“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Accepting what seems to be a lesser love is what perplexes the mind and heart of Charlie in the book/movie Perks of Being a Wallflower. He believes the girl of his dreams, Sam, does just that, time and again, opening up a hole deep within Charlie. What no one knows, though, is that Charlie carries a very deep wound within himself, and as much as he tries to run from it, it still manages to catch up with him until it comes to a head near the end of the story, leaving him clinging for life. Everything he tries cannot stop the voices that continuously tear off the scab of his own wound and because of his intuitiveness towards the pain of others. He knows and others come to realize that everyone is carrying a wound, including Sam, which leads her to choosing the lesser loves in life and often settling for anything, just to be loved in return. It breaks Charlie’s heart, over and over again, always putting others first, while at the expense of not risking love in his own life. The two finally confront one another before Sam heads off to college, and in the process, the wound within Charlie begins to surface as he says good-bye to the girl he truly loves and the truth begins to be revealed. Both the book and the movie do a tremendous job of allowing the reader/viewer into the lives of these young teens back in the early 90’s when mix-tapes were the thing and when face-to-face was the only way, rather than text and cell phones. Often times in our own lives we are prevented from loving because of those wounds that lie deep within our being, sometimes with no name and at others, just being avoided because the pain is too deep and raw. We too, accept the love that we think we deserve, which is often so much less than is being offered, or as in Charlie’s case, avoids it at all cost, consistently blaming himself for the pain of others, needing to be set free from what binds in order to love more freely and fully. I have read the book and have now seen the movie twice and each time I am drawn in more and more to their lives, and in return, my life and the pain I have and continue to confront; I have cried many tears in reading and watching this story because I know deep down it is also my story and it is your story because each of us, at one time or another in our lives, have to hang on for the journey of descent within ourselves to face the demons that lie within. Charlie is not only the intuitive, empathetic one of the story, but also the messenger of hope; that when all seems lost, freedom and life begins to take shape for him, providing him, and us, an opportunity for something more than a deserved love but rather a love freely given. He points that out in his “final letter” and from that moment forward, by the way he lives his life; yes, a wallflower to others, but now one that can love and be loved in return.