Last night I watched the film "Winter's Bone". Though it was painful and bleak, quite brutal even, I thought it was a very accurate allegory of the emotional life of ACoNs. I related so much to the 17 year old character "Ree", who has to look after her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings, with her father gone and hardly any help from anyone around her. To her "having a family", even an extended family that in reality not only amounted to no family at all, but did damage to her as well. And isn't just that the emotional landscape that we ACoNs grow up with? With a mother who is not a mother, a father who is emotionally absent, and having to be the emotional "parent"to your siblings (and sometimes your parents as well) without any help, any guidance or any support.
What is so striking about the film is how all the adults in the film are not adults at all. Most of them are on drugs and unable to be "present" for her or to offer any assistance. All they can give is "scraps". She outshines them all in maturity, common sense and sensibleness. They have nothing to offer her (emotionally) because they are all in such a mess themselves and can't get out, let alone help her. You know how we all grew up hearing about how we should listen to "older ones" because of them having more experience on life? When I was in my late twenties/early thirties I felt that there was no one to go to for answers because they "older" ones seemed to be in a bigger mess (emotionally speaking) that I was, and how could they help me? One of them even said to me: "You're working things out in your thirties that we're only now working out (in our sixties)". When she said that, I thought: "What hope is there for me then, if the ones that are suppose to show me the way, haven't got a clue themselves?"
The adults being on drugs represented to me how all the adults in my FOO (including my extended FOO) were "hooked" on Narcissistic Supply. TR has a brilliant post about how NS is a form of drug addiction (see http://inbadcompanyinc.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/narcissist-supply-one/ ) The kids (I'm including cousins here) don't get a look in because all the attention is going in the direction of the adults. Because of this, the cousins don't develop close connections among themselves either.
Though the film is very raw and certainly not for the faint hearted, I found Ree's character inspiring: her tenacity and determination to push past all the obstacles she faces, and on her own strength; her self-respect in how she refuses to lower herself to their level; her dignity in how she says to her little brother: “Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered.”
I don't know if the film depiction of the people who live in the Ozarks was accurate or not, but as a depiction of the struggles of a teenager to survive among adults who don't know what they're doing, is spot on.