by Leslie Farin
Sally Field shares life stories she never before told anyone
I sat with 649 others at the Dallas Trade Mart Saturday night listening to Emmy and Oscar winning actress Sally Field open up about why she wrote her intensely personal new book, “In Pieces”.
I had not yet read the book when I decided to attend the event. I only knew I greatly admired Ms. Field and wanted to hear what she had to say. I was not prepared for the incredibly brave and honest conversation she had with those of us in the audience.
Ms. Field started writing 7 years ago, and gave herself permission to be brutally honest because she wasn’t sure she would ever publish the book.
She started to write initially to try to figure out what was festering inside her and to work through the discomfort in her soul. In it, she reveals family traumas, including childhood abuse, both physical and emotional, and a deeply conflicted relationship with her mother. She talks about learning that to receive love she believed she had to be simultaneously invisible and terrified.
The coping skill Sally Field used to survive her childhood was to detach from certain parts of herself by which she felt threatened.
She learned to divide herself into pieces to wall off the pain and push forward. Painful memories remained deeply buried for years, but surfaced while writing the book when the emotions spilled out onto the pages.
In high school, acting was an outlet for Ms. Field; one where she could forget her troubles and take on the personas of her characters. Her obvious talent let her to obtain roles as Gidget and The Flying Nun right out of high school, though her squeaky clean image was at odds with her family life. She did not enjoy the roles, and actually referred to “The Flying Nun” as nonsense. These wholesome early acting gigs made it difficult to transition to more serious and challenging roles, but eventually she was able to do so.
I’ve enjoyed watching Sally Field throughout my life – from Gidget to her most recent, “My Name is Doris”. My favorite movie is probably “Steel Magnolias”, but it’s hard to choose. I attended the event expecting to hear about her life as a celebrity and perhaps some sweet memories of her relationship with Burt Reynolds. I left with an appreciation for the pain she endured throughout her life, how her childhood led to bad decisions in adulthood, and how she used her pain to feed her craft. The genuine humility and vulnerability Ms. Field shared were incredible. She ended the talk by quoting George Eliot, “It is never too late to become the person you might have been”.
Now in her 70’s, Ms. Field believes she is working her way to becoming that person.
We definitely recommend you read the book! Copies can be purchased on Amazon ($17.40 for the hardcover, $14.99 for the kindle version)