Last night, I did something highly questionable. In the midst of this unprecedented global pandemic, when my emotions are already up and down like a kid on a swing set, I decided to watch Becoming, the Michelle Obama documentary on Netflix. I knew I was setting myself up to be a puddle of tears. I knew I was wading into dangerous emotional territory. But I took that risk anyways, and damn, was it worth it.
My first round of water works came not four minutes into the doc. The scene in question, the one that reduced me to a liquid form of myself, was one in which Michelle was backstage before her first book tour stop. Her chief of staff, Melissa Winter, was really emotional about the day, and she was definitely trying to hold it together in front of the former FLOTUS. Michelle saw that she was struggling and said, “You don’t have to keep it together. You can cry your eyes out.” Simply put, it was over for this hoe (me). As silly as it sounds, that small interaction made me remember that it’s okay to feel however you feel in whatever moment you’re in. And right now is a great time to be reminded of that.
Once I decided to give myself over to the power of the doc, I went on a journey through almost every single emotion on the human spectrum. Like, when a little girl went up to Michelle at a book signing and was so overwhelmed she could hardly speak, I was reaching for the tissues. When they played clips of Barack talking about Michelle, I was in awe of the admiration the two of them so obviously have for each other. While watching archival footage of people in the streets of Chicago chanting,” Yes we can” on election night 2008, I was hopeful that someday our country could get back to that place. And when Michelle looked a high school student in the eye and told her that her story mattered, I was practically applauding (but through more tears, of course).
For those of you who have already read Michelle’s book, this documentary won’t hold that much new information. It will, however, make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, which is maybe even more important right now. In a time where pretty much everything feels uncertain, it’s nice to hear from someone as reassuring as her and those other members of her family we love so much. The clips from her book tour, weaved in with new interviews and behind-the-scenes shots, serve as both a pep talk and a shot of serotonin injected directly into your bloodstream.
Watching Becoming was a roller coaster ride, yes, but it was also the perfect opportunity for me to ugly cry through what’s happening in the world outside my house right now. To Michelle, I have only this message of thanks:
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