June 4, 2023


I just watched Forrest Gump for the umpteenth time, and as usual, I learned something new, again. I gained a little more insight into the role people play in our lives. In this case, it was Forrest’s mother. I always knew his mother was a healthy grounding force for Forrest when he was in distress, but never noticed when he lost her how he grabbed harder onto Jenny, who was in no state to be able to support his pain. Subsequently he was further devastated when Jenny could not help him and she ran off to deal with her own demons. After she left, Forrest was lost and then re-grounded himself by running for 3 years.

I cannot stress enough how magnificent and insightful the writing is in this masterpiece. It is my favorite movie to reference in all my trauma classes! It covers every aspect of life and the traumatic events we all go through. It covers how we all navigate differently through these events. How some of us are devastated and crippled by them, and still others who find the path to life altering changes that lead them to finding inner peace and happiness.

The movie covers so many psychosocial experiences and traumas all of us have experienced sometime in our lives. It covers traumatic events such as abuse, war, violence, sickness and death, relationships, addictions, medical and psychological issues, disabilities, and on and on. The movie sort of shouts out to all of us, “we all have suffered past traumatic events in our lives, but there is a path toward resolution” if you are willing to face your demons. However, that resolution depends on how we process those events, and how we can make sense out of them. The movie so poignantly stresses the many paths, both constructive and destructive, that we walk to try and make sense out of our lives.

For those of you who have experienced my groups or have read my posts in my Facebook group, you know how I stress “grounding.” I explain the uses and differences of “unhealthy grounds” (e.g., drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, etc.) and “healthy grounds” (e.g., exercise, therapy, recovery groups, writing, etc.). I stress how fragile it can be when we select a person to comfort us when distressed. I also explain the devastating results when we are let down or lose those people. I always stress the importance of recognizing the risk of using people to ground us when in need of comfort.

The movie captures how unsettling it is when we lose a person that we had a healthy ground with, and struggle to find a replacement. For example, Forrest has his Mamma to always ground him. But as I always stress, when depending on another person for a healthy ground we risk losing them to separation or death. Forrest was devastated at the loss of his mother and in an unhealthy way clings back to Jenny who is not stable enough to fulfill what he needed. Forrest then grabs on to running and does so for 3 years before he is able to re-ground himself in a healthier way.

This 3-year transitional period for Forrest realistically exhibits what we do in real life when we suffer a loss. Forrest grabs on to a healthier way to deal with it. However, many people often do not, and resort to unhealthy grounds such as addictions.

Take note of how people in your lives have impacted you all, both positively and negatively. Understand the roles they played and may still be playing in your lives. Understand that using a person to help ground you is fine, but it is only temporary while you work on an internal ground that is much more permanent and settling.

Let me finish with a summary to help clarify my point. Look at the important people in your lives. Recognize that our relationships with others are only temporary. No one avoids death. The roles they play in your lives should be to embellish your lives, and not to be crutches in your lives. Recognize that it is okay if you are using people as crutches, but it is not the final solution to you finding inner peace or happiness. It means you still have work to do in resolving your pasts. Friendships and relationships

should embellish your already happy lives, and not be the reason for your happy lives! And to quote Forrest, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT