The Hidden PTSD Message in Frozen

I’ll admit it we were a little late to the Frozen craze. We hadn’t seen it in theaters and waited until the Easter bunny brought it to actually see it. I had seen the various versions of  “Let it Go” and the horrible speculation about the “gay agenda”, but when we actually saw it I was reduced to tears. It’s a moving little tale about the power of sisterhood. Something I know little of as my sisters leave much to be desired. But really resonated with me was how much it felt like loving someone with PTSD/TBI issues. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about that piece of our life, but felt maybe it was time again. Partly because parts of Frozen really resonated with me. I could swear that the writers must have experienced llife with a loved one who suffers from PTSD, maybe they felt inspired by the epidemic that is plaguing families all over the country, or maybe my heart aches and I see comfort in a simple children’s movie.

First little Anna sits outside the locked door “Do you wanna build a snowman?” The pleading of a girl whose lost her best friend. They were close, inseparable and suddenly without explanation or reason there is a wall between them. She desperately pleads and hopes to connect, to understand, to heal and she gets nowhere. Meanwhile on the other side of those doors is Elsa; scared and alone, worried about the damage she could do to the ones she loves and little control over it. She suffers alone in a prison of sorts. Wow, that could be our life. PTSD changes people, you lose your best friend, your partner and in most cases that happens long before you even understand what it is you’re dealing with. Then you fight to help them, but they have already closed themselves off into their minds and shut you out, partly because they’re afraid of hurting you and partly because they just don’t expect you to understand. Conceal don’t feel.

Elsa is a lot like someone suffering from PTSD. She keeps it all bottled up and hides, but then a trigger comes and before she realizes what’s happened she’s lashed out, she’s done the damage, and she has to run away. Then she thinks she’s happier in a place where she can just be herself and not worry about anyone else; her ice castle far away. But Anna shows up and she remembers it hurts and she pushes her away again. Yup, that sounds familiar. Let’s self destruct rather than work it out for someone we love.

But we love them anyway. We learn to brace for impact and remind ourselves it’s not us. We sometimes push too hard and get hurt in the process. Enter the Fixer Upper song the little trolls sing all about loving people in spite of their “flaws”. That we all need a little love, but especially these words:

We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange
People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed
But throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best”

I’m a big fan of kill with kindness. It usually makes man I married super sensitive and like he doesn’t deserve us, but at his worst I have to remember to be my best. Not that it’s easy, after all I’m not a saint. But usually when he makes his worst choices, when he acts out in ways I don’t understand I remember that love is a choice and choosing to love makes a world of difference.

I’m touching on the Hans character for just a minute. I realize not everyone may have a Hans, but we’ve had a few. People who come into your life and pretend to be things they aren’t and then take full advantage of the fact that someone has issues that make them vulnerable. With holes in their memories and a desire to make sense of things after pushing their loved ones away I find those with PTSD/TBI becomes easily manipulated by those with devious intentions. To the Hanses of the world shame on you!

In the end everyone ends up where they’re supposed to be and love wins out. Unfortunately that’s not the case for most who struggle with PTSD/TBI. But the little girl in me likes to hope for a happily ever after and an opening of the gates.

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