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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Worth Watching: Rachel Getting Married

In the early 90's, I taught social work teacher in a small Texas college. I tried to prepare students to get personal with clients by giving them first hand experience in having their psychological closets scrutinized. Seniors were required to do a family genogram (psychological map) of three generations in their family. Each semester before the papers were due, a parade of nervous students came to my office, afraid I would think their family crazy. Leo Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are happy in the same way, whereas unhappy families are all unhappy in their own way. I'm not sure I agree. To nearly a one, families deal with disease, dysfunction or one of a hundred kinds of very real suffering that is part of the human experience.
The award winning Rachel Getting Married is a realistic look at one family's suffering and subsequent (though imperfect) redemption. The haunted and luminous Anne Hathaway plays a junkie home from rehab to see her sister married off. As she jockies to resume her position as the family screw-up, she illustrates how one can be 9 months drug-free and yet far from recovered.
There's no dearth of family-dysfunction pics to be had. What I appreciated about this film was the authentic portrayal of damaged, suffering people doing the best they can, and doing better as they come to consciousness. Unlike typical Hollywood films, the characters here are not good guys or bad guys, but three dimensional beings acting out of their limitations with as much grace as they can muster. Sometimes, like all of us at our worst, not much grace is evident at all.
My theoretical foundation for understanding human behavior is summed up in three words: People are messy. We all hold the capacity for loving and being loved, as well as for wounding and being wounded. When we are acting out, it is usually subconscious and not necessarily related to whoever happened to be nearby at the time. We walk around with our sore spots not even knowing some are there until someone bumps into one or reminds us they exist. That's what therapy is all about-- figuring out why we are stuck repeating our history by understanding it better. We learn to forgive others, and ourselves, for being imperfect and semi-conscious. And as we wake up and learn to tolerate the discomfort we have been running around trying to avoid, we increase our capacity for love.
Rachel Getting Married is now playing at the Darkside in Corvallis. While you are there, grab another dose of wisdom by picking up a copy of owner Paul Turner's fantastic collection of tales and truths, "Prancing Lavender Bunnies".

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