04/06/2012 05:48 pm ET Updated Jun 06, 2012

Titanic: Deeper Life Lessons Than 'Just' Young Love

It's back, and this time it's in 3D. Titanic hit the big screen today after 17 years, or nearly two decades. In that time, all four of my children have left the nest while I've earned a college degree and my private pilot's license, started my own company, published my first book and am now venturing into the world of non-profits.

You could just call me Rose. Not that my first love died at sea, or anything nearly so romantic. But I recognize a sister when I see one, and Rose is definitely -- in life's lessons, for sure -- a sister.

When the epic was released in 1997, everyone swooned over Jack and Rose, the movie's star-crossed lovers. After seeing it, I took away another message: Rarely will life be what you expect, but that doesn't mean you can't make the most of it.

Who hasn't seen Titanic on TV (at least once, if not a dozen times) in the interim between its first release and today's 3D version? So then why would we pay to see it again on the big screen?

Because, as one moviegoer told me today, it's about "following your heart." That's what Morgantown, W.Va., resident Mitch Marozzi, 22, said after seeing the 3D version at a local theater.

But Titanic is also about "honesty, pride, maybe honor," said moviegoer Tyler Kelley, 15, of Kingwood.

Whoever said today's youth have missed the boat when it comes to their ability for deep reflection, obviously hasn't met these two young men.

Kelley's comment really hit home -- and I think that's why moviegoers love this film: It's about overcoming obstacles (with pride and honor) and survival (because you followed your heart). Those two themes always hold more appeal on the big screen.

I understand Rose and her struggle for survival, because I used to be her: trapped in an abusive relationship I feared I would never escape, suicide seemed like the only way out. (Let's not forget, that is how she and Jack met in the first place.)

For me, this is one of Titanic's deepest lessons -- not the sinking of an unsinkable ship, not the romance that blooms between Rose and Jack -- and it's one many women need to learn.

Do you hear me? It's not okay to let yourself be sold to the highest bidder just to save the family name, or anything or anyone else. Especially if and when the winning bid is accompanied by slaps, threats, physical violence, intimidation and manipulation.

As Jack told Rose, though, he couldn't save her -- she had to save herself. And no one can save you but you. Rose knew that, too, which is exactly why she fled Cal, her abusive fiancee.

Rose, if she was real, would tell you that. She'd also tell you that life after true love does go on. Or, as Marozzi said, "to follow your heart." It may take time to heal, but life does not stop with the death, divorce or desertion of a loved one.

Titanic's second life lesson is this: Losing even your greatest love doesn't mean you need to lose yourself. Rose had dreams, so she and Jack made plans: to ride the roller coaster in Santa Cruz, Calif., to learn how to spit like a boy and to ride astride a horse (not just sidesaddle, mind you), among other things.

As Titanic shows, by way of the pictures Rose takes along to adorn the dresser during her final ocean cruise at the age of 101, our hearts still do go on after a great loss. Those pictures show Rose riding a horse at Santa Cruz, and the ferris wheel in the background implies she also rode it.

They show much more, too: Rose was happy. Her heart took her far beyond the dreams she and Jack shared -- they took her into acting and flying (as in becoming a pilot, not just a passenger) and a very full and rewarding life.

It's been 17 years since Titanic first sailed across the big screen. It's been 22 since I left my abusive ex. Like Rose, I've followed my heart and continue living my dreams. That's the life lesson Rose would want you to learn, too.

For more by Daleen Berry, click here.

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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.