Last weekend marked my 25th wedding anniversary, which was celebrated in a very unique way. Having encountered series of eye opening revelation about life’s tricky games, this was indeed a perfect time to intimately engage the kids, dive into their minds and teach them how to use wisdom as the ability to learn from change.
As expected, my deep conversation about life, hope and gratitude instantly gave me the icky look from my three very outspoken generation-Z kids, which made it clear that it was indeed going to be an interesting but mediative evening of talk therapy onboard our dinner boat cruise.
As we waited patiently for our seafood combination to be served, I was pleasantly diverted by the beautiful catchy vibes of the sound track ‘We don’t talk about Bruno’ from the movie Encanto playing in the background.
Ah, I bet the kids were relieved and saved by the bell, because they quickly changed the topic once they heard the tunes, and obviously glad to hear the song finally take over mom’s boring talk, (probably also pleased I will finally shut up and stop making this fun evening anything more like my psychology therapeutic clinic).
Thereafter, I began to notice pure display of bliss and bewilderment fill up their faces, bodies moving to the rhythm as their individual point-of-view and opinion surrounding the very controversial movie Encanto began.
Still, my husband and I made it clear to them that the real lesson behind the movie was significantly addressing the pain of Intergenerational trauma in the family, revealing mental health challenges and acknowledging that, spiritually it can be deeper than they can ever imagine.
Here we go… ‘sail with us as I take you into the storyline of ENCANTO. . .
“Encanto is an American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It was released on November 24, 2021 in the United States, took place in the mountains of Colombia and focuses on the Madrigals, a multigenerational family whose members were each granted magical gifts, with the exception of one, Mirabel.
In Encanto, Mirabel’s insistence on seeking out Bruno and talking about the cracks in the family eventually cause the rest of the Madrigals to examine their own issues. This enables them to deal with the impact of intergenerational trauma and move forward as a happier, more accepting, and more functional family system.
Encanto features original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose soundtrack received widespread acclaim and topped the US Billboard 200 in 2022. A massive critical success (earning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature among other accolades), the film went on to become the highest-grossing animated feature of 2021.
So, there is really a lot to reflect on, learn from and love about Encanto, starting from its gorgeous animation, appealing characters, and engaging musical story (best part for my kids) but then, the theme also exposes something many of us today will find profoundly relatable and disturbing, which is:
Not talking about the Origin and Pain of Intergenerational Trauma within the family!
What is Intergenerational trauma?
This is when the effects of trauma are passed down from one generation to the next. It is also referred to as transgenerational trauma or multigenerational trauma.
Every family today must have encountered or still in denial of the pain of unspoken intergenerational trauma in their family as related to the movie, or coping with the aftermath of the deeds.
When the pain and confusion of intergenerational post traumatic events are not properly taken care of, it continues to harbor and disorient the mental well-being of the naïve generation in waiting.
When human consciences are so deeply rooted in secrets so scandalous and dangerous, it births new grounds for regrets, envy and hatred towards each other, within the same family.
Will anyone be bold enough to crush or cancel those generational carry-over curses and burdens that have been circulating within the family? Are we still nursing and sweeping those hideous and detrimental dirt from those before us, under the rug? To keep face, fame or family name?
For how long will we fold our hands and watch in reckless abandonment as our own seeds gasp in bewilderment of how crazy things were then, or laugh at our ignorance because they have chosen to be brave, and chosen the path that prevails towards the light, or even (God forbid) fall through the cracks… all because the pain of intergenerational trauma was never addressed in their family?
Are you following me?
When something happens to one person in the family system it can affect the whole system when not resolved. It can also reveal family patterns of behavior and repeated dynamics across generations that help contextualize how one set has impacted the next. Positively or negatively.
And because it is almost forbidden, it is usually never discussed. It gets hushed as the trauma from unspoken turbulence gets carried on with heavy hearts full of biases, hatred and anger.
We should talk about it to get help, closure or at least deal with it now, so the generation we are raising and thereafter are not burdened by the errs or sins of any past or burdened with…
(1) Self-blame & Depression (2) Denial & Loneliness (3) Attacking Others and seeking attention/affection (4) Withdrawal in their own time and then life-long feeling of insecurity.
Just like in the movie Encanto and our daily lives, some are still dealing with very controversial, diabolic or difficult family members far or near, without really understanding the genesis of the turbulence.
Are we courageous enough like Mirabel in the movie, who insisted on seeking out Bruno and talking about the cracks in the family, which eventually causes the rest of the Madrigals (especially The Matriarch) to examine their own consciences, issues, deal with the impact of intergenerational trauma and move forward as a happier, more accepting, and more functional family system?
Or are you like Abuela (their grandmother) who focuses on the past hurt and miracle that kept her and the triplets alive, who believes that a certain ‘magic’ arose from experiencing deep pain, a pain so deep that it’s impacted each member of the Madrigal clan, even if they don’t know exactly how or why?
Move closer and hear me out…
Accepting deep sorrowful carry over indeed is trauma. And no matter how sweet or tender that person is or was, allowing the rest of the family to carry on their pain is toxic, dangerous and unacceptable.
Are we comfortable in our truth? Or still in denial of what could have been?
Today, in marriages or relationships, we see this same trauma still lurking in the background making our own multigenerational story the perfect lens through which understanding and exploring leftovers or carry overs of intergenerational trauma seem acceptable.
What is it? how can people cope with it? Why is it important to seek help, step out of that circular-curse in order to move forward into greatness?
If you are reading this today, and have ever wondered, ‘why the cracks in my life or my family? Why the cracks in my relationships? can I relate to the apparent unexplained challenges I see in my family-line? Can I be excused of partaking in the trauma-party witnessed in my family? Indeed, are there still many rivers that flow into the reservoir of trauma that I need to be aware of?
Even if an individual isn’t aware of the roots of the intergenerational trauma they’re experiencing, bringing about change can happen by reframing and refocusing events and responses that an individual can control.
So, as I celebrate my 25th year of this edifying institution called marriage with my ‘ForeverDude, I pray for more Godly insight to be courageous in dissecting and discussing filling-up strategies for any situation that comes our way… praying for divine intervention regarding other relationships out there that require super connection and amendment from God. Praying that the generation after us will look back with sound minds while maintaining a Godly foundation, a coherent narrative that encompasses the whole functional family system, at least as much as possible.
And YES! it is okay to talk about Bruno 🙂
Yours in HOPE & HEALING as I share a video clip from Encanto’s ‘We don’t talk about Bruno’
Yinka – TLLP Licensed Child and Family Psychologist, Michigan Endorsed Infant Mental Health Therapist, Certified ABA Specialist & Certified Early Childhood Educator/Policy Advocate.