Monday, September 15, 2014

Cinema Therapy


I was raised to keep my feelings to myself. Burdening my father with my feelings and needs was simply not something I felt safe doing. The consequence was that I repressed my needs and feelings for so long, and so well, that I forgot how to know what I'm feeling. 

It sounds crazy, I know. How does one not know what she's feeling? You feel something and you name it. Easy! 

Unfortunately, sometimes, it just doesn't work that way for me. I can go very, very numb or feel fear only, for example, even when the appropriate emotion for most everyone else would be anger, or longing, or sadness, etc. 

It's because of this that sometimes I need a substitute situation to have feelings about. A scenario that is not my life, but resembles my life, that I can attach my feelings to and then I'll often be able to identify the actual feelings I am having and work through them.

Movies are one of the best ways for me to accomplish this. They're highly emotional and great for triggering. 

This probably explains why, from day one, I sought out movies about tragedy so I could make contact with my emotions obliquely. It was the way to feeling something. 

Lately I've been seeking out stories of loss so I figured I'd been trying to get in touch with some repressed feelings. So, I looked through Amazon Prime to find a humdinger. 

Get the kleenex ready, it's time to feel things!

I found this movie The Face of Love. I warn you. This one will hurt. In my case, that's exactly what I was looking for. If you're thinking of watching it now, too, spoiler alert in effect now...

Annette Bening plays a widowed woman who runs into a man who is a complete double for her dead husband and tries to have a relationship with him. When he finds out that she is with him just to recreate the love she had with her husband, they can't continue the farce. The movie then jumps to a year later when she finds out he has died, leaving behind a series of paintings he painted of her. 

I bawled. I sobbed. I cried out in pain. At first I was crying for the pain in the movie and then it shifted inside of me and I could identify it.

  I'm sorry! I wailed. I would've done anything to save you! I couldn't save you and you died! YOU DIED! I shrieked into the empty house. I cried into the bed, grabbing the blankets in my fists in utter helplessness. 

As I spilled out the hurt, I realized I'd been feeling guilty and hadn't been able to access it. Now I could. 

I've been feeling guilty for moving on and being happy and not being sad enough. I could name it, feel it, and move through it. Ah, cinema therapy. 

If you feel enough already, thank you very much, this one might not be for you. For me, it did wonders for clearing out my emotional storage files. 

I feel lighter now. I feel more connected to myself and as though I was honoring Dave by letting myself feel the pain his loss has left behind. 


  1. i lost my husband 3 weeks ago. I feel all the guilt.. maybe i should have done this or that or should've tried anything we did not to fight his cancer, hugged him tighter, kissed him the best way possible, spent more time showing how much i love him..

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my husband 13 months ago and I struggle with the same feelings of guilt. He died in my arms as I was turning caring for him. I would have done anything to save him. I hate cancer.

  2. Hello, I have always Ben drawn to old love stories... I will gv u a few to watch if u don't mind? These will rock yr heart..1, my foolish heart- Susan Hayward.. Backstreet- Susan Hayward, just these two will touch yr soul. Both times she looses, but has loved beyond her dreams.. I bought them yrs ago..then there's imitation of Life, Lana turner, oh my!...I watched these as a child.. When I grew up wanted to own them..and than there's my all time favorite, watch at least once a yr..Gone With The Wind..this particular movie after viewing it uncountable times had every lesson in Life there is to learn, abt Love and Survival...these 4 classics r go tos., when u need a fix or strength..every woman in these movies portrays great strength to go on when hit with DEATH...although they r movies, let's face it it's happened.. And then some..truly these movies have helped me thru my adult years.. Kinda therapy if u will..and they all survived their losses..although they r movies I knw they r based on real lives somewhere in a sometime...women surviving....

  3. dear Cassie,

    I am awed by the device you found to help you connect with your feelings, especially those that come with grief. cinema must feel like such a relief to be able to sort out the guilt and sadness, and to feel as though in doing so you are honoring Dave. I wish you continuing peace where you can find it...

    much love,


  4. Oh Cassie, you expressed so clearly what I've been trying to tell people I do for years, even before my guy died. I do it with books and tv shows and music as well as movies.Thank you!!!! And I'm glad, and amazed, that we can find ways to connect with those buried emotions and then, having connected, let go in time.