Tag Archives: Adult Children of Toxic Mothers

Toxic Mom Toolkit Goes to the Movies – Blade Runner 2049 Through the Lens of Toxic Mothering

27 Oct

 

 

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What does it mean to be human?

 

That is the question Blade Runner 2049 poses to the viewer. Manufactured replica humans versus naturally born humans are presented as two very different things; the trump card being a real human is born with a soul, has a childhood and along with that growing up phase, treasured memories. Replicants are produced as slaves to society with imbedded memories that seem real, while real humans with true childhoods are represented as having more depth and choices – and a soul. Or do they?

 

It didn’t happen instantly, but along the line, from my seat, the Ryan Gosling replicant versus human storyline blurred into my experience with unwanted, unplanned, unloved children, versus, those lucky people whose families planned for them, wanted them and treasured them. In other words, my split worldview of unloved versus loved.

 

In the film society had divided itself into slave and free in order to colonize other worlds and rebuild the original ruined one. That required massive numbers of compliant, law-abiding slaves. My internal debate as a movie-goer was who to root for, the replicant who had to process human feelings just like everyone else, who was capable of loving and being loved, or the master/or superior rank of real humans, whose task was to keep order?

 

Sitting next to me, my husband viewed the film as simply a free man versus slave story, with slavery essentially just being a state of mind. In the film, any slave that tried to pass as human faced a death sentence – or “retirement” by a Blade Runner from the LAPD. Ryan Gosling as a Blade Runner was emotionally flat, and job focused. But during private moments, we saw his human side.

 

The story delivered a challenge: What if a manufactured replicant somehow gave birth to a baby? So what is that baby? A replicant or a human? A half-replicant, half-human? Or is that baby the line being erased between two classes of humans? A point of no return and societal chaos?

 

I think sometimes adult children of unloving or toxic parents can feel a little bit like the replicant character in Blade Runner 2049. You exist, but due to childhood trauma or neglect, you have lots of memory gaps. You treasure a few happy memories but know you should have more or you may not even trust your own memories – that you had a sweet experience worth remembering. We are human beings with souls, but there can be an emotional flatness that comes with understanding that many of us were viewed as burdens or even curses to our mothers/parents. Many of us become people pleasers (doing our jobs), we can have a flat effect emotionally, and we may have trouble asking for help, or connecting with others. We know we are different in some ways and strive to fit in with others whom we view as better or luckier than us because of their loving family relationships.

 

And yet, many of us managed to bloom as adults, creating strong bonds within our own family and social structures. Sometimes we are so good at appearing human that people are shocked when they learn of our origins. Some of us don’t talk about our backgrounds, except for a few trusted confidants. Talking about our stories often feels dangerous, as if we are exposing ourselves, as “less than” people.

 

As the popcorn in my bag got lower and lower, I debated what qualities make us human and how much of my own life has been about choosing to live as fully as humanly possible. As the film concluded I was reminded that there are qualities that confirm our humanness, such as the ability to love and be loved, to consider the feelings of others, and to make sacrifices for a good cause. To be truly human is to assume that every living thing also possesses a soul, an inner life, and to treat others with kindness and respect regardless of origins.

 

 

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