One of my favorite scenes in a movie occurred in the film Julie and Julia. The gist of the film is that a young woman decides to cook every recipe from Julia Child’s Art of French Cooking book. At one point she realizes that she may have taken on a challenge that is more daunting that she expected. Her frustration level rises to a point where she ends up thrashing and screaming on the floor of her kitchen while her husband patiently looks on without reacting. It seems that he knows her well enough to realized that her hissy fit is momentary and soon enough she will return to being a warrior.
I love this part of the movie because it totally reminds me of myself when I hit a brick wall. I find a safe place in the privacy of my home and let my frustrations range freely. I might look like a lunatic for a brief time, but once I have let the poisons out of my mind I become invincible just as Julie did in the film. Through the many challenges of my lifetime I have initially emoted like a madwoman, but I always return to a rational state and determine what I must do to stay the course of my life.
I suppose it would be better if I never lost my cool, but I don’t seem to be wired like that. My main go to spot has always been an empty room far away from other humans. Now and again I am so emotional that I let loose in front of my husband, but my crazed feelings rarely go beyond those parameters. Thus most people see me as a totally calm cool and collected individual. In the few instances that I have let down my facade, things have not gone well.
The movie scene reminded me that anger and frustration are as much a part of our human experience as kindness and rationality. Balancing the two can be tricky depending on the situation. Allowing the indignation to come to the surface often has the power of motivating, especially when someone insinuates or states their lack of confidence in someone.
Michael Jordan loved to tell about the time when he was not chosen for his school basketball team. He channeled his disappointment into practicing until his skills became engrained in his muscle memory. Stephen King was rejected so many times that he threw a manuscript in the trash. That piece of writing became his first published book, Carrie, and jump started his amazing career. History is replete with tales of frenzied failure followed by undaunted determination that eventually led to success.
When my mother first became ill with bipolar disorder I was a shy twenty year old lacking the confidence to even try for a driver’s license. After a total meltdown of tears and rage I knew that I had to pull myself together for her. I would transform into an adult almost overnight. I spent the next forty years of my life caring for her whenever she became ill. I found a strength inside me that I never knew was there. I think that I had to endure my fit of despair before I was able to determine a plan for believing in myself and helping her.
Such has been the pattern of my life. I felt so lost when my father died. I held a pity party for myself and then remembered the things he had taught me. I set aside my childish feelings and worked hard to be the person he had challenged me to be. Later when my high school principal informed me that he did not belief that I would make it in accelerated classes, I went into a slow burn. I stewed only briefly because I knew that I would have to work hard to prove myself and I did. I felt that I had honored my father who always told me never to settle for being less than I had the power to be.
There have certainly been times when I wondered if I had finally met my match. Some of my experiences have been so painful that I have sobbed in unrelenting despair. For some reason I never stay that way for long. I consider ways to deal with my problems and always pop back up from the dangers that seemed to be drowning me. I find strength over and over again. Just as I believe that most people do.
I would like to believe that I will continue to overcome disappointments and life changing events meant to tear me down. So far my routine of admitting to my own frailties in an emotional outburst, followed by creating a feasible plan has always worked for me. I wonder if one day the provocation I face will be too much. I have witnessed situations that seem unbearable to me like losing a child to murder or enduring war. Still I think that somehow I will find that steely side of myself even in dealing with such horrors. It just may take me longer to reach a point of moving forward.
None of us should have to always be brave and perfectly behaved. We will each find ourselves in horrible situations that bring a well of sorrowful and angry feelings to the surface. We would do well to find a safe space for letting them out so that we will not hurt anyone in the process of owning those feelings. Then we will hopefully be able to reach back inside to find our invincible selves. One thing we humans have in common is that we don’t like being told that something is impossible.