ANNE With An E
Marilla says what so many have said.
“I don’t understand her.”
This Anne is not like the Anne played by Megan Follows. Both characters are the Anne from the book, but the Anne in the recent series is hard to understand…
…unless you are a grown-up.
…unless you have experienced trauma.
Then you understand her, and you feel many things when you watch her. You feel a little sense of vindication.
This Anne has a hidden trauma. She has known domestic violence and bullying. One scene suggests she has known the deception of a predator and has learned to run, really fast.
Emotional flashbacks plague her. She has the kind of flashbacks in which she is taken to the moment in the past, and sees it all again, like she is right there, like it is happening to her again.
But she also has emotional flashbacks. What is that? It is an experience in the present, the now, in which one feels old emotions welling up inside, over the top emotions, but the very emotions one felt in the moment of violation. When bullied. When victimized. When suffering due to control or the misuse of power. And all that old emotion is flung at a person in the present moment. The response doesn’t seem to fit the offense, and others are horrified.
Poor Anne is judged.
She is stuck.
She is in a world where then is now and now is now. And all of it is mixed up.
She pours her sorrows out to Belle, Matthew’s horse, and the horse is a kind of therapy animal. She can receive the words and nuzzle closer. There is no rejection. There is no judgment or misunderstanding. In Anne’s mind, the horse understands – even before Marilla begins to understand.
And thankfully, Marilla does understand in time.
As a victim, Anne knows well the fear of getting too attached if it is going to all disappear. Or if affection will be withheld. Or if opinion will change. Or if others will be affirmed. Or if she will be made the scapegoat.
Anne speaks of things one should not speak about. This Anne is for those of us who are no longer impressionable children. We know this Anne.
Seen too much.
Experienced too much.
Been in seasons of life when we lived out what we knew-but-did-not-understand.
We have felt the same when we didn’t fully understand the Pandora’s Box we opened. We have received punishment. And nobody thought to ask why we talk like we do or act like we have acted.
Nobody stopped to wonder why we would be so foolish as to be caught in such a trap.
This is an Anne we know–even if she is one we worry will be unpredictable and test our resolve to be merciful. We know this Anne, this one we have judged harshly.
We need to consider this Anne, contrary to what some are saying. Don’t let the kids watch it, but for the love of all victims and survivors of trauma, don’t dismiss this Anne.
There is something to her. Her predicament is far more likely than the precocious Anne with a slightly mysterious past and a whole lot of charisma.
It says something about us if we refuse to admit the more likely scenario. This Anne has PTSD, and she is everywhere. She is all around us. One quarter of the women we know have been victims in childhood. Some were victimized as adults.
Before you decide to boycott this Anne, pause. Ask yourself if you have boycotted girls and women like her. Be Matthew. Be Marilla. Go beyond sayng, “I don’t understand her.” Try to understand. To be patient. To let her work though the trauma.
Don’t reserve all your love and pour it out on the Megan Follows kind of Anne.
A bruised reed, he will not break. Isaiah 42:3