In the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ there is a very beautiful character that I identify with tremendously. Her name is Eleven, also known as Elle. She is one of the focal points in the show where the local town of Hawkins, Indiana discovers unusual experimentation that is being done with children where they are sent to an alter dimension called ‘The Upside Down’ in order to explore the portal that was found to that alternate universe. These children are stripped of their identity and families and forced into actions and environments that are not comfortable or safe. Eleven’s trauma is continually seen and experienced through the audience. It gives us a glimpse as to what her metaphorically looks and feels like to her.
Every time I experienced or re-experienced trauma, it feels like I am going back into the Upside Down. You know the feeling you get when you literally go upside and all the blood rushes to your head? That’s the exact moment that you know you are falling back into this alternate universe. One day you wake up fine, going about life per usual, and all of a sudden a thought comes into your mind, you discover something new, or rediscover something from the past and with one step you can take the fall right into the Upside Down. You get up from your fall, squinting open up your eyes, and feel around. You can feel your breath nauseating in your chest. In this awful place, nothing feels real, you can barely concentrate on anything, “where did I put my phone?”, “did I do everything that I needed to do today?”. You are constantly checking behind your back just in case that this time there is actually something there, you hear whispers, the lines blur, the world around you goes black…and you are in the center of it-without any way out.
“Why am I here again?”, you ask. “Will this ever be over?”
My unhealthy patterns that I carry around with me bore holes into the ground, unbeknowst know to me, laid traps for me to fall through. I can work on these patterns but they were once a part of me, that trauma was very real, and as a result so is the Upside Down.
The visits to the Upside Down are never pleasant. Some stays are shorter than others, some are longer than expected. But at the end of the day I have to remember that my trauma is a part of me. And I have to make friends with my fears. Even though there might be negative patterns from my past at play to bring me down I can now choose to visit the upside down, face reality and the feelings I am feeling, and learn to love myself through and despite the process. This is the missing link, how can we show love to ourselves if we have never been shown what love is? It is something we have to feel in every form, and learn how to create for ourselves and in turn others.
The important thing about the Upside Down is that it is that despite the fact that it exists and feels so real to us is to not let it overpower us. The Upside Down is a place we might visit from time to time, but we know the battlefield, the battle is ours and ours alone, and there is always a way out.
Written by: Anna (Creator of Echo’s Corner)