What Moana Taught Me About Trauma

By Kimberly Poovey

My child has recently become obsessed with Moana. (Yes, I know. We are a little late to the party.)

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m a little obsessed too.

It is so refreshing to see a female heroine in a kid’s film that passes the Bechdel Test – a heroine who goes on her own journey of self-discovery that (shocker!) doesn’t involve romance.

But what stunned me, what absolutely knocked me to my knees, was what this film taught me about trauma recovery.

You are not defined by your darkest hour. You are greater than what has been stolen from you.

I am currently wading through the thick muck and mire of recovery from childhood sexual abuse, and sometimes it gets ugly. My therapist says that I “check out” as a defense mechanism – that I numb myself by disassociating from the trauma. And I do. Because I’m terrified to feel my feelings. I’m terrified that if I really let them out, I will be crushed by them. I’m getting there, slowly, one painful step at a time. But I’m getting there.

So imagine my surprise when what I thought would be a fun, cheerful Disney flick left me ugly-crying and gasping for breath.

*Spoiler Alert*

When Moana finally confronts the lava monster Te-Ka, she realizes that the creature isn’t what it seems.

See page 2 for the rest…

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