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No matter how well you think you understand, you don’t understand well enough.
If you don’t understand what I mean, go see the movie, Room, while it’s still in theaters. Or read the book. Or, like I did, do both.
The first part is set in a single room where a five year old boy and his mother have been held captive by a creepy abductor. The boy has never known the outside world and the mother allows him to believe it does not exist. She’s created a life for her son; but she knows there’s more out there. She hatches a bold escape plan, but is unprepared for it to actually work.
Watch for two crucial moments in the story. The first is when the mother tells her son about the outside world. The second occurs later, (spoiler alert) after their escape, when the mother realizes that there can be other ways to interpret her relationship with her son. Had she been holding her son captive?
They don’t like that new story. They both have a breakdown.
Breakdowns are what people have when they find they can no longer believe their own beliefs or the beliefs they have adopted. Breakdowns can lead to breakouts; but, before they do, they are breakdowns. Scary, guilty, wretched breakdowns. People love their rooms, even as the walls imprison them.
As a therapist, I see people every day in the middle of their breakdowns. They want their questions answered, their guilt forgiven, their fear assuaged. No, they want me to say, of course you haven’t been holding your son captive. They like the old story they’ve heard over and over. They don’t want anything new. They want me to help them repair the walls of their rooms and keep them in.
Stay in, if you must; but, before you do, look outside. There’s more out there. Go see.