Friday, May 20, 2011

My Movie Therapy Theory

My hub took me to Hawaii for my birthday last week! For nearly two full hours!

We bought popcorn and soda and a front row seat, and when the lights went down . . . there. we. were.



On the North Shore of Oahu. Listening to the wind and the waves and the doves, and the occasional rush of traffic making its way down Kam Highway. It was all so familiar--the leis, the shakas, the ancient Hawaiian chants--and yet it was all so . . . unfamiliar. Like a dream. I once starred in. Before I woke up in bed with Utah.

You get me?

Not that I don't like sleeping with Utah, but being back in Hawaii felt like going home and it made my eyes sweat semi profuse-ish-ly, even though I wasn't home at all, but rather sitting in a movie theater watching Soul Surfer.

I told my hub I want to go home again. Like tomorrow. And I want to take all the kids home too. He said I should wait until home goes to the $1 theater, but I might sneak $6. 50 and slip away when he's not looking. (Or maybe I'll sneak $11.50 so I can buy another $5 hamburger behind his back on my way to the theater.)

Speaking of soul surfing, I have been doing some, and I've come up with a new theory. I'm going to start a new method of psychoanalysis called movie therapy, in which I will strap my patients into a recliner and make them watch movies all day long. Until they cry. And then I will ask them, "Who are you crying for? Are you crying for yourself, or are you crying for the character in this movie?"

If they are crying for themselves I will say, "Dude, you've got issues--grief issues, loss issues, pain issues, anger issues--yada yada issues." And then I would hand them a prescription and say, "Watch two movies and call me in the morning."

If, however, they are crying for the character in the movie, or for someone else they love, I will say, "Congratulations, dude, your grief/loss/pain/anger/yada yada issues have been alchemized into compassion."

Then I will give them a camera and send them out into the big wide world to make their own movies.

I was crying for myself while watching Soul Surfer. I mean, it's sad and all that that poor girl gets her arm bit off by a shark, but . . . well, you know . . . at least she still lives in Hawaii!!!

Am I right, or am I right?

I mean, you can't get bit by sharks in Utah!

Does that make me selfish? Or does that make me honest?

Since I'm being honest, I'm going to concede that I don't cry for myself in movies anymore. Very often. (Unless someone is getting bit by a shark.) I think it's because, as they say, time heals all wounds.

Or maybe because people heal all wounds, and love heals all wounds, and faith and hope and tears and forgiveness and work and effort heal all wounds. And movies, of course. And books. And music. And love. Did I mention love?

I have been emersed in all of these things over the years, so in a way, yes, time has healed all wounds. (Except the shark bite one, but that one is only 21 months old.)

If you've been reading me for a while you know that my dad shuffled off his mortal coil when I was 14 years old. His family still swears that he died of a broken heart, but his autopsy came back stamped with two letters: O.D.

Whether he meant to or not, he overdosed.

It wasn't like we didn't know about his addiction. I found his drug paraphernalia hiding in the basement bathroom when I was in 5th grade--the spoon, the matches, the needles, the syringes, and the tourniquet. Shortly afterwards a family meeting was called and my dad spilled the beans that he had been using.

Using. What an ugly word. But not as ugly as the action attached to the word. Not as ugly as the hours and hours he spent locked in the basement bathroom with that spoon and syringe while I laid in bed with my eyes wide shut, reciting Helen Steiner Rice poems in my head.

Oh my Heavenly Father, I come in humble prayer. Not to beg for miracles, just faith to not despair. If I fail to see your wisdom, give me faith to never doubt it. Help me bear the cross you send, and not complain about it.

Towards the end of his life my dad got sloppy. Sometimes he'd forget to lock the bathroom door, and I would walk in to find him shooting up. Or even worse, shot up. Sometimes he'd leave his stuff on the kitchen counter, amongst the fruit bowl and the salt shaker and the spatulas, as if they should all just get along and stop judging each other. He couldn't go long without a fix so waiting in line, like at the airport, or at the movies, became prime opportunities for him to slip into the bathroom or into the car to get slammed.

We always held his place in line, and he always returned with that look.

This look:

Until eventually he didn't return at all.

This is Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues, the story about Billie Holiday and her addiction to morphine. At 15 years old, this movie was like a tsunami rushing in, snapping the dam around my stone-cold heart and pushing it through my eyeballs with such force that I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. And sobbed. Until 3 a.m., when my eyelids were completely swollen shut.

I wasn't crying for Billie, I was crying for me.

But now, nearly 3o years later, if I watched Lady Sings the Blues again I would cry for Billie. And also for Billy, (which is my dad's name) because I'm guessing addiction is itchy, with a capital B. (And I should know, because I've been addicted to love.)

So anyways, that's how you know your pain has been alchemized, and it's time for you to start making your own movie.

P.S. Movie-therapy coming soon, to a theater near year. Let me know if you want buy tickets.


Alyson (New England Living) said...

LY, Crash! I love what you've done with your pain and I love the compassion that oozes out of you! You are my hero! Maybe, someday, I won't cry for myself anymore. I don't know if that day will ever come, though the crying for myself comes less and less.

I know what you mean about a place being home! Since we are in the midst of moving, I had a dream one night that we were moving to Utah. Did I say dream? I meant nightmare. I was so brokenhearted in my dream to leave my beloved New England. Then, I woke up, and realized we are moving into the heart of New England, not Utah. Yippee!

Garden of Egan said...

Ya know Crash, sometimes I just don't know if I'm going to laugh or cry when I come "CRASHING" in here. (get it?)

Today I cried.
Tears are good.

You are amazing. Your writing about your life as if it were everyday. I guess it was......everyday.

I've decided I need to make a movie of my life and throw the pity pills away, quit complaining cause there is no sharks in Idaho either......only gray skies and rain.

I lub you my friend. Can I call you that?


Vern said...

So what you're asking is, would I rather have an arm missing and live in Hawaii or have ALL appendages and live in Denver? I'm going to have to sleep on this one.

p.s. I'm always in awe of your ability to marry the funny with the serious. Your dad would be proud.

Sandi said...

You are awesome. and amazing. you make me laugh you make me cry- you make me dizzy ha ha I think I have a crush on you!
p.s. did you see the video on facebook of Kahuku graduation? It makes me wish I could go to school there. WHY did you move again?

Susan said...

I use movie therapy often.

You should write a book, about your screwed up childhood. I bet it would be a best seller. I would buy it.

Momza said...

My mom...well, my mom had her own addictions--and her addictions had her. They took away all of her talents and dreams; sucked up her time and pushed away her family and friends. I used to cry for me too, because I had no mother. Addictions are selfish selfish masters.
Movies are good therapy. So is writing. And prayer. Me and Helen Steiner Rice had a connection too.
God Bless Helen. And you too.

Martha said...

I gotta see that movie. The kids said it was great. When is your movie coming out? First do the book and then make a movie out of it.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Martha, you will LOVE the movie. It's really gooood. I always thought Rach should have played that part.

YAY for Josh getting the $1,000 scholarship, but boo for him not getting the $2,000 scholarship.

Momza, HUGS! LY!!

Susan, when I read your comment I was like "screwed up childhood? What screwed up childhood?" But on paper it does kinda sound screwed up. I just never thought of it like that. ha ha I could call the book Crash Test Dummy and her Screwed up Childhood. :)

Sandi, I think I have a crush on you too. So sad I won't be there when KK's baby is born. Shoots! I didn't see the video, but I LOVE Hawaii graduations.

Vern, you make me laugh.

Garden, YOU can always call me friend. YOU know THAT! LY! You will make a brilliant movie!

Aly, you are kinda my hero too. I thought of you while writing this. I think of you a lot actually. I hope one day you'll be able to not cry for yourself anymore. It's coming, but it will take A LOT of movies.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Is it just me or is there a typo in the paragraph where you state that your father spilled the beans that "we" had been using. Did you mean to say "he". But perhaps it was what you really meant to say, because really when one person uses it may seem like the whole family is because of all the side effects and ripple effects and ramifications to everyone's life.

Love you girl. You are the best. I still marvel at how people I met on the internet can be so supportive and well helpful to me. Love that about blogging.

Stephen said...

Wow! Interesting and painful. I don't know where to start. I must have blocked out a lot from my childhood or just have forgotten. I do remember one time when Dad took some of us to a movie with some of our friends and he was out of it. A normal reaction would be concern to see if he was okay, but I just remember feeling embarrassed. So that indicates to me that I must have had an idea of what was going on. If it had been mom I would have been concerned and tried to find out if she was alright. I am missing a lot of details that I may have not known how to deal with and just blocked them out. I know it was there and that he was gone a lot but it hurts me to know that it was so obvious to you and that you suffered so deeply.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Nutty, that WAS a typo. ;) Thanks for catching it.

Stephen, Star Wars, right? I didn't realize you were as unaware of it. I remember you asking him at the family meeting what he was using and he said "I'd rather not say."

Hey, my verifier says Sandi. How cool is that?

Sandi said...

VERY cool.

IWA (e - va) said...

The posting of your childhood memories, make me often wonder how much ive screwed up as a parent....

I think the line up should be Dakota fanning (teenage crash) ..Scarlett johansen (Young mommy crash), Julianne moore (grown up crash)...

or maybe even Rory and Loralei...
and maybe not just a movie.. your life sounds intriguing enough to last at least 7 seasons!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Haha Iwa, Scarlett Johansen? WOOOHOOOO! Let's do this thang! :) All 7 seasons. hahahaha

Dolly said...

Sign me up! I want the movie tickets for sure!

I saw Soul Surfer in Hawaii. I was in love with the scenery of the movie in while I got to be there. I'll go see it with you again in Utah to see if it's even more beautiful by being removed from it.

I also just got back from Seusical the Musical at Hale Center Theater. It has an amazing cast. Very talented and my eyeballs got very sweaty in a very compassionate way for Horton and Mazie but mostly Horton and I did find myself wondering if I was Horton. I think I need your psychotheatrical, analytical head shrinking. Your couch or mine?

Heidi said...

This post is a reminder to me that everyone has their pain and issues. Everyone. Some people have more dramatic stories than others but we all have pain and that's the way it's meant to be. Not to minimize yours in any way. Whilst I was reading this, I felt bad for you and your dad and your childhood lost, but mostly I could have cried buckets over missing Hawaii. I mean, who wouldn't? Especially when you are now in a place that is, er, well, NOT hawaii. So very, very not. Sob. (Does that make me shallow or just honest?)

Kazzy said...

I bet you do miss Hawaii. I miss it so much, and I have never even been there!

I like your movie therapy idea. Great thinking!

Just SO said...

I want a ticket for that movie therapy.

You, my friend, are amazing. Wonderfully, beautifully, amazing.