“I can see your eyes,
I am hooked on the song, “Black Roses” from the NBC show Nashville, a poetic rendering of the fear, pain and love punctuating the relationship between a daughter – now an aspiring musician – and her abused and abusive mother with a mental illness.
In an interview about this song and her character, Scarlett O’Conner, actress Clare Bowen says that she understands Scarlett as someone who “tries to be what people want her to be, to make them happy, to keep the peace.” Anyone relate to that peacekeeping role?
Seeing this fictionalized rendering of family narratives like our own is somehow a relief. Knowing that our stories are out there and entering the mainstream in a dynamic and honest way, lifts a weight.
The songwriter imagined this song as a love ballad between a man and woman. It works perfectly as a tribute to the struggle to love through hurt, written by a daughter to her mother.
There is a long history of calling the media out on what they do wrong in portraying those with a mental illness. This one is different. The children who are currently in homes like the ones we were raised in, may not feel as alone because they have a critically acclaimed, primetime TV series telling their story and leaving space for all the complicated feelings.
The arts can do a lot to advance the field of healthy family dynamics, by showing a young woman strong enough to own her confusion and try to step out into the world with her heart. Even if this means telling her mother, while hugging her, that she doesn't want her around.