Inside Out

“The structural decision to do without a villain, and ultimately to do without one of the easiest elements to make entertaining and marketable, means that the process Riley is undergoing — adolescence — is visualized as … normal. Her mind is not a space that’s been invaded by something that must be driven out, but a new environment to be mastered. And if other kids’ stories are there to teach kids how to be brave when they see witches and giants, Inside Out is there, maybe, to teach them how to be brave when there’s no witch and no giant, but things can feel broken anyway.”

Linda Holmes, NPR

Today, Robby and I saw Inside Out. If you haven’t seen it, go see it.

Seriously.

I’ll wait.

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.

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So, assuming that you watched it, I’m now going to talk about it, so if you haven’t seen it, go see it now, cause otherwise I’m going to blow the plot for you.

*Spoilers*

In the movie, a young pre-teen girl (Riley) starts to realize that her days aren’t just filled with joy any more. That she is growing up. But her mom–in an off-hand manner–asks her to keep being her ‘happy little girl’. So when Riley starts struggling, she begins to hide it, and that’s when her emotions get out of whack.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Through all sorts of adventures by her little inner-emotion cartoons, Riley starts to lose parts of who she used to be. When those pieces of herself start to be lost, she stops being goofy, she withdraws from her parents, she cuts off her friends, and she abandons the sport she has loved her whole life. In a desperate attempt to try and find herself again, she decides to run away, back to a place where she was happy.

Through all of this, Joy has been desperately trying to keep Sadness at bay, to keep Riley from being sad, but Riley is so mixed up that she ends up not being able to feel anything.

She goes numb.

Until Sadness steps in.

When she was a child, Joy had always been able to cheer Riley up, but she can’t go from feeling numb to feeling joyful. She has to feel the sadness. The pain.

Because it’s part of life. It’s normal.

It’s not fun, but it’s normal. And as she realizes that the different emotions can mix and form new emotions, Riley rebuilds the pieces of herself.

Riley’s Personality Islands at the beginning of the movie

To be honest, I cried a lot during this movie. I remember those days of joy as a kid, and I remember feeling my world fall to pieces. And going numb. Except that I was numb for years. I didn’t get to rebuild thepieces of myself right away like Riley did. I didn’t start learning about those ‘new emotions’ until I was in my twenties.

And seeing the childhood that most people had, the emotions that they went through just hurt so much. Because it’s not fair. It’s not fair what I lost, what I missed. My personality ‘islands’ broke and I was just blank for years.

Riley’s Personality Islands falling apart

My ‘Friendship Island’ turned into ‘Distrustful Island’. I shut down my ‘Athletic Island’ because people kept making fun of me whenever I would do anything athletic. And my “Girlie Island’ was completely buried under self-loathing and fear of attention. I used to love to wear pretty dresses and jewelry, and having my make-up put on for dance recitals was so much fun, but once that island broke, I ran from all of that. I couldn’t bring myself to be a little girl anymore. I hid behind baggy boys clothes in dark colors. Nothing bright, nothing that would draw attention.

And I want to open those islands back up. I don’t necessarily want to dance on a stage like I did when I was 5, but I’d like to have the confidence to take a Zumba class now and then, because I genuinely enjoy it. I don’t want to be so afraid of ridicule that I don’t go to the gym on the off-chance that other people will be

Riley’s re-built personality islands at the end of the movie

there. And I’d love to be girlie sometimes. Maybe wear a pretty hair clip. I’ve always wanted to dye streaks of color, like blue or purple, into my hair, but I’ve never had the courage to do it, because it draws attention, and that’s something I am so afraid of.

I know that life isn’t all Joy, and that’s okay. I just want to rebuild myself.

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Trying to Let It Go

It has been several months since I last wrote.

EMDR has been going well. Hard, but well, and I’ve been feeling extremely overwhelmed. We’ve been dealing with a multitude of very heavy subjects, from adoption decisions to financial struggles, and it has really worn me down. I know I haven’t been taking care of myself like I should, and not writing falls into that category. Ironically, the things that help me cope, like writing, are the first things I let slip when I am struggling. I will withdraw withing myself while simultaneously neglecting my personal needs. Usually, I will just keep slipping, slowly going downhill until I reach a breaking point before I can finally break out of the negative cycle.

But I am trying to remedy that.

I want to heal. That’s why I started this entire blog. This entire journey, the EMDR, all of it. And I guess part of healing is learning to recognize and address my negative cycles, and I think the first step is starting to write again. When I get to the ‘self-neglect’ stage, it’s like I come up against this inner block. It’s not that I don’t want to write, because I do. Desperately. But there is just this wall I seem to hit inside that won’t let me feel anymore. Like I’ve reached my feeling quotient and I have to stop.

Have you seen the movie Frozen? Elsa is trying to run from something inside of her and she says “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”. When Rob and I saw that movie in theaters I had to work really hard not to cry because her words were exactly what I have been feeling. I don’t want to, but it’s as if I am full and can’t take anymore, and so I just start to shut down.

But I need to do what Elsa does and let it go. I need to be okay with the fact that people know that I am a broken person. It’s part of what makes me who I am, and I want to be (am trying to be) proud to share who I am. Because I want to see what I can do. I want to let it go.