December 17, 2019

Once Upon a Time

Mental Health & Wellbeing

Oh, the Disney movies I have seen.

Growing up in Ukraine, I remember one of my favorite things to do moments was to wake up early on Saturday mornings on Saturday morning and watch Disney movies. Watching television was a luxury, so I cherished each opportunity I had. I looked forward to the Saturday’s because there was a sense of predictability, relaxation, and comfort. I remember trying to watch a Ninja Turtles movie with Ukrainian translation but our television was experiencing poor connection issues. I could only hear the sound, without any image on the screen. I sat in the chair and just listened to the entire movie! Talk about perseverance and adapting to your circumstances.

When we moved to the United States, I struggled with the acculturation process. I and it was difficult for me to learn a new language, make friends, attend school, etc. As I was struggling and learning how to navigate the new culture, I would look forward to the weekends because I knew I would be able to could watch a Disney movie and explore a whole new magical world.

The Story of Ursula

Recently, I was watching “Once Upon a Time,” a TV show that appears on Netflix. The show is about fairytale legends living a dual life; , one in the fairy tales and another in the modern world. The fairy-tale world was frozen by the Evil Queen’s curse and the characters were transported to a town in Maine called, “Storybrooke.” In the show, the characters are from ancient fables and legends are introduced to modern day Disney characters. These characters are usually facing some form of adversary and life-threatening events in pursuit of their happy endings.

One of the episodes introduced Ursula’s story. She lost her mother at a young age and used her beautiful voice to sing and cope with sorrow and feelings of overwhelm. However, Poseidon, Ursula’s father, manipulated her to use her voice to lure ships into rocks, thus having the humans aboard those ships meet an untimely demise. Poseidon was filled filled with grief and bitterness towards humans. Eventually, Ursula refused to be manipulated and escaped her father’s kingdom. She settled amongst humans and used her voice to make other people happy.

Here comes the plot twist: Captain Hook was in pursuit of revenge to mend his broken heart. Because Poseidon got in the way of Captain Hook’s revenge, he heard Ursula’s beautiful songs. He befriended Ursula and when he realized that her father got in the way of his way of revenge, he used magic to take away her singing voice. This experience was devastating and completely changed Ursula’s trajectory.

The Silence

At one point, maybe we’ve felt safe and secure to explore the world, to pursue our passions, discover our interests, build friendships, to use our voice to make a difference, and so forth. Each one of us is unique and valuable. We hold experiences that have shaped our perception of the world. We rely on significant people in our lives to help us get through challenging moments. When we’re able to make sense of our experiences, we’re able to use our voice to make a difference in our personal lives.

Unfortunately, I hear people on a daily basis grapple with experiences that are similar to that of Ursula’s. The friendships we trusted and relied upon suddenly left us feeling betrayed and hurt. Maybe there have been moments with our partner where we felt manipulated or lied to as well. Maybe you’re experiencing a difficult time sharing your voice at work or in the classroom because of specific comments that were made… and the list of experiences that silenced you continues…

Villains are Not Born, They’re Created

It’s possible that some experiences that you’ve been through are so overwhelming, that the thought of sharing them with someone is terrifying. So, we hold on to these experiences, we stay quiet, and silently move through the day. Silence becomes our new norm. It becomes easier to stay silent because, why bother?! Why bother trying when all that ever happens is disappointment, hurt, pain, and loss. Why bother using your voice when all you ever feel isis… the feeling of someone reaching into your life and taking something precious away from you. Why bother? Why bother using your voice when you feel more comfortable being left alone. It feels safe and secure. It feels comfortable.

Even with all that, I want you to know that you matter! You are unique, precious, and an invaluable person. You may have been through experiences that have been unfair, painful, overwhelming, and the list goes on… Maybe you’re having a difficult time getting through the day, have lost interest in things you used to enjoy, are having a difficult time sleeping, and are feeling hopeless. I want you to know that these experiences are a part of your story, but they don’t have to define your story. You have a unique voice and deserve to be heard, understood, and respected. You too deserve to pursue your “happy ending.”

Call to Action

In the show, Ursula went to become a villain and hurt others because she was hurt, betrayed, and manipulated. However, towards the end of the show, she was able to recognize the pain she was holding on too. She was able to do well, gain her voice, and reach her, “happy ending.” In my experience, I felt silenced in my daily interactions because I literally couldn’t use my voice as I didn’t know the language. However, I had people that believed in and supported me through this process.

I want you to know that you don’t have to hold on to these experiences on your own. You no longer have to carry the burden of pain, hurt, and any feelings of overwhelm by yourself. We are here to support you through the experiences that have silenced you, and will support. Support you through any pain, hopelessness, and overwhelm. Reach out today and together we can redefine these experiences, bring hope and healing, and help you begin to use your voice. Call us today and together we can begin to work toward your own “happy ending.”

Written by therapist Viktor Terpay

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