A few days ago I went to see Disney Pixar’s InsideOut for the second time. I go to the movie theater semi-often, but it is very unlikely for me to go see a movie twice in theaters. I had gone the first time with a friend and her kids the day it came out. I went the second time with a friend of mine during a Girl’s Night Out (yeah, we’re party animals). Both times I watched the movie I laughed a lot, shed some tears, and walked away with some insight into the brain.
While I could share a lot of deep thoughts, the one over-arching theme is that the brain is incredibly complex. Yes, I recognize this movie is an animated kids movie, but it does provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the mind. It isn’t really five characters sitting at a control panel determining our moods and memories or jelly bean looking characters going through a brain building and deleting memories, but it is a connected organ of thoughts, processes, emotions, messages, etc. Our brains do more than we can ever imagine they do.
So what happens when our brains appear to be “mixed up”? Take that one step further and try to figure out what happens when a brain appears “mixed up” in a child that has just entered your home through foster care. You now have a child who struggles to understand what is happening within themselves and struggles to know how to share that information with others. You have a child who potentially has memories, messages and thoughts that are unproductive and debilitating. You are dealing with a child who is facing the effects of trauma.
Trauma is a scary word that brings so many connotations with it. The reality, however, is that many children face trauma, especially those in the foster care system. It is hard to explain trauma, because it is experienced differently for every person based on the circumstances they are in. In the same way, the path to healing will look different for every child. What is most important is that you, as parents, are providing every possible avenue for your child to walk on that path of healing, and that you are there to support and love them through it all. You may never know the difference that you will make in that child’s life.