What if Bella Swan went to therapy?
This blog post reveals something pretty embarrassing- I am a Twilight Fan.
Or as we call ourselves- a Twihard.
It's true. I read the books in high school when they came out and attended multiple midnight showings, and even made my own "Team Jacob" shirt one year. Yes, it had pawprints on it. No, I no longer own it (unfortunately).
A suggested video on YouTube led me to discover Cinema Therapy, where licensed therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright, "talk through some of the best (and worst!) examples on film, and how it can apply to real life. We're trying to make sense of life, one blockbuster at a time." They of course reviewed the Twilight series, and boy I cannot recommend those videos enough.
Jonathan Decker identifies as a relationship expert, and to his credit he calls out the abusive dynamics between Edward and Bella, the gas lighting, the emotion manipulation, the isolative behaviors and the codependency. All those things that made it impossible for me to be Team Edward, and unfortunately left me with no other option than Team Jacob, who assaults Bella (kissing her without her consent) and threatens to get himself killed in order to make her admit she has feelings for him- YIKES. Needless to say there is a lot to unpack.
However, one thing that isn't addressed and I always wondered was, why doesn't Bella see a therapist? In the book she writes off the suggestion in one line, stating the fear of being seen as crazy when talking about vampires or in her words, "coo coo for coco puffs."
But what if she did? What would her treatment plan look like? How would her story change if she had felt safe enough to process the trauma she has experienced? How would her therapist address limits of confidentiality? How would her relationships look if she knew how to set boundaries? What if her self esteem improved and she no longer saw herself as broken?
I like to think that Bella's initial session notes would look something like this:
"About three things I am absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of Bella—and I don't know how potent that part might be—that felt dependent on him for her survival. And third, she was unconditionally and irrevocably heartbroken.”*
*if you get this reference to Twilight's book jacket, welcome fellow Twihard. We do not judge anyone here.
All jokes aside, I think the reason my Twilight fan self get's so invested in this question is because I know that even though the characters of these stories are fictional and mythical, their pain, their hurts and the wounds they carry are both real and common.
More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Additional domestic violence statistics and sources available here.
If you know someone who relates to Bella, and fears being thought of as crazy, I hope that you can encourage them to not let this fear be a barrier of treatment. We all deserve a safe space to talk about our inner experiences in a safe and confidential environment.
If you are interested in learning more about healing from trauma, please contact me through my website, email me at email@example.com or call me at 818-465-8516.