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Out of the Shadows: Scandal's First Lady

While I was watching #Scandal throughout the first few seasons, it was in my opinion that Mellie Grant was arguably the most disliked character on the show. She is cold, a schemer, morally corrupt, and appeared to be unapologetically evil. A woman who was willing to do whatever it takes to keep her husband (President Fitzgerald Grant) at the top, no matter who was hurt in the path. What came with my “hatred” for her (who can “really “ hate a fictional character), was also respect for her strength and intelligence. As the story developed and the viewer learned more about Mellie’s history, she became a human and #empathy for her trials and reverence for her #resilience began to grow.

Throughout the story, the viewer witnessed to several intense traumas of Mellie’s. The first was her rape by her father in law, which she held secret from her husband and the world, in order to maintain political favor. The pressure and horror of keeping a trauma like #rape to yourself and having to continue to interact with your perpetrator could quickly cause anyone to become extremely #depressed. Yet, like so many wives in the United States, her belief similar to so many was to suppress their feelings, in order to keep the household running. In Mellie’s case, she needed to keep the country running. (No pressure there)

She appeared to be holding it all together, throughout both her and husband’s own personal extramarital affairs, until her eldest son was murdered, while her husband was campaigning for his second term. This death was the final straw, completely undermining Mellie’s ability to #internalize and suppress her emotions. Mellie fell into bereavement and severe depression for several months, a she reached for anything she could to cope with his death.

As a mother myself, the most intense imagery in the entire series was watching Mellie in her bathrobe, lying by her sons gravesite eating potato chips. The intense pain that one feels when losing a child must be immeasurable. As humans we are wired to expect certain life changes and transitions. The death of a parent or even a spouse is something that we begin prepare ourselves emotionally for prior to the occurrence because it is natural. The death of a child is rare and unexpected and because of this leaves many who experience it in shock with little emotional strength to cope. For Mellie, her coping mechanisms were to disengage from the world, drop her defenses, eat fried chicken and potato chips, and drink alcohol. As traumatic as her son’s murder was, it was a pivotal moment in Mellie’s character development. The moment she went from most hated to most human. This process set the stage for her transformation, built upon a foundation based on self-empowerment. She is now able follow her dreams and run for President ceasing to continue to build someone else’s dream.

As a young therapist working with juvenile offenders, prior to meeting the client’s, I would read about their offenses. My initial reaction would be of fear and uncertainty. How would I relate to these client’s and be able to help them when we lived such different lives? Upon meeting, they quickly became some of my favorite client’s as their history humanized them and allowed for such a powerful and deep #connection. The same thing has happened to me with Mellie Grant. Her story is powerful and one that I believe most women and anyone who has been victimized or experienced extreme loss can relate to.

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