Editor peels away layers to reveal true colors


Inspired and teary-eyed, I remember the waves of emotion that overcame me after watching “The Blind Side” with my friends. As we left the theater, they immediately began to rant about Sandra Bullock’s character, Leigh Anne—judging her tough and direct personality, irritated by her lack of motherly character. They said it didn’t matter what she did, because of the way she did it. They called her bossy, pushy and demanding. I cringed at their words, but remained silent. I was too embarrassed to tell my friends how I had seen Leigh Anne much differently.

As the wife of a wealthy businessman and mother of two, Leigh Anne Tuohy cared not only for her own life, but for her loved ones as well. Leigh Anne sees a homeless boy, by the name of Michael Oher, walking in the rain at night and invites him to spend the night at their home—which, over time, becomes a permanent residence for Michael. She later adopts him legally, and motivates him to reach his greatest potential in both school and sports.

My friends, however, viewed her involvement as overbearing. They saw her acts of kindness as just another charity case. Worst of all, they questioned her intentions in adopting Michael Oher.

That was 5 years ago. Looking back, I think that maybe the reason I was so bothered by their comments was because I saw myself in Leigh Anne. I, too. I have a hard shell—but it’s to protect myself from being hurt by others. I can be overly passionate and irrationally emotional, and I solve that problem by holding it all in. I am confrontational and straightforward, but that’s the only way I know how to be. I keep to myself and don’t feel comfortable opening up to others, because my greatest fear is falling apart and not being able to pick up my pieces. It’s all just to keep me from getting hurt, but to the rest of the world, it is seen as something entirely different.

It may seem that Leigh Anne is a cold-hearted woman who chose to do one nice thing, but she is so much more than that. Think about it—she took in a homeless kid and raised him with the standards that she had for her own children. Just because you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve doesn’t mean that you don’t have one. It means that, more than anything, you fear losing what you love to a daunting, unforgiving world. You care too much to risk exposing it, so you protect it with feigned indifference.

At least, I know I do.

She pretends to hate everything in the most loving way possible, just like me. I take on the “bad guy” role because I know that I have everyone’s best interests at heart, and I can handle it if they’re mad at me for a while.

Leigh Anne’s husband said it so perfectly:

“She’s an onion, Michael. You have to peel her back one layer at a time.”

I am just one big onion—in all the best ways.