I had heard loads about it and read various reviews, especially by bereaved mothers who had found it brilliant and I was curious to watch it and form an opinion myself.
The plot is deceptively simple: a little girl, a life changing move to the big city, the emotional turmoil that follows, all seen from inside out, through the prism of her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger.
But the movie is far from being simplistic in the message it tries to convey: emotions make us who we are and that by trying to repress one or another, we end up ruining our whole system of reference and risk to become emotionally dead, like the little girl does, for a short while.
As bereaved parents, we watched the movie through the lens of our loss, of course.
We heard things that made sense to us, in our grief, things that the non-hurting individual watching the movie might as well have passed as good punch lines or just wee jokes. To us, those things have been reality for the past year and a half.
We saw in the desperate attempt to push away Sadness from any position of power or authority in the internal system, for fear of “contamination”, the very same lame attempts to “prettify” life people approached us with when Georgie died.
Sadness is not a welcomed emotion in our society, the movie seemed to say, and its place has been declared to be a circle, a chalk sign on the pavement, from which Sadness cannot reach, nor contaminate us.
Only, the thing is, Sadness did seem to have a pretty big role in Life, as reality would have it. Joy, as much as we would love to have it in our lives as a constant, is simply not the only emotion we will ever experience in life. Life is much more complex than that…
For a while, Joy and Sadness get lost in the mayhem, when the major events of moving home and state take place and the following loss of identity occurs.
For a while, other emotions are left in control, like Fear and Anger and Disgust.
Oh, I recognise them all so, so well…
I have lived them all, at the highest intensity, since I lost my boy.
You have all been my witnesses and judges: I have been angry, I have been fearful of the future, I have been disgusted with people’s reactions and the way society denied me the right to feel all these negative emotions and speak about them openly and honestly.
I know too well that even now, after so many months of pouring my guts out and trying to educate people on what grief really feels like, I am still being judged as:
- the nevrotic
- the church wrecker
- the messer
- the bold one, and not in the good sense of the word
- the unsympathetic
- the big mouth
- the lunatic.
My husband still gets told, even to this date, that I should be kept in check, that I have no consideration for the “holy”, that he would be better off without me…
It takes a kids’ movie to convey a BIG truth: that emotions need to be felt, that people who are hurting need to be allowed to feel those devastating emotions, that Joy and Sadness take the back seat when an emotional tsunami hits and that the only way, the ONLY way for the sanity to return, for that healthy balance of Joy and Sadness to be reinstated is to face those emotions and let them, for a while, for as long as it takes, reign.
It is not pleasant to see, it is not “holy” as people have declared holy to be but guess what? It is the only way to return to normality in the long run and it is, dare I say, the healthy way to face devastation. Reaction, no matter how dramatic it is, no matter how angry or fearful or annoying aesthetically or socially, is the only way to show that life is still streaming through the system.
I have been told I am stubborn in my grief. That I am unforgiving. That I like to wear it as a shield.
I have chosen none of the above myself.
I have followed the river of sorrow, I have ridden it as it came, angry and flooding my values and senses and my core being. I have done grieving in the only way it can be done.
Now, after all what used to be has been burned to the ground, now that there is nothing left of my former life, now that my emotions are spent, now I can start rebuilding.
The movie gave me hope, as in the end, all emotions had learned to coexist harmoniously and in the background, new memories had taken shape and the internal world was orderly again. A new order. A new world.
I know that I am on the brink of a new life myself.
I have felt the change come over me and although anger, disgust and fear still play and will continue to play a big part in my daily dealings with life, I do feel that in the background, Joy and Sadness have made a pact, to co-exist and draw strength from each other.
Have you watched the movie? What were the deep messages you got from it yourself?