Got home from a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, though it was perhaps underwhelming in terms of that huge feeling of gratitude you want to walk away with on this national day of thanks. Turned on the TV with my belly full and watched a tremendous interview of Elizabeth Smart by Dr. Drew Pinsky that filled that lingering void.
Smart just released an autobiographical documentary on A&E (which I've not watched yet but plan to). She sat down to take questions from viewers on Twitter.
If you don't remember Elizabeth Smart, she caught the nation's attention in 2002-2003 after she was kidnapped at age 14 from her home, and held prisoner for nine months by two very evil people who did unspeakable things to her (details need not be mentioned here. She discusses them in the documentary and Q&A). After Smart's younger sister was able to identify the man who broke into their bedroom, her abductors were recognized by people who saw the story on the news and reported them to police.
Smart came home and started the healing process. Awesome!
But as humans who are vulnerable and full of attachment, we probably hold some doubts about people who go through a trauma like that — thinking perhaps that they can never fully recover, even with all kinds of therapy and justice and whatnot.
Smart proves that theory wrong. One can heal and move on, and even make something incredible out of the experience — as she has done.
If you go to the site, you can watch the whole interview. But here's are two quotes from the part, around the 27-minute mark in the 40-minute broadcast, that blew my mind.
Q: Do you grieve for the loss of your happy childhood life?
A: It's fairly mathematical how I look at it. 14 and half years of my life was probably the best childhood any kid could ask for ... then I had nine really crappy months, really terrible months but after those nine months I went back to a loving, supportive, kind family, and so you know, what is it now? I don't know what 30x12 is, but it's a big number. And really only nine months of the 30x12 months that I've been alive have been ... well, those nine months were bad, but the rest of them overall have been pretty great.
Q: Did you forgive your captors and if so, why was it important to bring forgiveness to the process?
A: Yes, for me, if I hold onto my pain, to my anger, what does that do to me? That takes up extra energy, extra emotional energy that would take away from me being able to live my life the way I want to. As I've said, I have a husband, and I have two children. That means I wouldn't be able to love my husband 100 percent, and I wouldn't love my kids 100 percent because part of me would still be taken up with anger and hate so did I forgive them? Yes, was it for them? No I forgive them for me because I cannot carry afford to carry around a grudge for the rest of my life and hold me back from living my life the way I want to.
If someone who faced that kind of horror can build and lead a happy life, what are the chances for the rest of us? Pretty good, I think.