Hopeful & Hopelessness in Ben is Back
Pearl of the film: YOU are Worthy
Twas invited to an advance screening of the new movie "Ben is Back" hosted by The Moms with a post film discussion with actress Rachel Bay Jones.
I was not compensated for this post beyond the screening passes and invitation to view the Moms Marketplace.
"Ben is Back" revolves around the pearl of having hope and feeling hopeless. It's a tough movie to watch, especially as a mother.
Julia Roberts plays Holly, a mother of 4 children. With three of her children, you see a "normal" family juggling a million things just trying to get through a day in the life in the suburbs.
Her daughter Ivy, is the lead singer in the church choir and her son Ben, is a drug addict.
Ben is Back home for a day from his rehab program. It's Christmas Eve, a time for family, forgiveness and second chances. Also a day laced with triggers.
As mothers, we want our children to have anything they desire in this world and to know they are loved unconditionally and we got their backs. We want them to be happy, healthy and have a deep sense of self love and worth that wards off dark temptations.
Ben arrives home confident and sober, Holly makes sure of that with a urine test.
You see her struggling with wanting to trust her son and be back to a normal family when she knows he's very far way from normal.
She ultimately shadows him the entire day knowing that temptation lurks in every moment. She places conditions and tightens the leash, then loosens, then tightens.
She is afraid of and for her son.
On a neighborhood drive pieces of his life as an addict fall into view. And it's heartbreaking. You don't know what is behind closed doors. As Holly learns all the things she never knew about her son you see the heartache, guilt and anger on her face.
You will never look at your neighborhood the same way again after seeing this film.
It's an impossible situation and Ben Is Back shows the emotional and physical struggles of addiction with glimpses of the grit.
Is there hope?
The 12 Step Program in Alcoholics Anonymous suggests you take it "one day at a time" and "it only works if you work it" and Lucas's character's addiction is a moment to moment visible struggle.
There are no amounts of saying "I Love You" that will help him lessen the cravings.
Holly is disheartened, heartbroken and way out of her league with his level of problems but is not willing to give up on her son.
Scene by scene, addiction lurks in the shadows. You look back on the movie and see how the drug is always manipulating Ben's actions.
In one emotionally triggering scene, after facing the carnage that followed his addiction, Ben is at a low point and urges his mom to let him go because he believes and says to her,
"I am not worth it."
Like any mother knows, your kid is worth everything.
How can you ever instill the seeds of self worth in your children?
How do you get them to understand how important they are and build that resilience muscle to say NO to what can and will hurt them regardless of the temptation?
How do you restore their self worth when it's been ripped to shreds and replaced with drugs?
The film shows how their family is posited amongst the rest of their community.
As you can imagine, Ben is not a welcome sight. When you see Beth Conyers (Rachel Bay Jones) character you shatter in a million pieces.
Yet, mom to mom you know the struggle is to keep your kid alive. And, it is a matter of life and death.
Never lose hope.
Sobering fact: This on screen family could literally be any suburban family. Long Island is experiencing an opioid and heroin epidemic and this is happening, in our towns.
Drugs do not discriminate and fully derail lives. Addiction comes in many forms.
There are treatment centers, recovery programs and professional therapists for addicts and support groups for families. Some are prohibitively expensive.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is probably the best known and has sister programs for other types of addictions. The program is about cultivating that inner connection and like Ben says "being present" it's all in the moments.
Other's like Freedom 365, which was an Event Sponsor, provided tips for an addict in recovery and 365 days of virtual support. Read their blog "Surviving the Holidays, Staying Sober in Recovery."
We owe it to ourselves and children to be aware, educated and open to the challenges of addiction. This film is a major conversation starter.
Always, always have hope.
ABOUT THE FILM (Click above to view the trailer)
BEN IS BACK, Rated R, Writer/Director Peter Hedges
Nineteen-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns to his family's suburban home on Christmas Eve. Ben's mom, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son's drug addiction. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother's undying love gets put to the test as Holly does everything in her power to keep Ben clean.
Chart Above via Nassau County