It rained on quite a few of the days we were away on holiday... and on one of the mornings we braved the weather and walked along the beach in a thunderstorm (mad I know...tell hubby that!) and got soaked to the bone! Normally we don't let weather bother us, otherwise we would never do anything, but this was HEAVY stuff and so we made alternate plans for the afternoon and decided to spend it at the cinema.
I had seen the trailer for "Inside out" and it had made it onto my list of films that I wanted to go watch. Luckily the Kino cinema in Rye was running it and so we booked some tickets and braved the weather (a second time).... and hoped we wouldn't have to sit all soaking wet throughout the film!
Some of you may have seen the film, but for those of you who know nothing about it ...
It's about a little girl called Riley who lives in Minnesota...she loves her life and when she has to move to San Francisco with her family she struggles to adapt to the changes that her new life brings.
Her emotional control centre (in the depths of her mind).... is staffed by five key emotions (characters). "Joy" is normally in the driving seat but is now struggling to help Riley adjust and with fellow characters - Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness she tries to lead Riley through the difficult life changing events that are taking place. Joy had always taken pride that all Riley's core memories were "golden" and joyful ..... and she worked hard to keep Riley upbeat and happy....
.....with only the occasional few, green, red, purple or blue memories that would come rolling in "bowling ball style" and get stored away for later recollection.
...But as the film progresses Sadness touches the memory balls and starts to turn the golden joyful memories blue and sad. When Joy and Sadness, literally get lost in Riley's mind, the other emotions have to keep Riley's head on straight until Joy and Sadness get home. Eventually as the film progresses, Joy comes to realize that rather than running the place herself, the other emotions have their rightful place and role to play in Riley's life experience.
I loved the film as it led you through the complex emotional processing that went on "behind the scenes" and in Riley's "subconscious"....... and as I watched the film, could see parallels in my own life and the emotional adjustments that have happened over the years in trying to come to terms with a different life with a special needs, disabled child.
Joy appeared to go AWOL for quite some time in my own life and only seemed to make the occasional appearance....
....and fear and sadness sat in charge of the control centre for quite some time.
... When Heni was a baby the fear would be......would this baby survive the night?..... will this fever go away? Will she be strong enough to come out of it? Will she eat and get enough nourishment?
...When she was a little older.....Do I leave her at respite or will she die while I'm not there? Will she go in to heart failure again?
...When she started school....Is she happy or bored? Are the teachers understanding her needs or are they just missing her little nuances that I pick up on. Am I going to get a phone call today and will it be bad new?
And even now.... How long am I going to have my precious girl with me and how will I cope when she eventually does get called home.
...For the things Heni couldn't do or experience....( and still can't)
...For the things that my other children often miss out on....
...For the way it effected and still effects our lives...and changes it from everyone else around us
...For the discomfort that I sometimes see Heni in and am not able to do anything about.
...For my own lack of ability to change life's circumstances and be Joyful ALL the time...
would creep in from time to time too.....the frustrations and difficulties needed to navigate through the mazes of ....
...Peoples lack of understanding
... People who park in spaces for the disabled
...The red tape to jump through with mountains of forms and unnecessary paperwork
... Wastage of resources by the varying organizations that provide ....care... hospice services...blue badges...transport...payroll companies... lack of public changing facilities to do basic hygiene care etc etc.
reared her head in the form of
...."I've looked after Heni's care payments for 18 years... how come now she's had a birthday someone has to come out and assess that I'm capable of doing it!"
....I've booked a weeks worth of oxygen so Heni can go on holiday .... but they only send enough for two days!
....A questionnaire arrives about how I feel about service provided....I fill it in and nothing changes.
...Another questionnaire arrives...I don't have time for this....stop sending me stupid questionnaires !!
Cue roll of the eyes in disbelief!
would show up back then, every once in a while when Heni
.... Would beam from ear to ear when I walked in the room
.... Would giggle when I tickled her
.... Would talk to me with her body nod for yes and a shake of the head for no.
.... Would give the most amazing hugs and get me in a headlock not wanting to let go....
or at least I thought that JOY went AWOL and only made fleeting cameos but as time progressed I learned bit by bit (and am still learning) more about what Joy looks like and notice more when she shows up......
A big "Ah ha" moment in the film (and favourite scene) is where both Joy and Sadness work together to control the panel and the memory that Riley experiences is a subtle mixture of the two... the "bowling ball" memory that comes rolling in has a tinge of gold and a tinge of blue.
That one scene was a powerful reminder to me that Joy has been there for me all along, even in the early days... she was just mixed together... perhaps overwhelmed with all of those other emotions.
At times I have tried to get rid of Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust thinking that they are of no use to anyone, after all it's natural for people to push away the discomfort of emotions such as sadness, grief and anxiety. Over the years I am coming to an appreciation that ALL of our emotions are useful and good and can be for a purpose to teach us many important lessons.
Just like in England we have four seasons and often experience them all on the same day.... we are able to sense a plethora of feelings and emotions that sometimes can appear simultaneously and perhaps seem overwhelming at times. However, imagine only ever experiencing JOY and nothing else....not knowing what any of the others felt like. What would you have to compare it to? Joy would not be so joyful because there was no Sadness to give it it's meaning.
Rainbows by Michael O. Adesanya
Rainbows would never be rainbows
If sunshine had never met rain
no one would ever need comfort
if there was not sadness and pain
but life holds both sunshine and showers
the days are not all bright and fair
so look through the showers for the rainbows
you will always find hope shining there.
So Joy never went AWOL after all... she has been there....either tinged with another emotion or sitting quietly in the background whilst the other characters taught me some self awareness and how to deal with life's emotional ups and downs.... and in the process learn the difference between the sometimes similar but confusing feelings that we can all have.
Anger has helped me fight some hard battles,
Fear has helped me to rely more on Faith,
Disgust has taught me that we are all human
and Sadness has hopefully taught me how to empathize more with others.
What I feel on the inside doesn't always show on the outside and I need to be more congruent with that... (something else to work on!!) but perhaps my venture in to special needs parenting and the adjustments I've had to make and learn through the years will eventually equip me better with that.... together with some much needed emotional intelligence!
How do YOU feel today?
Click here and here to learn more about the use of mindfulness to deal with difficult emotions.