Music is a form of communication and expression for me, so you will see some music videos posted on this blog as they related to subjects such as abuse, healing, trauma, etc.
The video for “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul and Anne- Marie, I thought is an important video because it vividly portrays the experience of a woman who uses dissociation to protect herself from a stressful, and traumatic experience. Dissociation is survival mechanism also common to victims of domestic violence and child abuse.
The nature and cause of dissociation is complex, and this article is not meant to offer medical or professional advise but rather to give a general description; additional links and info are included below for further reading. Dissociation happens when a person can not fully comprehend or assimilate an overwhelming or traumatic event. In order to protect itself, the brain breaks up (fragments) the traumatic experience to help people from experiencing too much pain – whether it be physical or emotional pain. As soon as it is safe to do so, those pieces are assimilated or resolved. If the trauma and resulting fragments are left unresolved, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, and other psychological and physical problems often result. Dissociation in a child or parent will also affect that person’s ability to form attachments in their own family, and affect their ability to later develop other social relationships. The way dissociation manifests is unique to each person, and their experience.
There is a range of symptoms and manifestation of dissociation from day dreaming to anxiety and diagnosable disorders; a number of factors determine how severely a person is affected (those factors are explained here: Dissociation Explained). Momentary dissociation vs. longer episodes also impact the severity. Dissociation is a normal reaction to an abnormal or traumatic event that includes repetitive abuse, and complex trauma.
The song “Rockabye” is performed by Clean Bandit, an electronic/dance band from England. The video tells the story of a woman with a troubled past who is raising a son on her own after the child’s father left. The woman has been disowned from her own family because she did not live up to their expectations. The woman has resolved to give her child a better life than what she had experienced. She is portrayed as a devoted, loving mother.
In order to make ends meet, the woman resorts to working in a strip bar. The patrons in the strip bar are older men, shady characters. In order to cope, the woman imagines a hole opening up in the wall, and instead of dancing for these perverts who treat her poorly, she images she is dancing on top of a beautiful cliff facing a vast ocean. In another scene, she is twirling on a pole in the midst of a serene forest with the sun shining through the trees. In between these scenes the woman thinks about her son – the video shows as he grows from an infant to a young child. This is dissociation – temporarily spacing out of your reality, imagining you are someplace else.
The woman is a skilled and talented dancer. Outside of the bar, through her imagination, you can see her strength, beauty and athleticism in her moves. The way she dances looks more like a professional performer or artist when she is in her safe place, free to express herself. And that is the tragedy of this video – that someone with so much heart, and talent would be reduced to this miserable circumstance.
There are touching scenes of the mother and son swinging together on a playground, in another scene they are riding on a train together and she holds him close, rocking him. The mother has given her life to protect her son, and keep him safe. The hope in the video is that through the efforts made for her son, she will be able to start anew, and will achieve that better life she has courageously worked for.
There is also hope for abuse survivors, and those who have experienced dissociation due to traumatic events, that it is possible to recover, and to enjoy a healthy and satisfying life.
“Rockabye” is an amazing video – be sure to check it out. The song is positive, upbeat.. and has given me insight that helped me take another step forward in my recovery from abuse.
Have any songs, movies or messages inspired you? Plz post below!
“She tells him ‘uh, love, no one’s ever gonna hurt you, love
I’m gonna give you all of my love
Nobody matters like you’
She tells him “your life ain’t gonna be nothing like my life
You’re gonna grow and have a good life
I’m gonna do what I’ve got to do…”
~ Rockabye, Clean Bandit (In this verse the mother is singing to her child)