DO YOU WANT TO CRY A LITTLE? Not of sadness, but of the happiness that comes from knowing that trauma can be dissolved.

HEALING IS LIKE A HORRIBLE MONSTER, because it calls us to move towards the discovery of a truth hidden behind so many lies.

In only 5 days I have seen this move two times, something I had never done before. The first time with my companion Paula, my 8 year old daughter Amelys and my 30 year old son Elian. We all cried bitterly, moved by a magnificent display of therapeutic resources very well employed by Juan Antonio Bayona, the Spanish director of the movie “A Monster Calls”.

The second time I saw it in Marbella, with Laura and Bruno, a couple of friends, my daughter Ailén, her boyfriend and her daughter, and María José a 60 year old woman that told me: “Since my husband died almost a year ago, I have not gone to the movies.” and so I decided to invite her to the movies, conscious that I was taking her to a psychotherapy session on departure, without her knowledge. This time, like the first, we all cried. When we left the cinema, María José looked dismayed, she looked at me and said: “This movie is so harsh.”, her face reflected a lot of pain that surfaced because of what the movie exposes.

But it is not a torture session, rather a session of great emotional liberation, as it shows how sincerity, truth and authenticity about pain allow us to overcome it naturally. Nothing is unhealthier than lies and self-deception when it comes to overcoming wounds; nothing is more harmful to oneself than hiding emotions or concealing feelings.

It is the story of a child hurt by something that can happen in his life but that he does not want, profoundly hurt by his premonition ability that shows him a tragedy in the near future that he rejects: the possible death of his mother, a situation that he cannot change in any way, even though in dreams he tries over and over, with an ending that breaks his heart in a thousand pieces. He sees everything in dreams, but the child brings that oneiric and future reality to his daily life, creating delicate and harmful situations for himself and his daily environment. The child tries, but powerlessness, indignation and rage take over him. It is in those moments of nocturnal purge, when dreams clean the unconscious of the repressions, that this healing monster appears to tell him stories that seem to be unrelated to his reality, but that ultimately shows him with relentless patience and wisdom that the child hides and contains the secret to the solution. The three stories have a deep reflexive content, the monster tells them with a powerful voice, the tone of truth, using words that are as harsh as they are kind because they are destined to pave the way for a fourth and painful story that the child must tell the monster; the story of what he feels.

This child named Conor, facing the trauma of loss, represents all human children. Every human child faces many kinds of traumas that he cannot integrate because of the purity and innocence in his/her heart. Generally, when a child does not comprehend a painful fact, there is self-blaming, configuring a self-punishment system that might lead to a death wish or suicide. But like every child, he has a healing angel within – and thanks to a mother that had always told him stories with a philosophical and reflexive background- he manages to connect in dreams with his mother’s soul that wants him to heal his pain, as well as the part of himself that wants to comprehend no matter what, to be able to continue his life in a natural way.

Rage, powerlessness, sadness, desperation, fear, indignation and guilt are the characteristic condiments of human suffering towards that which we do not accept and that because of rejection it conditions us to suffer forever.

This movie is a complete psychotherapeutic process by itself; little by little it takes us into the theme and prepares us to the moment of the great surgery, the removal of the lie and the overwhelming emergence of the truth. How painful it is when we realise that our beliefs are untrue. This is why the monster looks at him with love and comprehension and encourages him to dare and take out what is inside him. There were ideas guided by the perception of error. The truth was that nothing and nobody was mistaken and that everything that was happen was just part of life, which has a strange way of showing us how perfect it is.

Every night at a certain hour, the monster appears in dreams, and it is the same hour in which the tragedy happens, representing in some way the fact that the time to see comes for all of us, the time to face the monster of truth. It is overwhelming; the truth cannot be postponed by the soul of whoever wants to heal his/her wounds. The truth is as hard as it is liberating, but the lies that protect or hide the truth must be set apart when we are ready to see.

The truth was tremendous; Conor could not save his mother. His hear screamed “please do not go, I want you with me”, but being unable to save did not mean that he was guilty. He realised he was innocent and accepted that he understood that such was the life he had received, and he just had to accept, listen, feel… and let go. This is dissolving the trauma.

For this child, his mother’s grave illness was the perfect stage for him to become a man who decides to see and feel, and in this way start to comprehend life; it is something that happens to almost all of us, but not all of us have the fortune of going through those hard moments with an open heart. Traumas are experts at closing the heart, and the child navigates between both possibilities: acceptance or rejection; to leave his mother leave in peace or stay trapped in the attachment generated by rejection.

Every person in humanity hides a profoundly wounded child, and most of them are suffering or tremendously entrapped in some moment of their lives, the time when they did not know how to resolve the trauma.

This is why I consider this movie to be stupendous to comprehend something very simple but deep, that it is necessary to go back to address the inner state of the child within. The trauma has occurred and cannot be changed, but the pain persists because, even if we treat trauma in a thousand ways, it cannot be removed; it is installed in some hidden place. Only by opening the wound in the child’s heart can the core of the pain be accessed. There and then the suffering is dissolved and transmuted into love.

Opening the wound is opening the heart.

Conor does it with admirable braveness, and shows that no matter how young we are, and how wounded that inner child is, there is always courage substrate ready to come out and act in favour of healing.

I dedicate this post to my children Ailen, Elian and Aneley.


Alberto José Varela

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