Harry sits watching his teachers celebrate the life of an impossibly huge arachnid. His feet swing and he seems almost gleeful. He has a plan and he has magic. These two together can shape the behavior of an accomplished, intelligent adult and make him do what he doesn’t want to do-tell a secret about He Who Must Not Be Named. We watch as Harry loses the confident smile, concentrates and brings all his knowledge, emotion and influence to bare and he wins. The adult had no chance.
Trauma and Fairy Tales
Each of us remembers fairy tales as a child, whether they were Grimm’s Faery Tales or Disney adaptations or simply the stories of magic and fantasy that we told each other, we remember them. Now, maybe, as adults, we forget as the adults in Peter Pan the power these had over our lives. We forget until we experience trauma or we talk about incidents from our childhood. Then, a glimmer of the belief in our power returns. This belief, this stance that we can control the adults and circumstances around us through our actions and wishes, this belief comes back. It is called the ‘magical child’.
Our brains develop over time and as infants and children, we believe and experience the world as completely revolving around us. We cry and someone helps us, we laugh and someone laughs with us. We are tired and someone puts us to bed. People leave and we think they disappear until they are required again. In times of trauma, our brains/our perceptions regress to this childish state and, depending on our emotional/psychological health, they can stay there. Nearly all children believe they somehow caused, or could have prevented, divorce. Nearly every abused child internalizes that they were the problem, they deserved to be hurt, they could have prevented their abuse by being a good kid or quiet or by saying just the right thing.
Harry Potter and all the wonderful, deep, characters in the series, embodies our belief, hope and fear that if we just make the right decisions, say the right things, be the right person, the right thing will happen and we will save the world. We need that hope and that aspiration, but when it turns to shame, bitterness and self recrimination, we need help.
If this article speaks to you, where you are in a fight against your past overwhelming your future, talk to me or my colleagues. We can help you move from the belief that it was your fault, that you caused it, to a more true perspective-bad things happen, people make bad choices, and we can’t control the world. If you are on a journey to save your world and find you can’t do it alone, let us help you. Even Harry Potter needed the Dumbledor Army.
Christy is Acorn’s Head Cheerleader and expert [to her children] scarf maker. She leads the christian counselors at Acorn to connect to each other, their community and their clients to strengthen those around them. Her commitment to those who ask for help is to find just the right person, hopefully without the grumpiness of the Sorting Hat. If you need counseling, a group or a referral, call. She just might be able to help.