Where the Wild Things Are is on ABC Family right now. I need to own that movie. I’ve thought so since I saw it in the theaters.
Aside from having an amazing sound track by one of my favorite female singers (Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), it is one of the most emotionally powerful, complex, and visually stunning movies I have ever seen. It was billed as a kid’s movie, but it has far more depth than what I ever expected. The movie is about growing up, learning about emotions, and understanding other people.
We are born with emotions, and it seems like they should be so simple to understand what they are and how they work, but it isn’t. Growing up we are bombarded by all of these feelings and reactions that we are simply not born equipped to deal with. We are given emotions but not the innate understanding of what they are and how to deal with them. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, we have to learn that others have emotions too, and we have to learn how to interact with those too.
Here is the thing: no one is the same, and every situation is different. Some of us are taught that emotion is dangerous, and we must hide them, or tightly control them. Sometimes we teach that there are acceptable emotions and unacceptable emotions. For some reason, people think anger is more acceptable than hurt or scared, so we teach our children to be angry. We teach our kids that vulnerability is bad and should be avoided at all costs. We teach them that real adults armor themselves, and any visible emotional reactions outside of set parameters is wrong and weak.
I’m not saying this is wrong. I still don’t understand to this day how to find that balance between feeling and letting feeling control us. I started my adult life by locking things down tight. I had serious depressive issues and, if I didn’t lock emotions away, they would overwhelm me. I had to be cold to survive. Even after that, I felt allowing too many emotions in made me vulnerable, and I feared vulnerability more than anything. The older I get, the more I understand my fear of being hurt and being locked down tight hurt me more than anything life had thrown at me. I realized that we survive pain if we allow ourselves to feel it and move through it naturally.
Now, as a grown ass woman, I am trying to navigate this amazing field of emotions, I didn’t figure out a way to deal with when I was younger. It feels like being crazy, but in the best way possible. I still have those old voices, though, telling myself to lock down any emotion and go forth. Those instincts to be a passive observer of my own emotions, to look at them with a clipboard full of notes, instead of feeling them, is still there. I still feel the shame at letting myself feel and not control. I just don’t know.
Which is healthier? Am I happier? I think I am. I feel batshit crazy sometimes, but when I feel happy, it is like when I am swimming under the water. I am hyper aware of every part of me and everything around me. When I am under the water, every sound counts more, I can feel my lungs, and the light through the water makes everything look different. It is a lot of emotion, and I am letting it effect my productivity. Should I lock it down?
I don’t know.
I also don’t know how we teach kids to understand what they are feeling and how to react in a healthy, productive way, without pulling from their emotions. How do you teach a child to see their anger is from being scared, and how to deal with the fear? I’ve known adults who couldn’t see the distinction, and let the anger reign. Can we tell kids that they will never fully understand emotions, but they have to try? I mean, that is the point of it, is trying to understand emotions as they come. At what point do we stop putting all the emphasis on control and start trying to understand? I’m thirty, and I don’t know when I should control and when I should feel. I’m barely past the protecting myself against all pain part.
I just don’t know. The simple things rarely are simple. I’m not ready to quit trying to understand yet.