I made my family disappear
by Andrea Elizabeth
Did Kevin not have object permanence? My husband recently told me about a study finding that babies actually do have object permanence and do not think things stop existing when they can’t physically sense them. Rather, in Kevin’s psychological state of woundedness, he accepted the suggestion that they had disappeared. Where does this suggestion come from? Abetting circumstances and a rationalized excuse to achieve removal of something felt to be intolerable. Everyone has a breaking point, they say. Kevin was given space to experiment with the consequences of not having a family. He enjoyed it until Christmas came. Then his mother found him. He reverted back to being a child who needed his mother. Maybe it was her previous distraction (aka acting like he didn’t exist) from him that was intolerable. It was her judgment of the family dynamic that hurt him more than the painful things that were happening with everyone else. He got what he wanted when he became all important to her.
The movie portrays Kevin as the most deserving of regard. His brother and his uncle especially are jerks. The other people feel undeservedly good about themselves, but his parents are ok. Their only fault is being destracted from how good Kevin is. And when they’re gone, Kevin further proves his worth in battle. He desperately wants credit for his superiority.
Then there’s also the old man who is estranged from his family who says it’s not worth it. Being alone and superior at Christmas is not worth being freed from self-satisfied inferior people. Kevin did eventually feel a pang at the loss of his brother and cousins, but by the next movie, their abuse makes another separation welcome again.
Let’s say Kevin really is superior, and maybe it’s because he was treated badly that he became a better person. There is something in some people that attracts bad treatment, and then either the person learns to give better than he gets in order to survive, or he goes on a quest of worthiness to try to convince them otherwise.
But this independent quest for worthiness doesn’t usually achieve it’s goal. The abusers are too content with their intimidations to acknowledge ascetic accomplishments. Kevin does get a moment of kudos from his family at the reunion, but that is movie fantasy. At least they take it away again in the sequel.
So what if the family never became impressed with Kevin’s worth? Should he just give in to their estimation of him in order to not spend Christmas alone? Or should he learn to live with their denial of his worth and silently take their abuse? What if both of these options are intolerable? Then he has to run away. He has proven he can survive on his own. Lots of teens run away. Some who dramatically end up living immoral lifestyles. Some get married in desperation for someone to value them.
Is it pride that wants to be valued? Or is it an innate part of being human to want to be thought well of? Buzz didn’t seem to want to be thought well of. Is that just a caricature? Aren’t there those who are good at getting pleasure without the need for approval? They just take the big portions of food without a second thought to who they ran over to get to it. Perhaps Kevin’s pain comes from being more aware of others. I think there are those who are more aware, but they probably aren’t aware that there are others who are also more aware. Selflessness for them comes from finding those other sensitive souls and giving them a little of the acknowledgment they wish they had.
But is that just feeding the beast, and giving into spoiling others by giving them worship due to God alone? If a sweet, quiet person is pained at being ignored, I think their woundedness needs to be healed first before they can work on their own selfishness and narcissism. We read of Anne in Persuasion and we see that she really is just gasping for air, even if it is selfish for her to want to be felt superior. But aren’t the obnoxious people also gasping for air? They are desperate to get what they want too. The difference is they are stronger. But isn’t virtue stronger? It is quieter and easier to drown out. But doesn’t pity only feed the quiet, tiny beast? There is a syndrome where one accepts being put upon, and learns to quietly endure while retreating more into onesself. They build walls around themselves to keep the rejection of others out. I think they invent fantasy characters who appreciate them, or let themselves vicariously enjoy the fantasy scenarios others create. Some are successful in finding happiness in that way. They let themselves give up on real people.