Inside Out, Brene Brown and Pandora’s box

misty stairs


Mr and I watched “Inside Out” last night. We do this often, watch a kid’s movie checking to see if it is a good one to share with our girls. So we settled down for fun night in, totally unaware of what we were in for.

I cried the whole way through.

“Inside Out” opened me up and laid me bare. Or maybe Brené Brown’s Rising Strong has been doing the work all month and the movie was the final cut of the scalpel. Either way I ended up a blubbering mess with my innards laid out in front of me.

You see I have always been a person who felt deeply. I have always been a person who cried in movies and the news; who hid under the blankets for things that provoked fear; and celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm. I have always been a person of emotional extremes.

But now I’m not. I am reading Rising Strong and I am reluctantly owning my emotions and examining them as part of the process but if I am brutally honest that is just surface stuff.

Something happened when I had my miscarriages, something happened in that time of immense grief, and while I have dealt with that, there is a residual habit that continues. I avoid feeling deeply. I don’t want to ever feel pain that deep again, so I avoid it. But in doing so I also avoid deep joy. Oh, I’m happy, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t feel anything as deeply as I used to, good or bad.

And what’s more I have measurements. Like the character Joy in “Inside Out” I find myself standing at the console trying to manage my emotions. I am attempting to manage the day so that there is a requisite amount of good memories banked, and avoiding all others. And not only am I doing that for myself, but I am also trying to manage the emotions of my family. Keeping tabs on each of them, I see it as my duty to make sure that they have overwhelmingly good memories from each and every day.

As I bawled and bawled last night, I realised how tired I am. How very tired I am of trying not to feel. How very tired I am of trying to “process”.  Which is a deceptive word that sounds useful but in reality for me is my way of rationalising my emotions. It is my way of avoiding sitting with them. It is my way of avoiding feeling.

I think that’s why Cambodia got to me. I couldn’t help but feel, though I tried. For two days I rationalised and processed until I finally saw something I couldn’t explain away any more.

Bam – feelings!

And yet even through my tears last night still I hesitated. Because I know how many surface feelings have been going on. I know how much sadness, fear, disgust, shame, and even joy is closeted away in a veritable Pandora’s box. I know how much feeling I have been avoiding. I know how much feeling will need to wash over me, when I open it up. And I’m just not sure I’m up for that.

Honest, brutal truth everyone,

This is my journey today,


Brené Brown on owning our story

One thought on “Inside Out, Brene Brown and Pandora’s box

  1. wow Jodie! If I were a psychologist is say you’ve had a major breakthrough.

    I think that as Brene says trauma robs us of allowing us to feel vulnerable.

    I remember about two years ago I felt joy. Not happiness. Not a sense of well-being, but joy. I was as CS Lewis said surprised by joy.

    Then something happened that took the joy away.

    I self-protected and squashed feelings again.

    It’s only been recently I’ve been feeling joy. It’s not as sudden, surprising or uncertain. It’s more an abiding joy.

    I’m not sure why, but I think it’s got a lot to do with the work we’ve been doing with Brene.

    I think I’m a lot like you. I cry at puppies, ads, The Notebook… But when my nana died, my mum, my father-in-law I hardly shed a tear. I just dealt with the funeral details etc.

    What you’ve written makes a lot of sense.

    You’ve synthesised it really well.

    Wow! Maybe I’ll have to watch Inside Out now and work trough some more emotions!

    Thanks for your vulnerability. Xx

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