Little Red is the symbol
of all who were used and abused
in the home and church
in the name of love.
Skipping along the path of life, Little Red’s heart was full of joy as she whistled with the birds and inhaled the fragrance of the wildflowers. She stopped to add a few lupines to her basket so she could share them with others. She knew Grandma would be excited to get some of her homemade bread and jam, but she had no idea of the tragedy that was about to befall her.
Little Red naively trusted grandmother (despite her wolf-like behavior) because Little Red assumed all parents and grandparents were safe. This is the experience of many who have been abused by narcissistic parents and leaders in the church. Something in her gut felt wrong, but in her innocence Red couldn’t figure it out what it was until it was too late.
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. Nothing is more damaging to the psyche than abuse in the name of love.
There are many endings to the story of Little Red throughout history and across cultures. Some say she was rescued by the woodsman. Others say she and grandmother were both eaten by the wolf, but then survived after his stomach was cut open. One of the oldest versions of this story says Little Red did not wait to get rescued, but took matters into her own hands.
In this most ancient version, Little Red 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, not did she require a prince or woodsman to rescue her–she rescued herself. You and I can do that too.
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. 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.
Those flowers that Little Red was picking along the path of life are still fragrant. The birds are still singing. The sun is still warm and the woods are still exhilarating and full of mystery. Life is about choices and we can choose to live better lives after narcissistic abuse. We can find safe people to help us enjoy the journey. We can walk away from the drama and enjoy our lives. This is how we change the things we can. Just try to imagine what is possible, but remember to always trust your gut.