Where the wild things are

Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak is one of my favourite children’s books.  As a child, I remember being scared of the things, but also being drawn to them.  As an adult, I recognise the book as a brilliant glimpse into a child’s anger.  Yesterday, I went and saw Spike Jonze’s cinematic interpretation of the book, and was amazed at how much it affected me. As a generalisation, I think the movie would ring true for many survivors of childhood abuse.  Sitting in the theatre witnessing Carol’s uncontrollable rage at things he can’t change or understand, or hearing Alexander say several times “no one listens to me”… it rings true of the confusion, loneliness, pain and fear we experience during abuse.  The things couldn’t verbalise their pain, they could only feel it and react when it became too much.  Like the things, childhood abuse survivors rarely verbalise their pain during the event(s), or for many years afterwards.

I sat through the movie, next to the mother (yes, she ignored my requests not to come up), hoping that she would relate the movie to my childhood.  But she came out saying that the movie wasn’t what she was expecting.  She’d been disappointed.  But to me, the movie was validating – THAT is how I coped with the anger, I couldn’t destroy trees or other people’s home with my anger like Carol, so I compartmentalised it.  I now try to express that anger through my self-injury, suicidal ideation and intent.  This is me destroying people’s houses and striking out in the only way I can.  I still can’t verbalise that anger, but I can hurt this body.  This hurting is the language of the ones holding the anger and pain.  At the moment, it’s their only language.

I’ve read reviews of the movie, where it has been considered a cautionary tale for adults expecting someone to come along as a false king, and save them from themselves.  I think this holds true for those of us during our healing journey too.  We can’t expect anyone to come and “save us” or be our king, but we can hope to have someone offer guidance and help.  Healing and holding this anger is hard work, but in the end we are the only ones who can do the healing for ourselves.  The skill of those around us will influence the rate of healing, but they can’t do the hard work in our place.

I know that we can continue on this healing journey, but we need to maintain our safety in the process.  Our safety has become more of an issue over the last two weeks, to the point that I will hopefully be going into some form of respite care on Boxing Day.  I need to do this to try and work through some of my anger in a safe environment.  I know the anger has to be there, I need to get in touch with it and release some of it before it consumes me.


10 thoughts on “Where the wild things are

    • Hi Kate,

      If you do get to see the movie, I hope you enjoy it. I’m always wary of recommending a movie, but this one affected quite a few of us for different reasons.

      Take care and have a safe holiday 🙂

  1. There seems to be something really important about these last two paragraphs. In a way I’m glad that you can see your need for safety, and your need to deal with the anger in a controlled environment. In a way that’s a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Being able to put your safety first, and know that you can deal with these things in the right place, is so so important. Well done!

    Please take care, I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time.


    • Thanks Kerro…

      I’m trying to work on getting myself to safety. I’m aware that there is a huge disconnect between my behaviours – I was incredibly unsafe during lunch, but while actually working I’m incredibly functional and questioning whether I need to look at respite care.

      Thinking of you today and hoping it all goes well.
      Take care,

  2. This is a really special post, written from a special place inside. The times when I am able to kind of put all the pieces together, like you did here, are for me about tapping into the reservoir of what all of us inside share. That’s a skill. A really important skill. It’s that ability which gives us hope to continue the struggle and to heal.

    To be honest, I read that story to my kids long ago. But I never at all identified with it. It just seemed to me to be a quirky oddball story. But maybe that’s not true… as I write this, I am hearing inside that it hit us on some important levels. Probably it’s the part about leaving his room and coming back to his room and his family not knowing he was gone or on a long journey. That was the life of many of us inside.

    Yes, it’s validating. I am glad you were able to have that for yourself.

    I hope you can find it in yourself to get the help and respite you sorely need.

    I’ll be thinking of you.


    • Thank you Paul, although it worries me when I’m able to do a post like this that I’ll never be able to again, or that now people’s expectations of me have risen to a high level that I won’t be able to live up to. Yes, my insecurities are hanging out 🙂

      I like the quirky oddballness of the story. But it’s really the representation of the anger that gets to me. It was so obvious watching it on the big screen that the things are a mash-up of emotions that we can’t understand or cope with. I don’t think many children would get much out of the movie, and would possibly be scared by it… in many ways, it’s a movie aimed at adults which happens to be adapted from a children’s book.

      I’m trying to make sense of what is happening for me at the moment, but failing pretty badly. I’m currently waiting to be assessed by the crisis team to see if I’m a candidate for respite care – it would appear not based on their phone interview. This will mean a hospital stay with all of the negative connotations and triggers for me. It’s a waiting game.

      Take care,

  3. Oh, now I have to go and see that movie! I read it to my daughter when she was young, and like you never particularly connected to it, but I have a feeling that will change from the perspective I see things now.
    Thanks for blogging about it, I probably wouldn’t have bothered seeing it otherwise!

    • If you do go along, I hope you get as much out of it as I did Jahda… It could well be a combination of my mood and place in time that meant that it moved me. So, I’ll feel a little silly if others go along and walk out of it wondering what in the world I was on about 🙂

      Take care,

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