Little Red is the symbol for all who were abused in the name of love. Nothing is more sinister than believing we are loved and safe only to be ravaged by a wolf in the fold. Little Red thought Grandma’s house was safe and so did we. It was shocking to find ourselves lied to and abused by the very people who were supposed to love and protect us.
There are many endings to the story of Little Red throughout history and across cultures. In one of the most ancient versions, Little Red didn’t wait to get rescued but took matters into her own hands. She outsmarts Wolf by telling him she needs to go to the outhouse. Wolf allows her to go as long as she keeps a string tied around her finger. Once Red was out of Wolf’s sight, she wisely tied the string to the outhouse door and ran for her life.
I love this quaint version of Little Red because she didn’t suffer as a victim, nor did she require a prince or woodsman to rescue her—she rescued herself. You and I can do that too.
Here are some lessons we can learn from Little Red.
1. Even People You Know Can Be Dangerous
Little Red thought Grandma’s house was safe and so did we. Little Red is the symbol of all who were used and abused in the home and church in the name of love. It was a shock to find ourselves lied to and abused by the very people who were supposed to love and protect us. Nothing is more sinister than believing we are loved and safe only to be ravaged by a wolf in the fold. Nothing is more damaging to the psyche than abuse in the name of love. This is the experience of many who have been abused by narcissistic parents and leaders in the church.
2. It’s Not Your Fault
Like Little Red, we had no control over what our abusers did to us. As we grow wiser, we discover what they did was never about us, but about them. Our abusers have lied, then they claim it never happened. They accuse us of making things up–which is code for they don’t want anyone else to know what they did so they are trying to discredit us and if they could, some would bury us in the woods. No matter how much we love them, we’ll never be able to fix them. This is where we learn to accept the things we cannot change.
3. Trust Your Gut
Something in Little Red’s gut felt wrong, but in her innocence, she couldn’t figure it out what it was until it was too late. How many times do we find ourselves caught off guard only to look back and remember we had a premonition? Learn to trust your gut. If something feels wrong, your senses are warning you. Listen to your body.
4. Use Your Power
This early Little Red Riding Hood was both a feminist and a survivor. She didn’t wait to get rescued by a prince or the woodsman but took matters into her own hands. She outsmarts the Wolf by thinking quickly on her feet. She is a survivor who rescues herself because she knows her boundaries and refuses to be a victim.
The wolf might be howling in anger because he’s been locked up or he might threaten to stalk Little Red again, but he can’t shut up her voice. She has told the world what he’s done and now he has no power over her.
5. Enjoy Your Life
Life is about choices and we can choose to live better lives after narcissistic abuse. We can find safe people to help us thrive along the journey. We can walk away from the drama and enjoy our lives. This is how we change the things we can.
Those flowers Little Red was picking along the path of life are still fragrant as they were before. Huckleberries taste just as sweet. The bluebird of happiness sings as joyfully as she ever did. The sun still shines on our backs and the woods are always beautiful and full of mystery. Love is in the air, so take some time to enjoy life and dream of the possibilities, but always remember to trust your gut.