Henry is an ordinary boy living an ordinary life until one day at age six a tragic event totally changes his life. In a car with his mother, a marvelous singer who is busy teaching Henry how to do the same, a tragic accident suddenly takes his mother away. And, in many ways, Henry is taken away as well. In response to the trauma of seeing his mother die, Henry becomes a time traveler. Randomly, throughout the next forty years of his life he leaps through time, primarily to interact with the various stages
of the life of his one great love, Claire.
On the surface time travel seems absurd. Yet, if we really look at it millions of people are time traveling every single day. Trauma victims are especially susceptible to doing this. Whenever something triggers a memory of their trauma, they simply disappear. Perhaps they disappear mentally causing them to lose track of the present moment as they drift into the past. Never fully at home, the loved ones around them are frequently left to inquire as to where they are going, since though they may be right in front of them, no one seems at home.
Or, they may disappear into various addictive behaviors. Sex, drugs, alcohol and other addictive “medications” are typical choices used to help time travelers avoid the present moment. That’s because they would rather numb out memories of the past, then face them head on. Then, there are those who disappear entirely. They simply run away from those they love, only to appear and disappear over and over again at the most inexplicable times. Some on the run do take their loved ones with them, unwittingly causing the suffering of those they love, who struggle to cope with the constant feeling
of being uprooted and having to abandon too many times the people and places they are coming to care for and enjoy.
Watched carefully it is easy to see how Henry’s constant disappearances are triggered by feelings of anxiety, fear, and memories of past pain. His greatest fear and pain is of course the loss of someone he loves. Perhaps that is why he constantly tests Claire to see, if like his mother, she will one day abandon him. Fortunately, for Henry, Claire chooses to remain a constant part of his life. But, to do so without becoming a “time traveler” herself (through escapist behaviors), she has to learn a significant lesson. She faces her traumas and losses head on. And, in doing so, she does not abandon herself. An example of this happens when Henry returns to her after disappearing for over two weeks. Bravely, Claire refuses to cancel her plans to spend time with him. She has learned something Henry never fully seems to comprehend, to fully love another, you have to love yourself. Unlike Henry, she refuses to put the present moment on hold.
Wiser on matters of the heart and no longer codependent, Claire lives as she must. She is no longer worried if Henry will go on the run. He has run away too many times already. So, when Henry insists that Claire refrain from having children and attempts to manipulate time to stop her from doing so, she manages to make her dream come true anyhow. Living life, not running from life, is Claire’s major priority now.
In that way, the Time Traveler’s Wife, is a love story. Though it is Claire (and later her daughter) who are the main ones who really know how to love. Henry is too chained to his early trauma, and to fear, to let much of their love enter his life. Though Henry goes to a geneticist to fix his condition, what he really needs is a good trauma therapist. In many ways that is the role his daughter attempts to take on. She too suffers loss, even the tragic and sudden loss of someone she loves. Yet, she copes in a different way. Though young, she deals with her traumas head on, processing her emotions surrounding her traumas in a more conscious and loving manner.
That’s why when Henry asks her how he can learn, as she has, to travel consciously throughout time, she tells him to sing. Why sing? Because his mother was teaching him to sing at the very moment she died triggering Henry’s trauma in the first place. Sadly, Henry let’s his fear and trauma dominate him to the very end. Though he is learning more about love, he is unable to love himself, his wife, or his daughter enough to work through his trauma in a conscious way, so he no longer feels compelled to run away.
But, as I have already said, Henry is not the only time traveler. They are all around us. Let’s pray then that with enough love and courage we can help them all live more fully in the present moment. Then, they will finally find their way back to themselves, their hearts, their homes, and those who love them.
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Time Traveler’s Wife Movie Trailer
Dr. Lisa Love
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