A key document is a photograph in which she sits with her younger sister when they were 2 and 5 years old. Brown says that her mother “would point to the scowl on my face, comment on how my shoulders leaned away from my sister’s and say, ‘You were always like that.’’
So Brown believed that there was something intrinsically wrong with her. As a victim of her emotionally abusive mother, love was grossly misrepresented. Without intending to become like her mother, she acted out of the dark energy she had been taught.
One day, a man told her otherwise. “I know who you are. And I know you are a good and loving person.” That was news to her. Holding onto the possibility that he might be right, she began making new choices, which expanded her assumptions of who she was.
Years later she picked up that tell tale photograph of herself with her younger sister. This time, she examined it, willing to see the monster she really was. What she saw surprised her. For the first time Brown realized that she might just be squinting into the sunshine; not scowling. And it could be that she was leaning toward someone outside the frame of the picture, perhaps in the direction of her grandmother whom she loved; not moving away from her sister. A new interpretation was possible, one that was at least neutral if not filled with love.
Have you had this kind of experience? I have. As adults, we are free and find ourselves empowered when we reexamine the spoken and unspoken stories we have been told. What role have I been acting out? Am I willing to let undeveloped strengths be tried and tested? How have these excursions into the unknown turned out? And finally, am I willing to continue walking on this new path that is only revealed with each step?