“Fairytales do not tell children that dragons exist.
They already know.
Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” –Chesterton
“Ying Ying: All around this house I see the signs. My daughter looks but she does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces. It’s not too late. All my pains, my regrets, I will gather them together. My daughter will hear me calling, even though I’ve said no words. She will climb the stairs to find me. She will be scared because at first her eyes will see nothing. She will feel in her heart this place where she hides her fears. She will know I am waiting like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose.” –Joy Luck Club http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107282/quotes
I will never forget this poignant scene from the movie “Joy Luck Club.” Ying Ying’s daughter acquiesces to a controlling husband who calculates every dime spent in their marriage. He posts a list of expenditures on the refrigerator divided between him and her. Items on the list include ice cream and milk. Their home is pristine, yet cold and clinical like the relationship that exists between them. Ying Ying visits her daughter and reflects. She realizes that her former choices contributed to her daughter’s low self-esteem. She must harness all of her pain and regret to empower her daughter.
I watched “The Joy Luck Club” at a vulnerable time in my life. I was a young single mom freshly divorced from a marriage with an addicted spouse. I needed to heal and rebuild but my fears stalked me in the shadows. My spirit was bound. More heartbreaking than this was the reality that my own daughter’s fate rested upon whether I could break free. I needed to conquer my demons of mind and soul so I could impart courage. I needed to model a different example of what it meant to be a woman.
I wept through this scene in “Joy Luck Club” and promised God and myself that I would do the same as Ying Ying. I would gather my pains and regrets and use them to release my daughter’s spirit so she could make different choices than the ones that ensnared me. I wanted her to become victorious over all that wounded her young soul.
Last weekend, my daughter and I painted masquerade masks. We talked about overcoming as women. I tried to pass on wisdom gleaned from my difficult journey. I shared how I believed that God had a promising life for her. Yet in my heart, I knew that only she could slay her personal dragons.
She painted her mask like a warrior while I painted mine with a theme of love. How interesting, I mused. To truly love others we must first learn to properly care for ourselves. (“Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:39)
I tried to impart more than words. I tried to give her strength of spirit. So many years have passed since the time I watched “The Joy Luck Club.” I’m not the same woman I once was. I am stronger, wiser, and full of faith. I am “…like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose.”