Lisa Alessio

Lisa Alessio / Along the Way

I remember a long time ago watching a program on TV about how to identify the unhealthy relationships in our lives and why we, as human beings, seem persistent in wanting to stay in those that are so bad for us.

This past week, it was newsworthy that actor and director Mel Gibson is being investigated for allegedly verbally and physically abusing his girlfriend, the mother of his eighth child. He’d been married previously for nearly 30 years and during that time battled a continuing addiction to alcohol and had several run-ins with the law, one time verbally harassing a female officer, and making anti-Semitic remarks to the officer who assisted in his arrest.

This past week he is being accused of abusing Oksana Grigorieva and is in danger of facing jail time if the accusations against him prove to be true.

As many people know, I’ve been a fan of Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” for some time now. I think that film did wonders in introducing many people to a fairly accurate and emotional portrayal of Christ’s last hours before the crucifixion and the horrifying events of the crucifixion itself. There were people who actually came to faith because of that film and many others who allowed themselves to better understand the amazing and selfless sacrifice that was made for us.

So now, here is this man, this brilliant film maker, obviously so very flawed and struggling with his own, very personal demons. How can someone who has wowed the critics over the course of his career and who is revered for making such brilliant films, be a man that could also be capable of such destruction in his own life?

I struggle with this, not because I’m a huge fan of Mel Gibson, but because I look around me and see the people in my own life struggling in similar relationships and allowing themselves to be victimized by others who, in the midst of their own battles, hurt the people around them.

I don’t particularly sympathize with the woman who is the mother of Mr. Gibson’s child. It seems to me she might have seen him as a way to further her own ambitions. What intrigues me is the fact that--despite all of the obvious signs that she was getting involved with someone who had a clear history of instability--she did it anyway. That is where my interest lies. Why do we slap on the rose-colored glasses when we need most to see clearly?

In the aforementioned program, one of the things that was pointed out was how people tell us who they are very shortly after we meet them. When we first meet new people, they show us their best sides, as is human nature. We also find, though, that they show us a pretty good picture of a lot more, too, if we allow ourselves to see it. We carry with us every experience that we’ve had prior, including our addictions, our bad habits, our selfish motivations, and our egos, or lack thereof. In my own life, I can look back and see many times that I overlooked what today would be clear signs that I was headed for trouble. Yet, we want to please, and we want to be accepted, so we learn to disregard the obvious.

I see this a lot around me. I am humbled by the things I, myself, have allowed to pass for acceptable in some of my own past relationships. When I look around and see what so many others are willing to allow, it leaves me astounded. Yet, so many people are willing to lower their standards when it comes to their relationships--more so, it seems, than ever before. It’s as though people have lost the meaning of what it is to love, respect, honor, cherish, value, and appreciate each other and themselves. We treat each other as though nothing is sacred, everything’s replaceable, and our actions are always excusable.

I obviously don’t know Mel Gibson personally, but by his own admission, he is an alcoholic. With all due respect, there are many, many people battling the disease of alcoholism, some very successfully. Some, though, will never win that battle and that’s very unfortunate. Mel Gibson is in recovery, and hopefully that’s a battle he’s on the way to winning.

However, I’m not certain that alcoholism is his only threat. If indeed any of the allegations against him prove to be true, there may be another issue at hand that could be just as problematic, if not more so. Over time, he has displayed on many occasions that he has anger issues, racial issues, issues with the law, issues with women, etc., which seems to me add up to just a really hateful, bitter, and probably very damaged personality.

Was this news to Ms. Grigorieva? I don’t think so. I think her own motives overshadowed her ability to see clearly what she was in for. I think she, as many of us have done, wanted to believe that he would changeÉcould changeÉand went full steam ahead with her own agenda until it literally smacked her in the face. The outcome of it, though, is that now there is a failed marriage, a family torn apart, a child that is in the middle of a war between her parents, and a man’s reputation and career at stake.

Mel Gibson is a very talented filmmaker and a pretty good actor. He’s a father to eight children, was a husband for nearly 30 years, and has been widely respected in the industry. I hope, for his sake and the sake of his family, that he accepts responsibility for his actions, turns away from those people and things that are ruining him and back to his family and faith in God, once and for all. Only God knows his heart and if he is capable of truly changing his ways.

But, if it’s true that people really do tell us who they are by their words and their actions, then this is one person who from this point on will no longer support Mel Gibson’s films or projects until he names it and claims it, so to speak.

I use Mel Gibson as an example here, of course, but I think it’s so important that we see clearly the people we allow up close and personal in our lives and that we, ourselves, take full responsibility for our own actions and the effects they have on the people around us.

We do tell who we are by how we live, what we hold dear, what we believe in, and how we choose to represent ourselves to the world around us. The good news is that we also have been given the opportunity to take the old self and throw it away in favor of a new self and a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Personally, I’m thankful for that. I need that as much as anyone. We all need that, I think.

God bless and have a great week!

Lisa K. Alessio is a lifelong resident and writer living in Grove City. She writes on life, faith and family for Allied News. Reach her at alongthe

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