Monday, July 13, 2015

Trauma and "Inside Out"

This weekend my family visited my hometown and got to see "Inside Out" in theaters.  Which was fantastic #1- because there was NO theater when I lived there, #2 because there is nothing like a movie the whole family likes, and #3 it is a great picture of what life with kids with traumatic backgrounds is like.

If you haven't seen it, don't worry, I won't give too much away before you can make it to the box office (or Redbox).  Just enough to make sense :)

The movie shows what's going on inside as a young girl's memories are stored in short term and long term memories.  Color-coded, glowing orbs replay every moment of her life.  Some even become her "Core Memories" that shape her personality and her outlook on life.

Five dominant emotions- Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear take turns reacting to situations and coding the memory appropriately.  Everything is pretty cut and dried.  Most of the memories are a golden hue representing joy.

I wish every child's life was that way.

Every once in awhile as a joke a commercial jingle was thrown forward into the conscious memory and "stuck in her head".

Now take that same construct and imagine that instead of happy/joyful feelings of being cared for an infant is neglected. Orbs of  Purple (Fear), Blue (Sadness) and Red (anger)  line the walls of memories.  The child begins to feel that the world is a scary place.  A bad place.  An uncertain place.

Or a child is beaten
Fearful.
Hungry.
Cold
Never touched in a loving way
Scared.
Screamed at
Witness or recipient of physical abuse
Left to fend for themselves and siblings at 5 or 6 years old

Those early memories tint the entire world.  It is overwhelmingly fearful, sad, rage inducing.

They aren't the only memories.  All children have some moment of sudden joy.  But the moments of chasing bubbles are quickly overturned by the fear of being hurt by people who should be there to keep you safe.

Quickly, all things negative become the Core memories.  A personality with limitless potential bends towards being dominated by fear and anger.  Safety becomes primary at the loss of everything else.  The child's eyes lose the spark of wonderment.

Instead of a silly ditty about chewing gum, violent crimes pop into mind at incredibly inconvenient moments.  Sitting in class and remembering.  Standing in line and the fear hits unexpectedly.

This picture explains so many behaviors and attitudes of children from hard places.  So here's what I want to remind us all.

Be kind.  Love.  Give people chances.

Lots of chances.

You don't know why they react the way they do.

Keep loving.

No matter how much they try to fight being loved.

Because God isn't finished with anyone.  And He can change and shape and redeem.

The core can be rebuilt on truth that is true and lasting.  The world may never feel entirely safe.

But joy does exist again.