Remember “Aliens”? Sure you do. Ripley (the great Sigourney Weaver) survived the alien attack on her space tugboat Nostromo, awakening decades later in a new world. When she is asked to lead a group of tough space marines back to the planet where her ship originally made contact, she hates the notion…but must, both to save hapless colonists and stop her own nightmares. The space marines are tough and willing, but overmatched by the ferocious aliens that have overrun the planet, underlead by an inexperienced officer. Ripley, there only as an observer, must take control of the situation to save the lives of the savaged marines, escaping an ambush just in time to see their escape ship blown to pieces.
“Game Over Man! Game Over!”
Trapped in the station waiting for a nuclear reactor to overload and betting all their hopes on the slender chance of getting a second rescue ship from orbit, Ripley leads the survivors in barricading the station, bonding to the single survivor of the initial alien assault: a little girl called Newt who managed to survive by crawling in the air spaces. When the aliens overrun them, and Newt is taken alive, Ripley is pushed beyond terror to descend into the bowels of the station to save the child. She does, but the alien queen follows them into their escape ship as the station blows up behind them.
All seems lost, but at this point Ripley, protecting her comrades and particularly the child she has sworn to save, goes beyond all fear, beyond any ordinary human consideration, becoming the Primal Mother, stepping into the strongest position any human being can come from: “I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to take you with me.” Does anyone doubt that Ripley would have gladly perished, gone out that airlock with the alien queen, if that was what it took to save that little girl? When she said those six words: “Get away from her you BITCH!” the audience cheered as I’ve never seen. She was beaten. Wiped out. Finished. Out of options. All of the “space marines” were defeated or dead, her android torn in half, with no weapons, nothing but her mother’s heart and a ferocious will NOT to survived, but to die dealing death. Few forces can stand up to such courage and power.
She won. Not just her own life, not just defeating the alien queen, but winning the most precious things in the world: the love of a little girl (‘Mommy!”) and the knowledge that, yes…it was safe to dream again.
THAT is a movie. And it works because it connects with a core truth. It isn’t what you fight with, its what you fight for. And she was able to rise to the occasion because she had pure motivation.
She did what I think ALL of us would do, if we understood what was at stake.
I remember talking to a student about a toxic relationship. The guy she was with was just a nightmare of anger and depression, negative habits and needy accusations, flirting with violence. She’d actually had kids with him, and the children were being negatively affected years after the separation. “Why did you marry him?” She fumbled the answer a bit, but finally came back with “he needed love.,” she said. Sure, he had problems, but “troubled people need love too.”
Yes, I said. But they don’t need it from YOU.
I asked a question that has been very valuable over the years: “would you have wanted your DAUGHTER to marry him?” And the vague, unfocused, defensive lok in her eyes disappeared and she came back sharply with “hell no.”
Predictable. Why are we willing to accept for ourselves what we would not want for our children? Because our children hold our hope for the future, our own dreams, rooted in our childhoods, reaching beyond our own lifetimes. We love them with all our hearts.
Would that we loved ourselves the same way. Our bodies and psyches hold a lifetime of scars, are “black bags” of unprocessed emotions, tangled values, confused beliefs and distorted memories. Our CHILDREN are worth the moon…but OUR value is questionable.
But wait…if we make bad relationship choices, don’t those affect our future and present children. Damaging them to continue this cycle on and on? Isn’t this a paradox? We’ll do it for our kids, but can’t do it for ourselves. And in not doing it for ourselves, we lay the burden on our children, creating nightmares for generations to come….
It can stop now. Understanding the pattern gives us a new opportunity to come from love rather than chasing after it. We KNOW how to stop the cycle. All it takes is connecting to the “child” self within us, committing to protect our own hearts, and healing and improving ourselves until we are on the same frequency as the HEALTHY people who are looking for love.
It really is that simple. And if you don’t find them? You are still happy and healthy. It is the ONLY approach that cannot lose, since the end point is and always has been finding joy in this world.
Spend a few minutes daily sitting quietly and visualizing the child you were, making them so young that whatever damage you’ve suffered has yet to hit. See her vulnerability and promise, and commit to protecting her at ALL costs, making her life as wonderful and beautiful as possible. And never letting ANYONE play with her unless they pass your stringent standards. And….disciplining her with love, as well, making sure she takes care of herself: discipline is love. SOMEONE has to be the parent, and she can’t do it. You have to.
Do that…and you become the hero in your own story, capable of slaying dragons….or riding them, if you would. Do this…and you earn your way into the company of other dragon-slayers, dragon-riders. And if you think you could find a worthy partner in such company…
The door is open before you.