Ann Without An E
AnnE with an E was starling, awe-inspiring and marvelously heart capturing to me. The telling of her story brought bridges of understanding and insights with many connections and shared feelings. From experiences of trauma, lack of nurture, rejection downright cruelty and being put in situation beyond normalcy and decency, audiences responded by a thrilling compassion and tender hearted love for AnnE. Her imagination, perception, attitude and thriving recoveries endeared viewers to believe it is possible to be triumphant despite the greatest tragedies. Young at heart, wise in life, fairy-tale like ugly but beautiful AnnE "proves her worth and wit and great intelligence and belong-ability to bring a sense of hope for the most downcast and un-belonging among us.
From "Gracious Heavenly Father" to "... I like imagining better than remembering", to "It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy something if you make up your mind firmly that you will" to "My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes." to "But I am bursting with curiosity" to her quote of ‘‘If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, but your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” — Jane Eyre, I, like many others found ourselves IDENTIFYING with AnnE with An E!
In AnnE, the beauty of a soul that has suffered immensely yet who choses to be whimsical, good natured, thankful, curious, and an imaginative genius, hope comes alive. She finds her way back from despair and near insanity to hope, belonging and joy. She lovingly embraced society's outcasts and broadens her perception of love. An embraced hope and joyful heart bring her to inspirational adventures of the mind, spirit and imagination to bring light to dark hearts, love to hard hearts and aliveness to once dead hopes and dreams. That place in many hearts that gave up on life connects to the possibility that to be happily-ever-after is to be like Anne with an E. O the hope to be happy once again and happy ever after is so alluring and magnetic and possible because it seems so precious and real in AnnE.
On a personal level I connected with AnnE in her knowing about sex much younger than normal and through hearing and seeing and experiencing deeply distressing, disturbing events that brought great fear, confusion, physical injury, damage and emotional woundings in the early foundational years of life. I connected with her in the myriad of triggers or remembrances of these and other horrid moments/memories when I least wanted or expected them. Trying to remake the old memories and not let them have dominance was another connection. I connected with her in feeling like I did not belong and had to earn or prove my worth in order to survive my life. I connected with her in her incessant talking in order to quiet her mind of the chaos others could not see. I connected with her in her being bullied, treated less than, the torment of the gossips and tale-bearing brutality of small town elitists. I connected with her in needing to feel lovable and acceptable when others have rarely if ever truly given love, acceptance and grace. I connected with her in wanting to look and be something she wasn't. I connected with her in wanting to fit into society's fine etiquette of tea time and polite and polished finery to find that I have once again bombed out in the eyes of those watching and grading. I connected with her in the saving of lives and good conscious all because of the sufferings I have survived. I connected with her in the faith and hope found in Psalm 23 prayer intimately prayed in communion with a loved one when a stormy life threatening dark night threaten to undue and overtake and bring destruction. I connected with her in her attempt to make herself more presentable yet it made her less presentable. The confusion of being female but wanting to do and be what males did and were being a plague that brought insult to boys and injury to herself and others. The plight of inexperience and desperation wrought grief and questioning of gender and destiny. Pretending to be a boy to hide the girl scorned brought some unexpected benefits and a recognition of gender differences and samenesses and revelations and awareness of these insights added a mysterious unspoken connection. The desire to protect other outcasts of race and gender and address the bullies and stop them brought another connection. The desire to be smart, attractive, aware and not deceived is another connection. The list goes on. How bout you? What resonated and related to your life situation, your identity and past history?
I felt understood and hopeful, joyful and endeared.
To see a character being so joyful, full of life, happy, honest, hopeful despite life’s hardest harrowing sufferings was thrilling. The telling of this hard story amid heroic and heart capturing scenes was magnificence and she was perfection and felt like a true welcomed kindred spirit.
But then the turning of the tables, of the tide occurred. A line was crossed that was tragic and tore at my core place of security and peace. I realized if I had been born in this generation and in this culture, I too would have gone the way of AnnE with an E. In some ways this is heroic and in one way it is hellish. I do not blame AnnE, her author, her audience or others. I blame myself. Do tell why, is one of my hopes in this sharing of my heart and thoughts.
AnnE’s own experiences taught her people were often unloving and rejecting, cruel and hateful yet she sought love was loving and forgave and chose not to let others define her. Yet she wanted to “belong” and was desiring to find the way. Being herself, freedom to be true to who she was brought the key that opened the door of “belonging”. Staggering hopefulness
Matthew liked her and accepted her and was enthralled with her love for life and the world’s wonders. Unknowingly she in her childlike innocence and vulnerability helped him discover the beauty and thrills of his childhood lost, of awe and wonder. He loved her sharing her descriptive words and perceptions of the world around her and he loved her talks, imagination, and pretending. He loved her and made her his daughter! Being loved and accepted changed her and him and those around them!
AnnE was taught to pray and to follow Christian principles. She came to know and belong to what appeared to be a Christian family life and lifestyle. It stands to reason that anyone like AnnE who first suffered greatly as an outcast but was eventually accepted and loved would want love and acceptance for other outcasts. She did all she could to protect and love the outcasts. She did so well and honorably. She was heroic and her role was perfection in her pursuit of loving well. It was admirable and inspirational love.
Days have gone by since watching most of the second season and I have meditated and languished in my attempts to find words to discuss what has troubled me so in this second season of AnnE with An E. I titled this Ann without an E. My question to myself and my husband is what does the E stand for, not in her name but in my title?
To answer that, it stands to reason that I need to briefly tell my story. Like AnnE I was taught to pray and to follow Christian principles. I came to know and belong to a Christian church and was somewhat accepted more than I had ever really experienced acceptance in my life but my acceptance was not based on them knowing the REAL ME. My past and who I was or had been was NOT KNOWN. Decades of “being known but not known” was not new to me. Some secrets let out only bring more rejection and despair.
In my seeking to be loved and significant, I sought Jesus and came to have a true, intimate relationship with him. Jesus did for me what Matthew did for AnnE, but MUCH MORE. Being known and loved by God changed me completely. But the old me still vied for dominance at times as those old flesh patterns were survival skills that had kept me alive at times unbearable. It has sometimes been a real fight to truly live the truth of my new life and identity In Christ because the rejections and lies were so embedded. But Jesus love and truth has freed and kept me and He showed me it was time to UNMASK and believe in His Love and security enough NOT to let others reactions and rejections undo me.
I told my real story. I let others know about the real me, my real past. It is earth-shattering honesty and the gates of hell seemed after me in the process. Even still, with people I rarely am accepted for being myself and “to belong” has long been mostly out of my reach.
You see, early childhood sexual abuse, occult abuse, fears covered in acting strong, anxiety covered in performance and great sexual and gender confusion brought about the perfect earthquake and tsunami storm for me. It broke my shaky foundation and the waves washed me away. It has taken decades to find let alone put together the missing pieces again.
You see, that quake manifested in a teen same sex relationship. The friendship and my sharing my fear of boys and my hearts conflicts turned too intimate and turned sexual. It felt like one of the best and the second worst experience of my life. I felt truly loved and understood that was the best part. But I felt conflicted, guilty, un-natural and ashamed and that was the second worst part. I went into HIDING, MASKING, an elephant in the room of my heart, life, past, and therefore present, but I refused to deal with it and didn’t know how to move forward successfully.
You see, I was a mess. Fractured at my core, washed away by the waves of despair, my identity as a female far from the shore of my reality. I did not know who I was but I knew what I did not want to be. I jumped off the ship of same sex LQ’s. I couldn’t face myself or my choice. I did not know how to undo what I had done or to be someone different then I had been. Society in the 70’s dictated I was an outcast, a mental case. I felt the sting and felt the tears and tear to my soul too. I knew my parents would be crushed and maybe totally reject and abandon me. I knew I hated myself for what I was and had done.
To college, to make a new life I went. I had to try to start again, fresh and new. I met my now husband of almost 40 years. We fell in love hard and deep. We were engaged but he still did not know the real me. I knew he had to know so I told him. I was so fearful he would reject me but he didn’t. His love for me held and I was more in love and dependent than ever.
Our story is another story for another time. For now, I tell you, we weathered the worst thing that ever happened in my life. If you want to know more, check out the book The Elephant Gospel Unshackled to Live the Secret of Hope.
Fast forward decades. The LORD has had me write my story so others can hear of His goodness and grace. Why or how does this relate to AnnE With An E?
There are so very many with abusive histories. So many that never feel like they belong even in a seemingly normal family. There are so many that hurt and are conflicted about their gender and identity and their sexuality and future of potentially ever being a wife or husband. (Gilbert seems to truly care and want to protect AnnE and yet her fear of marriage based on her childhood exposure to domestic violence and sexual deviance in the home she served at as an orphan perhaps is well played out in her role by her fear and her evading Gilbert’s affections.)
Past experiences can create lies and bring woundings to our souls that can poison our futures and allow us to embrace lifestyles that will further wound and poison us in the long run. This is why I hurt for the second season, I don’t believe it tells the whole sordid story.
If I had been born in this generation and had the same basic story of abuse and insults, hurts and conflicts as AnnE and I share, I would possibly, maybe more than likely, been swayed to embrace homosexuality in my life for the long term. It would have been a mistake for me, a huge missing of my real destiny.
I would have missed marriage to a wonderful man and missed having wonderful children. The gift of being female would not have been realized. The beauty of carrying and giving birth and experiencing the joy of mothering lost! But most importantly, I would have live E- RROR! I would have lived apart from GOD’s PLAN for me as a woman! I would have chosen to disobey God’s Word for morality and marriage!
What of those like me in this generation? Do shows like this bring alternative lifestyles to be attractive, acceptable and alluring? Do we as Christians know WHAT GOD’s TAKE is on all of this? There are so many questions I have been mulling over.
Jesus is a friend of sinners. Yet he does take sin seriously. He died so we could be forgiven for our sins. Would Jesus fully love them right where they are? YES. How would He go about relating to them in a way that brings conviction and yet full love and disclosure?
John 4 and the woman at the well, to me is the answer. ONLY JESUS by HIS SPIRIT and HIS TRUTH can bring outcasts to all out lovers of truth and grace!
In my decades of hiding my past I have heard and experienced in the church such BASHING OF HOMOSEXUALS, such attitudes expressed like they are the worst type sinners in the world undertones. It deeply grieves me. Christians are known often to be homosexual haters and seem yet deniers of their own sinfulness of pride and prejudice and hate in their hearts and lack their own transformation by grace.
Did not Jesus say we are to LOVE one another?
But what does love look like to those in same sex relationships. I know of a Christian teacher and leader that speaks Gospel truths with power and conviction yet when talking to her individually and sharing a part of my story with her as I have in this writing, she firmly and irrevocably said her own sister having been abused by her father, has chosen homosexual lifestyle and she stands by her and will not tell her she is wrong in any way.
My mouth gaped wide. I understood though. Abuse is a game changer to many. Will not the JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH DO RIGHT? Nevertheless His Word is inspired and says that no homosexual will enter in!?
So I speak out. I will chose to be ME and to belong to God and what He says is right and true to the way He made me. I will stand for sexual morality God’s Way and for marriage One Man to One Woman in Covenant Marriage IN CHRIST. That is my destiny.
In my attempt to prove I BELONG with those living and teaching The Real Gospel and get the church to live Gospel love to those with my history or confusion, I have not rested in God’s Sovereignty or His Timing. I now want to be true to my story to prove His Story. SO HELP ME LORD GOD!