The To Write Love on Her Arms movie has been out a little over a week now. Today’s post is the second in a two-part series answering commonly asked questions about Renee, us, David, and the movie. You can rent or purchase it from RedBox, Netflix (as of March 13th), itunes, Amazon, twloha.com, or Walmart online. It deals with sensitive subjects: Addiction, mental illness, self-injury, suicide, and sexual trauma. For individuals who struggle with self-injury, counselors recommend they watch it with a supportive community and have opportunities to talk about it afterward so that it won’t trigger them. Go to my blog from March 8th for part 1.
Were there any other hobbies Renee had that helped her cope with the inner pain?
Yes. Sports. She was always an athlete from the time she first started playing soccer at age 5. She and her siblings all loved soccer. She played on her school’s team all the way through high school and it was a great outlet for her emotions. In middle school she played on each team they offered (soccer, volleyball, basketball and track) and won the coveted all-sports award in eighth grade, a feat not many could attain (although I like to brag that her sister, April, accomplished the same thing that year as a sixth grader!). And her dad and I never missed a game unless we were sick.
It’s really great; our bond is strong, loving, and emotionally healthy. Each of us has healed a lot and reconciled our differences. Once she began her journey of recovery things improved. We had a lot to learn, though. We knew nothing about addiction or recovery. But our relationship with her (her dad’s and mine) was never as strained as the movie makes it appear.
Did you really refuse her to come home before going into treatment?
No. It was actually a mutual agreement for her to move out when she told us she wasn’t “done”. She had gone to one rehab already. Our insurance covered most of the cost and we helped with other expenses. We set a strong and clear boundary by telling her if she needed rehab again one day that would be her expense. She’d have to want it enough to figure to how to pay for it on her own. That’s the reason t-shirts were designed and sold.
No and yes. In reality, they’d met six months earlier the night before she went into her first rehab. She had gone to our church’s young adult service for some encouragement. That evening they just “happened” to interview David – a former addict whose life had been miraculously transformed. No coincidence here. They were introduced to each other afterward by a mutual friend and that was the beginning of a friendship that would carry her through many dark days. He was a true friend who loved her and supported her unselfishly. It was a beautiful thing.
What was our relationship like with David?
There were a few more scenes in the movie that didn’t survive the editing process that would’ve shown more, but we loved David with a passion because of how he helped our daughter. She may not have survived without his intervention. He became like a son to us over the eight years we knew him. Many days he would call just to ask how we were doing, inviting us to meet for coffee to get caught up. And he was always honest when he was struggling with his own demons, but was always full of concern and love for us. He said it was because he knew how much he’d put his own parents through, so he wanted to be there for us.
What an amazing young man. We loved him dearly, imperfections and all. It’s difficult and bittersweet for him not to be here to celebrate and share in the movie’s release. He wanted to produce something that could make a difference in the world of recovery. To give hope. I think he did.
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And if you’d like to read the story the movie was based on click here.
This is one of my favorite Scripture verses that helped me when I needed it most:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”