Have you ever met someone and wondered how the heck they got so messed up? Then you met their parents and you suddenly became impressed that they managed to turn out as well as they did, given the circumstances? That's exactly how I felt about Meredith Grey after watching "The Time Warp" last Thursday
. We finally got a glimpse into Meredith's childhood and, yes, it really was as bad as we'd been led to believe. Lest you think I'm advocating blaming your parents for all your problems, I'm not. But, seriously, if your parents were Ellis and Thatcher Grey, you just might have a case.
In Richard's flashback we were introduced an Ellis Grey who was on-the-rise. Not yet the renowned surgeon who won two Harper Avery Awards, this Ellis was scrambling to make a name for herself. As we've seen over the past six seasons, the world of surgeons is a "shark tank" and it's difficult to succeed in the very best of circumstances. For Ellis, however, her challenge is not only to make her way up the surgical food chain, but to do so as a woman when female surgeons were the exception rather than the rule. The success that Miranda Bailey, Callie Torres, Arizona Robbins, Cristina Yang, and, yes, Meredith Grey can experience today was built on the backs of pioneers like Ellis Grey and Margaret Campbell (the "dinosaur" we met last season in "An Honest Mistake").
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But here's the thing. Ellis' ambition didn't leave any room in her life for her daughter. It's not just that Ellis treated Meredith badly as much as she often didn't have any time for her at all. She was indifferent to her own child and that leaves lasting scars. How sad was it to watch little Meredith clinging to her Anatomy Jane doll and crying out for her mother to just acknowledge her existence? For me, it was pretty heartbreaking.
I'm also not giving Thatcher a free pass. Thatcher is just as guilty as Ellis. Gentle and unassuming by nature, I've often wondered how he and Ellis ever got together in the first place. He just always seems steamrolled by the force of nature that is Ellis. Unfortunately, Thatcher's inherent nature manifests itself as weakness. Not only does he not stand up for himself but he also doesn't advocate for his child. Eventually he leaves the family and Meredith is left alone to deal with her mother as best she can. Is it any wonder Meredith has struggled with issues with abandonment having been left emotionally by her mother and physically by her father?
So complain all you like about Meredith. In the interest of full disclosure I will freely admit that during the Dark and Twisty Years (Seasons 2-4 book-ended by Seasons 1 and 5) I found myself really exasperated with Meredith a lot of the time. Her whining. Her complaining. Her inability to receive love. Her self-loathing. Her self-destructive choices. But now, having seen a Season 6 Meredith who is, for the most part, healthy and whole at long last, I have to give her credit. She's a good person, a loyal friend, a committed wife and a developing surgeon. Despite her past and her parents and her baggage, she's not only still-standing but also thriving. And that's a tremendous accomplishment. Bravo, Meredith! I'm proud of you.