I went and finally saw that Pixar movie, “Inside Out,” over the weekend. The girls and I went with our friends in Milwaukee and their three boys. I was surprised at how much it moved me. Of course, it’s been a rough summer and I’ve been introspective, and that usually means I’m feeling things and don’t want to admit it. So I’m sitting in this sweet movie, crying because of the feels – the feels! Crying so much that I can feel my lips trembling, and the rational, distant part of me going. . . wow, guess you needed that. But it must be a split sex thing – the boys and one man were not as impressed. All of the girls, young and old, lost it at least a little.
For me, it hit a chord because it’s about a girl who moves from one state to another and the turmoil she feels, though she tries to hide it. And it deals with how you can feel such joy and such sadness at one event, something I am very familiar with. The duality of emotions. In my present existence, I find that my oldest girl’s slow journey through puberty brings back memories of my own about that duality. We have a lot of talks about feelings and emotions – simply because they are not all good or all bad, and I want her to know how to deal with them effectively.
In middle school and high school, I was close with my one friend whose birthday was the day after mine. She was 364 days older. She loved horoscopes and Billy Joel and Elton John and would tell me how my behavior was that of a Cancer – and she was Cancer too. Certainly in my teens, I was shy, withdrawn, intensely passionate but intensely private – I wanted no judgement. I was afraid of being seen as I was, flawed and imperfect. I am still flawed and imperfect, but my desire to connect on a deep level trumps any fear I may have. Plus, having already endured hell, there’s the part of me that thinks, “What could anyone possible do to me that I haven’t already done to myself?”
I work with a lot of intelligent, rational people – more men than women, but the women are rational too. And you know what I find? Rationality does not preclude emotions. Some of the angriest and most bitter people I have ever met are men – men whose hearts have been broken, people who let themselves be vulnerable, and they were let down. Women and men may express their sadness or disappointment differently, but we are all human. Being mature and a grownup doesn’t mean that you feel nothing – it means that you channel your emotions in healthy ways. We all want to be known and accepted as we truly are – full of goodness, but imperfect.
When I was aching over the end of my first love, a man who was a consummate artist but also happened to be gay (!), I finally asked him, “Why did we ever get together? Did I. . . seem like a boy?” He laughed, “No, you were and are the most feminine person I have ever met.” My reaction was one of anger, because I equated femininity with irrationality and emotions that had no justification. I didn’t want to be like that. Then I was confused, because hey, why would a gay man ever love me? It was just so odd.
Nowadays, the best compliment I can ever receive is one on my thinking and intelligence, though of course, I also want to be sexy in a geeky sort of way. I feel this churn inside of me – I love talking about physics, metaphysics, religion, spirituality and I still want to be wanted in that animalistic way. I want to be hot in someone’s eyes, and then I feel guilty, because that should be below me. But humans are that way! Even the uber intelligence in men I adore is tempered by their base (i.e., dirty :)) side. And rationality is tempered by. . .well, all the emotions that make us human.
I feel like I still don’t know myself – so I could I know anyone else? Life IS this – the confusion, the chaos, passion and grace, thinking and fitting puzzle pieces together. I am continually fascinated and in love with my friends, my children, souls somber and flaring – I can’t even really capture it in words. But I am happy to still have a heart that can be moved by a good movie, by a full moon, by a heartfelt hug. We want to be great and important; but life is made of a thousand mundane moments. We only see the backside of the tapestry.