By: Alyson Peabody, Editor-in-Chief
Last weekend I went to the Saco Drive-In theater to watch a double feature of It by Stephen King. The movie is a remake adaptation of King’s classic horror novel. Those that found Tim Curry’s depiction of Pennywise to be a little campy, shook in their boots at Bill Skarsgard’s disturbing portrayal. For those unfamiliar with the story, I do not want to give anything away. You can read all about it in Movie Talk. Think red balloons, scary clowns and childhood trauma.
Horror films are not something that I enjoy watching because I do not like being scared. Despite this sentiment, I have been wanting to push myself to try new things.
Rather than being scared the whole time, I found myself laughing while my friends were startled by the unrelenting malice of a sewer clown.
The parts that struck me the most were the sober moments when we were shown the depth of the scars left behind by the bullies and dysfunctional relationships in character’s childhoods. The story comments on the power of words and how our greatest fears can be exploited. In this case, they are exploited by an evil entity that disguises itself as a thing of nightmares.
It dawned on me as I drove away from the theater that we all know what those children went through.
We all have a Pennywise.
Trauma, in whatever form that it comes in, continuously shapes who we are and who we become. Emotional distress is a battle that may never end. For me, I have an intense fear of the things that I can not change and for the things that I can not understand.
When I was five years old, a wall-sized mirror gashed my head open. The wound was stapled shut, leaving a scar hidden beneath my hair. This unpredictable incident paled in comparison to when my mother was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was seven. I understood that my mother needed to go to the hospital to get better, but why did she have to shave her hair? My father shaved his head in solidarity. It did not make sense to me, but I knew I was scared. I knew she was scared. My mother fought and won her battle with cancer. Not everyone is that fortunate. Within months of my mother’s diagnosis, my grandmother passed away from breast cancer.
These are my Pennywise.
The lasting trauma from these events, and others that I have chosen to leave out, manifests itself within my inner child. I could not stop that mirror from falling, but I recovered. I could not heal my mother, but she survived her battle. I could not save my grandmother, but she fought for her life.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the presence of strength. In a fight against courage, Pennywise will always lose.