‘I plan not to read it’, responded American actress Joan Crawford when asked if she intended to read Mommie Dearest. That now legendary book, later made into a movie starring Faye Dunaway, was written by Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter, Christina, and detailed all the abuse she bore at the hands of Mommie Dearest.
Who was Joan Crawford? She was an Oscar-winning actress who quickly rose to stardom by, allegedly, bedding every male in 1930s Hollywood, except Lassie. She was the kind of actress who played it 24/7. She was always perfectly dressed, perfectly made-up and perfectly coiffed.
But her exterior perfection disguised her abusive mothering. ‘No wire hangers’ sound familiar?
According to the book Not The Girl Next Door, Joan Crawford said, ‘Why spoil days of your life reading a book that can only hurt you?’
Nevermind that Mommie Dearest was a cry of profound pain by her eldest child.
‘Once you’ve read it’, she wrote, ‘the specific words stay with you and torture you…I’ve learned that there are people who will hurt you, if you let them—even if you don’t let them’.
After all, this is all about you, Joan! Ignore your daughter’s pain…just as you always did when you were raising her.
She goes on to say, ‘I prefer to cut off people who can only hurt me, who want to hurt me rather than to continue to give them power over me to go on inflicting pain’.
That’s right, Joan. They are the ones hurting you! My mistake, I thought it was the other way round.
Joan’s response is a good glimpse into the mind of an abuser. They simply don’t care. If they had cared, they wouldn’t have abused in the first place.
The only person they care about is themselves. They refuse to face the ramifications of their actions.
Had they had it to do all over again – they would apparently have done exactly the same thing, given their lack of empathy and remorse now.
Joan Crawford gives us a precious insight into the mind of an abuser. Her death provides even more. Although it’s been white-washed, the truth is that Joan Crawford committed suicide two days after spending Mother’s Day alone, unvisited by any of her four adopted children, in 1977.
I guess it got to her…after all. The final curtain on a completely self-centered life. Or maybe her suicide was her final act of abuse. An action taken to make her children feel guilty for Eternity.
Whatever the truth, don’t expect your abuser to suddenly change. Care. Show remorse or empathy. If Joan Crawford is anything to go by, it simply won’t happen.
Photo by classic film scans