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Ashley Judd: “We’re Only as Sick as Our Secrets”

“I began to understand the dynamics of my past, and how we are only as sick as our secrets, when I was thirty-seven years old and started on a simple and practical path of personal recovery.”

~Ashley Judd


All That is Bitter & Sweet by Ashley JuddIt’s a good thing for the Judd Family that Thanksgiving is still more than seven months away.

The actress known equally for her Hollywood career that’s included more than 20 films as for her famous country singing mother and sister, Naomi and Wyonna Judd, details turbulent years of abuse and family neglect in her new memoir, “All That Is Bitter & Sweet.”

Ashley Judd, 42, opens with a quote from her favorite author, Edith Wharton: “My last page is always latent in my first, but the intervening windings of the way become clear only as I write.”

“So it has been with me as I have undertaken to make sense of my own past,” Ashley Judd writes as she shares the journey of her own personal recovery culled from journal pages and years of painful memories.

“I began to understand the dynamics of my past, and how we are only as sick as our secrets, when I was thirty-seven years old and started on a simple and practical path of personal recovery,” Ashley Judd writes.

As she introduces the sense of trauma, abandonment, addiction and shame she experienced growing up with country legend Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd says her mother created a myth for the Judd family that did not match reality.

Naomi and Wyonna Judd Stagecoach Country Music Festival

Country legends Naomi and Wyonna Judd

“She and my sister have been quoted as saying that our family put the ‘fun’ in dysfunction,” Ashley Judd writes. “I wondered: Who, exactly, was having all the fun? What was I missing?”

Ashley Judd said her childhood experience provided much of the inspiration for the activism that has long been at the center of her life, including work with YouthAIDS, Women for Women, Equality Now, Listen Now, and more than a dozen other charities bringing attention and resources to the world’s most vulnerable communities.

“You know, it’s too late to go back and have a happy childhood, but by the grace of god and a pretty simple program of recovery and a fellowship, life is good today,” Ashley Judd said.

Global activists have praised Ashley Judd’s memoir as a courageous story of faith, resilience and contribution in the face of betrayal, lies and neglect by the people who created myths to promote their careers instead of providing love and protection.

“As I read her account of her childhood, I ask ‘How could one so traumatized, so abused in childhood, become the woman we know, so caring, so altruistic, so compassionate, so concerned for others, and so joyful?'” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “Ashley Judd has composed a memoir that teaches while it entrances and finds hope and faith in the most unlikely places. The book is full of real-life stories that reflect both the compassion of its author and the need for healing in the world.”

Read an excerpt from Ashley Judd’s “All That is Bitter & Sweet.”


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April 2011
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