I keep thinking about The Fighter as a story about family and survival. Survival within family. And without. There is a strange comfort in seeing a true story about people – adults – who find speaking for themselves so difficult in their family’s presence. It is true what Rebecca says, we are all just children masquerading as adults. On the one hand you have this grown man who throws punches for a living. On the other hand, he is at the mercy of his fame and fortune seeking mother and delusional brother.
That is not to say that Dicky Eklund or Alice Ward are villainous. I would say they are perfect examples of why good intentions mean absolutely nothing in comparison to action. That is to say, Dicky and Alice both think they are doing what is best not only for Micky, but their family. His fighting and Dicky’s fighting is not an individual act or career, but something for everyone to benefit from. At least, that is how they see it. And Dicky truly believes he will return to the ring triumphant. Alice thinks she is doing what is best for everyone. And there is a fierce loyalty in the family. Micky’s sisters hate Charlene without meeting her, because she could break the family apart. Dicky’s drug use is ignored, perhaps falling into that state of mental reservation, where it can be pushed aside as long as it does not disturb the carefully maintained balance.
The universe has a way of toppling things, and forcing life to unravel. Sometimes tragically, sometimes mentally, sometimes physically, sometimes for the worst and sometimes for the better. Micky Ward needed to meet Charlene and needed help finding his voice in a family of so many yeasayers. Dicky Eklund needed to go to prison. And Alice Ward needed her children to question her. For me the most poignant disobedience came from Sherri Ward, one of the seven sisters. She spoke up as an ally for Micky and by protesting the others she stood up for herself. Alice threatens Sherri and changes the subject to being owed money by her daughter. She has now lost the gaggle of supporters.
I come from a family with its own culture of support and community and do not ever disobey or disrespect. I come from a tradition of secret keeping and “everything is just fine”. I don’t think adults realize how literal children can take things. And even when they don’t, their imaginations run wild. These traditions and ways of being raised stick. They are hard to break free from. I learned quickly to keep quiet and not question things. As a result, I have lost my voice in so many situations. I barely enter spaces with a voice. I compensate at times by being overly loud and obnoxious. I otherwise spend time avoiding people, canceling plans, hiding,and doing things like dropping out of school … occasionally dropping out of life. I am not sure what I think the harm would be in speaking up or speaking my mind. There is none really. It is just one pattern of many I have difficulty breaking from, and has become more of an issue with age. Maybe people fear aging because the truth keeps revealing itself more and more and it becomes less easy to hide behind immaturity.
Like so many things, and as I have said time and time again in this public space, I am working on finding my voice. I have said that before, but not really in this context. Family can be the most difficult to be honest and open with. For me anyway. I have been recently inspired by one sibling who stood up for me in a way I have never done for my siblings or myself. Here’s to hoping I don’t shut myself out.