My Kindertrauma:: Nina on The Twilight Zone Episode "Living Doll" & Talky Tina

When the blockbuster 1960s series called The Twilight Zone featured an episode entitled TALKING TINA, I was 6 years old, and a second grade student in a very strict and demanding Catholic school. I lived in an emotional state that ranged from hypervigilance to barely concealed panic- such an overwhelming atmosphere was this for a young child. One weekend in the fall of this particular year, my mother arranged, at my insistence, for me to spend the weekend with my great aunt Genevieve, a fairy godmother of sorts, who owned a rambling old Victorian home in Cape May, N.J. Genevieve was a hearth of hospitality and warmth, full of fun and mischief unparalleled by any other adult I knew, and a colossal reprieve from the exacting religious sisters who were my teachers and torturers. My aunt and I, from the beginning, shared a love of being frightened by the unexpected…..within the confines of fiction and movies, of course. On the Saturday night of my visit, after donning our flannel nightgowns and scattering blankets along her huge maw of a sofa, we cozied up to each other to watch TALKY TINA.

The house was appropriately drafty and sibilant. As the delicious fear of the unknown enveloped me when the doll’s maniacal wickedness develops in the episode, I looked to my aunt, hoping to see my scared delight mirrored, but her eyes were closed, and her head slumped over. I was bewildered and terrified. I remembered that my mother, her niece, would exhort us to have fun whenever she witnessed our twin flame energies align, but she would also ask me not to let her get too excited. I never actually understood what felt like a looming subtext to my mother’s request, and always found this phrase strangely unsettling. My aunt had suffered a massive and fatal heart attack, as I sat next to her, thoroughly engrossed in the program. I took off, running out if the house, wailing and screaming uncontrollably until a neighbor came to my aid. I was shattered and whirling in terror. I feel so divided about sharing this experience, because my fear that the episode and I were somehow responsible for her demise, is a visceral feeling I have never been able to expunge, even after years of therapy, and the depression and shame I harbored as a young child paralyzes me to this day if anyone in my midst mentions The Twilight Zone.

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Dr. Future
Dr. Future
3 months ago

Nina, that one got my attention – maybe "queen" of the traumafessions. I can't imagine your trauma at that age, but try now to look at it this way – she died next to someone she cherished very much, doing something she loved most in the world, and went from one delight to the next in the beyond. You made her passing not traumatic to her – otherwise being a slow, painful and depressing decline, losing her independence and feeling a burden, with increased pain and fears of the unknown, like many experience in their final years and days. In a sense, you were a delivering angel to her – and she left under the best of terms, being enchanted and sharing her imagination right next to someone she loved dearly, until she fled the reality of pain and suffering, and she did not transition alone and in fear or dread. I think we could maybe all say that our traumas – often lived through our TV screens, as a daily companion in most of our lives – and its tensions and picking at deep insecurities we all have, are finally released when the experience is resolved, and we have a deeper appreciation for the certain things we have – the love of a friend or family member, a dear pet, a cozy bed and a warm cup of coffee or tea, and a good laugh. I know many traumas in this world aren't released so easy, but other people make it their life's profession to let us talk to them, and offer tested professional advice on resolving, or at least coping with their scars; some may only be released when we transition to the love of the Creator's arms, but they all will go away. I think the community here shares with each other what we have in common in what provoked our fears in our days of ignorance, to promote our comradery, and also in a joy that we can marvel them from a state of transcendence. I read the other day that the Greek word we translate as "forgive" really means "to let it go." I now these days read the Bible to suggest that we are being groomed to be high-level leaders or executives in the cosmos to come, and our wounds, trauma and debts that dominate our minds have become viewed to me as distractions to our higher agendas, and we forgive, including ourselves and the events that wound us, not because injustices and affronts are worthy to be forgotten, but rather that they distract us from the critically important good, noble and permanent agendas we want and control. I'm trying to figure out in my life how to let go of hang-ups and self assessments from childhood, and disappointments that haunt, as an old man now, and my visits here to this site remind me that what traumatized us then long ago was a lesson about ourselves, but we have to put in its place. Your experience trumps others I have read here (Unk's lost experience, which I have felt on a smaller scale, is another big one), but I would try to envision your opportunity to make your aunt's ultimate elder-trauma event much less traumatic as your act of love (whether you intended or not), and you will resume your fun adventures with her one day. This site also shows that we as humans get through traumas and their legacy when we "confess them one to another," and we share war stories here and lean on each other – an important mission of this site.