive to act and react as someone who has never been traumatized acts and reacts.

If I can accept this truth at a heart level, I can let go of my definition of “normal.” I used to tell my therapist that I just want to be a “normal” person. What I meant by this is I want to be like someone who has not endured trauma. That simply is not possible.

This reality does not have to be a “bad” thing. I have many strengths that were honed because I have survived trauma. I need to let go of the labels of “good” or “bad” and, instead, recognize and accept what “is” and “isn’t” without judgment.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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