All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir

All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir

Ashley Judd

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0345523628

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In 2002, award-winning film and stage actor Ashley Judd found her true calling: as a humanitarian and voice for those suffering in neglected parts of the world. After her first trip to the notorious brothels, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, Ashley knew immediately that she wanted to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable. During her travels, Ashley started to write diaries that detailed extraordinary stories of survival and resilience. But along the way, she realized that she was struggling with her own emotional pain, stemming from childhood abandonment and abuse. Seeking in-patient treatment in 2006 for the grief that had nearly killed her, Ashley found not only her own recovery and an enriched faith but the spiritual tools that energized and advanced her feminist social justice work. In this deeply moving and unforgettable memoir, Ashley Judd describes her odyssey, from lost child to fiercely dedicated advocate, from anger and isolation to forgiveness and activism. In telling it, she answers the ineffable question about the relationship between healing oneself and service to others.

Foreword by Nicholas D. Kristof

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away on her deathbed. When I asked about her family, all she could whisper was “Pol Pot,” indicating they had all been murdered. I was beginning to grasp the intergenerational nature of trauma, how the whole population of Cambodia was scarred. Survivors were haunted; children carried their parents’ grief and guilt. A Cambodian doctor I met had survived the Pol Pot regime by pretending to be an illiterate peasant. He worked in a forced labor camp, and for four years, one wrong word, one allusion,

fewer clients to eke out her living. The name of Sochua’s campaign for gender equality was Neary Rattanak, meaning “Women Are Precious Gems.” She told me that she had turned an old Khmer saying, “Men are like gold, women are like white cloth,” into a motto: “Men are like gold, women are like precious gems.” The redemptive message was that unlike white cloth, a gem is a thing of permanent strength and value, and if it is soiled, it can be polished and made to shine even more brightly. I lost

local “hard guys” in a card game. His gambling days over (for a while, at least), Papaw moved his young family back to eastern Kentucky, where he worked as a brakeman for the C&O Railroad. He was a wizard with all kinds of metalwork, and he eventually turned a part-time business building and installing gutters and siding into the successful Ashland Aluminum Products Company. Dad idolized his father, whom he remembers as outgoing, immensely competitive, hardworking, and honest. Papaw never lied

kitchen table in Ashland, struggling over the forms. My godmother, Piper, had stepped into the breach, providing an effective adult presence in my life in the area of higher education. When no one else was paying attention, it was she who adamantly insisted that not going to college was not an option. She supervised everything, right down to making sure I had asked people for letters of recommendation. Nana was supportive, too, as I struggled to find a suitable topic for my essays. But even with

rejection, hurt, jealousy, and anger inside. None of these seemed to fit me, even though I could pin onto others the right assessment. Then I looked at the Family Hero, a responsible, high-achieving “good kid” who follows the rules and is super-responsible, while inside he or she feels guilt, hurt, and inadequacy. I suspected an outsider might think that one fit me, except for the part about following rules (I liked having my own way, thank you very much). But I didn’t feel like the hero child of

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