Tribhanga- The movie I need to include in my compulsory pre-watch videos before I start my Healing the Child Within Training. It is a beautiful and quite comprehensive representative of so many of the Inner child concepts and theories that we teach in the training and each character represents the many clients we have worked with, over the years. I cried buckets while watching it and I know many of you out there would, too! Tribhanga and Adverse Childhood Experiences

Nayan, Anu and Masha (3 generations of women) represent the maximum no of clients who come to us for therapy – be it mother in law issues, husband not taking a stand, anger and hatred for mom, sexual abuse, bullying in school etc etc. However Robindro represents the clients who rarely seek therapy – and if at all they come to us, they are the toughest to work with – because their spirituality is often the coping structure/wall that they have created to fiercely protect their wounded cores – and spirituality numbs them, making them spiritualise most of their traumas vs actually facing them and processing them!

Some very powerful concepts of our training and therapeutic practice I share here that the movie beautifully brings out:

  1. Coping structures can be so powerful that they become our personalities. Anu coped up with her childhood traumas using anger, rebellion and hatred for her mother – eventually channelized all that energy into her dance – not quite processing the issues but merely coping or suppressing them and that eventually comes out as anxiety, anger and over protectiveness. In contract her younger brother copes with the same situation in a totally opposite/polarized way which is quietly resorting to spirituality and detachment – somewhat disassociating from the drama and trauma. We have seen that in most cases two children who have gone through the same traumas and exactly same dysfunctional family can have totally opposite way of dealing with it, coping with it.
  2. Most times the younger one will show a completely way of dealing with the environment vs the elder one – thereby creating totally different personalities as adults. Cause is the same – effect shows up totally polarized.
  3. Family patterns get carried forward – generation to generation – Nayan lived life by her terms, never had a normal married life with husband, and same for her daughter Anu. However Masha, the 3rd generation, in order to NOT get into the pattern, got polarised to the other extreme – thereby subconsciously opting for a completely opposite environment from where she grew up – she marries a traditional joint family where shame, fear, judgements, and control are dominant traits – but again for her that is how she copes up with growing up in a modern unconventional single-mother family where there are fewer rules, and boundaries and lots of uncertainty. Her being docile, people pleaser or rather, peacemaker is her way to ensure that she doesn’t go through her childhood trauma of living in a family with too much drama, uncertainty and unpredictability.
  4. Teachers and classmates unknowingly end up traumatising a child for no fault of hers and this trauma remains for life. It never goes away – even when the child becomes a ferocious, successful and supposedly a very strong rebellious adult, somewhere underneath all that, the bullied child who was made to feel shamed, humiliated and inadequate is still there. The outward anger, rebellion and strength are coping structures – defence mechanisms that help the adult survive and protect the vulnerable child within. Anu is shown to have deep rooted memories of her helplessness, fear and anxiety as an adult
  5. Parents relationship issues are never hidden from children and children are the victims of parents own issues – causing them to grow up with similar dysfunctions. Children who are traumatised tend to get so polarised in their beliefs and opinions that they find it hard to see the other side or another perspective (as adults) and hence can spend a lifetime living in their own toxic paradigms (like hating their parents, grandparents or siblings). Children who have been through trauma often end up seeing world as black and white and not shades of grey (called splitting) – making them very judgemental, reactive and non accepting to opposing points of views. Anu seems to be like that in the movie.
  6. Ancestral trauma healing is required so ancestral patterns do not get carried forward – If Nayan had taken some help in her early years of marital issues, her kids would most likely have not been so dysfunctional and would not carry forward the dysfunctionality further
  7. Sexual abuse is so common and it usually comes from the most trusted person. Girls often times blame the bystander or mother who didn’t do anything or didn’t take a stand – even more than the abuser. Victims can carry more anger and hatred for the silent 3rd person than the abuser! Sexual abuse is something the most kids don’t talk about – but do hold fear, shame, guilt and deep rooted sexual imbalances arising from it for a lifetime. Self-harming is one way kids deal with the shame and pain – self mutilation either gives them the outlet for the pain or allows them to feel what they have numbed out. In this case the girl actually tried to kill herself but the scene in classroom with the blade indicated she must be self-harming also
  8. Everything comes with a price – payoff. Nayan made a choice of walking out of her home – and she paid a price for it – so did her kids. Anu also made a choice to become who she did – a controversial celebrity – and she also paid and price for it along with her daughter. Every choice comes with a price and a payoff.
  9. Children do not have ability to understand adult relationships and logic. IF mother had all the good reasons to walk out of a marriage that was not working, the children who were close to father and grandmother did not understand that and blamed her for their separation. If mother had allowed them to continue their relationship with the father and grandmother, keeping her relationship with them separate, the kids wouldn’t have hated her so much. It is important to understand that children need to have their relationships with their caretakers, parents, grandparents and not let their mothers or fathers relationship change that. parents need to have maturity to let that happen (unless that adult is abusive or has some serious issue that could affect the kids)
  10. Life is a full circle – what Anu felt about her abuse and her mother’s role in it, Masha felt the same about her traumas and her mother’s supposed silence. Both were merely perceptions or presumptions of the child – mothers reality was totally different. Often times we believe our reality to be the one true one – but each person can have a different realty and can have his/her own perceptions based on that reality.
  11. Masha represents all those kids who appear to be very sorted, good, well behaved, kind and adjusting. But these kids also are that way due to their past traumas and often times being too nice, accommodating, and sweet comes at a price. Such people can lack a sense of identity, try hard to blend in, only to cope up with their inner fears and insecurities – and they are most prone to getting into abusive relationships. That was the fear that Anu had for Masha – but for Masha that was the escape from a totally different type of reality that she dreaded.
  12. Spirituality often is a great respite to create a numbing wall or coping structure that prevents the person from looking at the wounded core self and healing it – so when the auto biographer asks Robindro to share his experiences he doesn’t even go there – he just rattles off some spiritual stuff – indicating probably he is disassociated and numbed or in denial. It’s not a crime to be that way but as therapists I see that as a coping mechanism and it will work only up to a point because eventually the past and its effects on brain and mind will catch up. Spirituality often give us fancy rationales behind our suffering (karma, detachment etc) but seldom heals it truly from the core. True healing happens when we reach that core and allow it to heal and not hide it behind fancy walls of logic !! Anu was more authentic but her walls of anger are less acceptable to society – walls of spirituality are more acceptable to society !! I see many with spiritual numbing coming to my clinic – often to experience past life regressions or to just rationalize problems with me using knowledge from scriptures !! Tough and tricky ones!

Is anyone wrong or right here? Who is a perpetrator and who is a victim? Can we say that all the women (the ones who come across as revolutionary and aggressive or as silent and submissive) are victims here? Victims of society, family, and their own choices in dealing with those? Can we truly judge?

We will recognize so many friends, colleagues, relatives and clients in the various characters of Tribhanga – let us see them with a different understanding!!

Overall, a must watch for all mothers and daughters above 18

Riri G Trivedi

Regression Therapist, Trainer & Life Coach