By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Heidi Stevens points out, Sally Field could have kept her pain largely to herself and written a book about Hollywood exploits. Instead, the 71 year old actress courageously delves into some of the most painful periods of her life.
Sally Field’s “In Pieces” is not a typical Hollywood memoir.
The most powerful and revealing parts aren’t about Hollywood at all, but about the cruel, infuriating injustices foisted upon her during childhood at the hands of her stepfather, the stuntman and actor Jock Mahoney, who lived and breathed just enough Hollywood to keep his family marginally afloat and his ego in constant tatters.
His stepchildren, Field and her brother, Rick, were an easy outlet for his frustrations. He worked to make them feel small and afraid, even as he peppered them with enough gifts and adventures to keep their young hearts and minds constantly off-kilter.
He sexually abused Field for years. It began, she writes, with requests for her to walk up and down his bare, sore back when she was around 7 and escalated from there. The abuse continued into her teen years.
“Over the years, I slowly created a place where I could toss all the feelings I didn’t understand, or the ones I didn’t want to understand, was afraid of,” she writes. “Emotions that many times came to me as physical sensations without words, like the uncomfortable fingernails on the blackboard inside me. Instead of trying to verbalize what I was feeling, even to myself, I’d shove them away. I would pack them up and send those parts of me out the window to stay safe with the tree, while only one piece remained, muted and dulled, though dutifully performing the required tasks.”
Acting became her emotional outlet.