Theatrical release poster, via Wikipedia.

I saw “Inside Out” this past Saturday, and beyond noting in general that it more than lived up to expectations (and to bring a hankie as well as being prepared to laugh, I want to tie it to sobriety.

It’s a truism, even if it’s not perhaps true for every single person, that our emotions can be all over the place in early sobriety. In 12-step programs, and in non-12-step counseling as well, you’ll often here counselors warn not to make any major life changes in the first year of sobriety.

The movie illustrates why. Removing the “cap” of alcohol or other drugs from our lives can be as much of an emotion-prodding ugly stick as can be a cross-country move for a young girl, the subject of the movie.

Beyond this, I related to the movie in another way. Some of us had more unhappy childhoods than others. My dad moved two years after my parents divorced; both my sister and I had been living with him. The move was from on-the-edges New Mexico, not chic Santa Fe, but a small town gateway to the Big Rez, the Navajo Reservation, to a high-dollar St. Louis suburb — one that we couldn’t have afforded unless living in campus housing at the graduate school and seminary my dad was attending for his Ph.D. Then, a year later, my sis moved back with mom.

As one of very few poor kids in a rich city, and otherwise not comfortable, I felt miserable, especially given that this was my senior year of high school. Then, one of my brothers and his wife visited us from back there. And, before they left, I had an emotional breakdown as big as the girl in the movie. (Note: years earlier, I started to do something else she started to do, but I’m not going to spoil the plot by telling you what.)

Unlike her parents, rather than support, I got a guilt trip about not caring about my dad’s emotions enough. In hindsight, after years of sobriety, a further look at my childhood, and a look further back at both my parents’ histories, this is not at all surprising, though that doesn’t make it any more comforting.

Anyway, the movie focuses on five “primary” emotions. I might have added either guilt or shame to the mix. But, the five it used were plenty good enough.

(Post by Steve S)