I don't often get personal on my blog - it's a little scary. So I will write this fast before I lose courage, because all my heart cries out to share this truth, though I am almost afraid to believe it.
A terrible fight between loved ones is tearing apart my family, and it's consumed me these past 10 days as I watch the rift grow deeper without any sign of healing.
I'm on the sidelines, loving both sides, seeing both sides, the anger and outrage of both sides. Both sides are right, both sides are wrong. At times I've leaned toward one side, then leaned toward the other. As I learn more about the history behind this disaster, I realize that this fight is the perpetuation of a vicious cycle going back nearly 20 years, and could very well go back even further than that, back generations. "Controversial" is too tame a word for the thing that started this fight, but that was just the spark - underneath there were layers and layers of the dry tinder of pain and pride and defense mechanisms, accumulating over the years.
I can't be specific because I don't believe that airing dirty laundry would benefit anyone. I bet most of us have been through something similar to what my family is going through - different circumstances but surely the same heartbreak. But what's the solution? Once I realized that this is another turn in a long standing vicious cycle, I started straining my poor little brain cells to their capacity to think of a solution.
How do you break a vicious cycle that is rooted in years of pain and hurt and resentment? Where reasoning and counseling and the lie that "time heals everything" have made no headway?
Now you may call me a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, but I'll say the answer lies in a story. A universal theme that I've seen played out in many books - but perhaps most specifically and vividly in A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. It's been around since the 1960's so I'm going to take a risk and mention what happens at the crucial climax of this story of good and evil, light and darkness.
Meg has to rescue her father and her little brother from the clutches of a terribly evil being called IT. Anyone who gets anywhere near this hideous being has their mind consumed by IT. Meg's brother has become IT's slave, and if she gets too close, she'll become IT's slave, too. But Meg figures out how to defeat the consuming evil of IT. It is so controlling that it has no concept of love, and when Meg loves the hateful thing, she confounds IT and is able to free her brother.
I've loved this story and re-read it so many times that I knew somehow it would play a role in my own writing. What I didn't expect is that it would play such a role of hope in my own dark time. I don't know yet if its theme will play a role in the rest of my family - but I hope. Because it's not just a science fiction or a fairy tale. This theme runs through many fairy tales, yes, but I think it does because there's truth to it that we can apply to our own lives. I really do believe that love conquers all.
Vicious cycles that keep wrecking havoc in families are evil, like IT, because they are so destructive. It's not people that are destructive, it's the misunderstandings that consume us and blind us and perpetuate fear and resentment that are like IT and I believe the only way to break them is with love. Even when others lash out in scorn, you just keep loving. Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things.
Does that sound too simplistic?
Perhaps, until you are in the battleground, realizing all the other weapons you've relied on in the past (logic, maybe, or determination) are failing you. Loving unconditionally is the hardest thing in the world. Meg got instant results from her love, that's the science fiction/fantasy part of the story; in real life unconditional love might go for years without seeing any result. It might struggle with the temptation to yell and scream and fight for its rights and its respect or to run away and lick its wounds and vow never to return to get hurt again: but in the end it stays true to its course and just keeps on loving.
I believe this and I am thankful for so many great books and their authors, from A Wrinkle in Time to Harry Potter to Kill A Mockingbird, for not just being books that I read to get through, but books that got through to me with the theme of the strength of love, and gave me hope during a bleak time.