On Shame

I have been thinking a lot about shame.

Partly because I am only recently awakening to my own.

It is a new concept to me, and yet it has also been a part of me as far back as I can recall. I didn’t know that the sensations I had lived with for so long were actually a feeling, and not actually ME.

Sure, I had heard of it. Became a fan of Dr. Brené Brown years ago when her Ted Talk on vulnerability and shame went viral. (Brown’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world.) She is sort of the Queen of Shame and Vulnerability. She is also a fellow introvert. (And a fellow Texan.) Read more about her and her work here.

Brown says: “I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.”

Brown says she “became a shame researcher, because shame is the experience or fear of believing we’re not worthy of connection, and how people described their experiences of connection with me was by describing disconnection.”

Lately, I have been considering shame as being something that is getting in-between me and my desire to follow my talents as far as they can go into the world, as well as my desire to know and be known, to be intimate and have deep, meaningful relationships with people from a place of full authenticity. Once again, I am drawn to her work.

Again, in Brown’s own words: “One of the findings from my work that people get crunchy about is my belief that there’s no such thing as creative or not creative people. There’s people who use it, and people that don’t. I do believe – and this is where people get upset – that unused creativity is not benign. Ignoring that part of our humanity comes at a cost because, as you say, we are wired for creativity. It’s part of our DNA. My question is, if we are really wired to be creative, but people are not doing it, what gets in their way? So much of what gets in the way is shame.”

I have been at such a loss. I have healed so much of what stood in-between me and my desires, and yet still, I hold myself back again and again. So I am in a place now of asking what do I do about this?

Brown has developed the Shame Resistance Theory, or SRT, which she writes about in her book I Thought it Was Just Me, (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to I” am Enough”. [This article expands in detail on it.] What I take from it is that the way out is through vulnerability and connection, courage and empathy. Through recognizing shame and practicing critical awareness, recognizing our triggers, sharing our story with others, we grow our resilience to shame and develop empathy to build connection, courage and compassion.

Ah yes. So it will take more hard work and diligence. No magic pill, unfortunately, like the rest of this spiritual journey I have been on since birth and beyond. Great.

OK. I will dig deep and find the will to meet my shame head on. I have come this far. I am certainly not going to turn back now. Not sure yet what this will look like, but I am all in.

Who’s with me?

 #shamewarrior #theanswerisvulnerability

 I share my posts here.

 

 

Love Song

I stand here, on this rock,

Arms outstretched, ready,

Amidst tumultuous sea winds

Carrying voices from afar

I don’t feel safe I am too much I want to leave I call you out I am called out for calling you out

I am enraged I am ashamed

Don’t assign don’t degrade

I hear it all and my heart aches

I called it in to see and to hear

But there is something else

Yet to appear; it seeks an ear

It wants to be known

Will I hear it if I push away

The harsh voices that do harm

Where will they go if they aren’t heard

Crammed back into I am wrong This isn’t the place for this This isn’t the place for that

I called this into being

Can I now cherry-pick what comes my way

Or do I listen and guide

Find new ways of being with the parts that are the hardest to hear

I stand on this rock

My arms outstretched

And I listen again,

And I listen, I listen,

For all.

#evolution #healing

I share my posts here.

To Share Or Not to Share, That is the Question

I got called out today, by a classmate. A colleague, really.

And it got me thinking about something that I don’t like thinking about.

It is about my tendency to hold on to the really personal things from my life.

I crave connection and intimacy. I love to go deep. But there are some things that I keep for myself.

Now, I am an actress. And the kind of acting that I am interested in practicing and experiencing is deeply, deeply personal and requires of me that I get deeply, deeply personal. That I bring to it all of me, the good, the bad, the ugly.

I want and need to bring myself to my art. I truly do.

And I need to take care of the part of me that needs to hold on to certain things.

So how, you may ask, do I navigate these two needs?

I am figuring that out as I go.

See, when my classmate called me out today, she was basically asking that I be more forthcoming about the details of the things I am working on in class.

It is not that I am withholding. I know that. I am generous about sharing my experience, my struggles. When asked, I will give all I can.

When asked.

The tricky part is that there seems to be something in me that doesn’t feel the need to share about it otherwise.

My colleague’s desire to know more has filled me with questions. Some are new, some I have been kicking around for decades.

The truth is, I do not seem to have the same need to talk about my personal process. In acting, in life. I like to be in it, experience it. To talk about it feels so…empty and falls so short of the experience itself.

Is this because there is a young part of me still very much alive in me who was traumatized at age 6 and who has held on to that experience with her life, as if to put it into words means to give away the one thing she was able to retain during the ripping apart, the shattering apart of her soul into a hundred pieces?

Yes, that is for sure. I have always sensed this. But it wasn’t until two years ago after years of healing layer upon layer of wounds that I finally got to almost rock bottom and found this part. I was astonished and honored when she let me in and let me know her. I was so grateful when she trusted me enough to let me share her story with a trusted healer. It became my responsibility then (at least my adult part’s) to make her number one. To make her my priority. To make her feel safe and seen and attended to. And I have.

But, I have also wanted to begin to share myself more and more with others through my work and in my personal relationships. This blog has been a big part of a series of actions towards this end. And thankfully, this young part of me has trusted me through the process so far.

And I know, as far as I have come, there is more to go. And so when my colleague called me out, I knew that the time has arrived to go further.

Even writing this feels like a bit of a betrayal, but the adult actress in me also needs my loyalty, doesn’t she?

I also come from a family lineage steeped in “keeping a stiff upper lip”. “Not letting the neighbors see” the truth. A family of secret-holders with Olympian levels of the ability to deny and to pretend.

I have had to dismantle these inheritances within my instrument in order to be present in my life, as well as my art. In order to have meaningful relationships. To become intimate with myself and others. And I have done a great deal of hard work to get where I am today.

What is my responsibility to my fellow artists in this class? I mean, it isn’t about me accounting intimate personal details. That is just story. I have always told myself that I am personal through my work. Well, perhaps I need to get even more intimate with my work, then. Perhaps that is what I need to take from my classmate’s words to me.

Or is that yet a continuance of my ability to avoid really sharing?

How do I care for that part that needs protection from exposure and get deeply personal in my work? Do I have to share my process to be a generous artist? I thought I was generous. I do share in detail when asked. As a scene partner or a director, as a blogger, a storyteller, I am willing to go to the mat, to put it all on the line.

But otherwise, it feels a bit like chit chat or gossip or something. It feels like I lesson the importance of it in the sharing of it. And for that part of me, it feels like she is in danger of losing the one thing that she could hold on to when the trauma was happening. All those soul parts flew away. What remained was the pain and the horror, and those became new pieces of my self. The adult me knows that can never be hurt like that again. Knows that I do not have to give anything away like that again. The young part? I think she feels a loss in the sharing of it.

Do I need to share if I do not need to share?

I know in twelve step programs and group therapy, we do not just share for ourselves. We never know when we share our experience how it will help another. I know this, and have given freely in those situations.

I am not sure what do to as a result of her request. Or even if there is anything I need to do, or change. I am simply asking, digging, considering, examining.

Is my approach to protecting that part of myself limiting me as an artist? If so, then I really want to grow my ability to go beyond the places that are comfortable.

I sit with all of this, feeling a mix of sadness, of fear, of loss.

And, too, a feeling of gratitude for this colleague, for putting her need on the line, for taking the risk to ask more of me.

Perhaps I am ready to go beyond what I know about all of this. Maybe all the healing has brought me to a new place. Maybe the part who needs my loyalty is trusting that I will always honor the validity of her experience and keep her number one, forever, no matter what else.

Maybe this is what is known as wholeness, of integration.

I do not need to know all the answers today.

Today, I take my 6 year-old’s hand. I hold her on my lap and sing her a lullaby, and the actress/adult me writes this post and asks the Universe to show me the way through.

I breathe and I type and I sing and I listen.

#theartistsway #integration #healing #wholeness

I share my posts here.

 

 

In Passing

Today I passed an older resident on her way out of our building as I was coming in.

As I automatically prompted myself to say “Good morning,” I was aware of the conditioning that I learned growing up to respect those older than me kicking in, still, so many years later.

I was the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of two very stylish, very elegant women. I was taught, when with them and my mother, to hold the door for them to enter, or to step aside and honor their age. “Age before beauty!” was the motto that I learned.

I carry that in my system, alongside so many familial and societal conditionings. This one, I do not mind. I love it, in fact. I carry the tradition on easily.

As this woman passed by and returned my greeting with elegance and dignity and a public manner that is becoming extinct, I was moved, as I often am, by my sense of the world of experience that she carries within her.

I say becoming extinct, because the generation of my great-grandmother has passed away. My grandparents’ peers are probably almost all gone. Those of my parents’ generation do remain, but it is a fifty-fifty chance of whether or not they carried forward the kind of public demeanor and carriage that the woman has this morning. Perhaps she was my grandparent’s age. It is hard for me to gauge age. I feel eternally young inside, so often relate to others as if I am still that 14 year old. I passed her as if she was my Great-Grandmother. She was my Grandmother’s age, I think. Or maybe even my mom’s.

When I am her age, will someone pass by me and find something in my manner or expression that leads her to remember her grandmother’s generation’s “quaint” or old-fashioned ways? Or will I not even see her because I am still texting or taking selfies, even though I am sure in 20- 30 years those things will long-since been replaced by newer ways of communicating?

I wonder where such things are headed. What of my ways today will be no longer be observed on the whole when I am that woman’s age.

Will there be someone around my age now who appreciates the “old ways” as I do now?

I hope so.

I send her my appreciation in advance. I hope that when she passes me, we have an exchange, and she feels somehow touched by me on a deeper, human level.

#generations #customs #appreciation #olderpeoplerock

I share my posts here.

 

 

 

 

The Rememberance

When did I stop listening to – stop knowing –

The Truth that nature alone can claim

The wind is my sister

She reminds me who I am

The patterns in the ice are writ

With the wisdom of the waters

All I need to know, in the veins of a leaf

The trees are my elders

They council my concerns

Through birdsong, I am urged to sing

Especially after a storm

The stars are the map of a million once-human dreams

Mother Earth doubles my heart beat

And to her,  my body will return one day

To become one with the land

My spirit to roam free once again

With my sister, through the leaves of the trees

And the flowing waters of the streams

In the running cheetah’s strong shoulders

And the caterpillar paths ‘cross the garden green

Through roots running deep into the ground

To become a butterfly, alight on a delicate petal

To swim with the sea turtles among the corral in the seas

I am a part of it all and all is a part of me

When did I forget this heritage, this lineage, this communion

I breathe in all that has ever lived

And my breathe will be breathed by all who come after

May I remain awoken for evermore

May I never forget again

 

I share my posts here.

 

 

 

Hats Off

Disclaimer: This is a bit of a rant.

(Well, not really a rant. Perhaps more of a wistful call to arms.)

Remember the time when people only wore hats outside? Yes, I am dating myself. So I’m dating myself…

I was at a table read for a new play last month, and at a certain point, I looked around, and noted that 6 of the 11 people there had hats on.

Yes, it is a play written by a millennial and mainly contains of characters who are millennials, so it made sense that there were mainly millennial actors reading. And they were the ones wearing the hats.

You know the kind of hat I am talking about. Wool. Sort of a slouchy skull cap.

I just do not get it.

I have been in plays, in classes, in restaurants, and see people wearing their wool hats inside. Men, women. And not just millennial-aged adults. (Yikes. A 40-something-year-old man wearing a skull cap as fashion. Really?)

When did this become such an acceptable thing? Did it happen sometime after people started wearing their actual pajamas on airplanes? I still cannot believe that shift in social etiquette.

And going down to breakfast at hotels in your pjs and slippers. Is that really a thing? (I have seen it. So have others.) I mean, maybe for the toddlers and infants. But I am seeing teenagers and young adults.

Am I becoming and old f–t?

Sigh. I still dress up for the theatre. To go on an airplane. I don’t put my feet up on the backs of movie theater chairs. I hold doors open for people who are older than me.

Maybe I am just holding on to antiquated ways.

What are you wanting us as a society to hold on to? Any pet peeves you are carrying around in your bosom?

I do have a wool hat that I wear when it is cold, but I take that off when I get inside.

And I always will.

 

I share my posts here.

 

The Pleasure Principle

As can happen, a second word has found it’s way to me for the year.

I have been happily living through my deeply-felt word for 2019, which is CORE. (You can read about my Word for the Year practice here and my word for the year here.) Didn’t think or know anything was missing. I was perfectly content with CORE. CORE is a big ask! A truly great word for the year. I was content.

Until I was given an exercise by someone I am working with (a Desire Catalyst!) and I realized that yet another word had found it’s way into my life and demanded my attention. And that word is PLEASURE.

I was given a very simple task: make a list of ten things that create a experience of pleasure for me.

Let’s look at the definition of PLEASURE, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

definition: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment:
“she smiled with pleasure at being praised”
synonyms:
happiness, delight, joy, gladness, rapture, glee, satisfaction, gratification, fulfillment, contentment, contentedness, enjoyment, amusement, delectation
adjective 1. used or intended for entertainment rather than business:
“pleasure boats”
verb 1. give sexual enjoyment or satisfaction to:
“tell me what will pleasure you”

I totally get the definition. Yes, I know what that means. Sounds great!

Then I get to the synonyms. Whoa. Rapture? Glee? Gratification? Delectation?

Other than a few amazing culinary experiences and some lovely sexual activity that I have known on occasion, where I am finding that kind of PLEASURE in my life? In my day, even? And by finding I mean, where I am taking the time out of my day to seek experiences that are truly pleasurable? Uh oh.

Then I get to its use as an adjective. There’s a bit of a hint. How much do I allow myself to do out of a day that is not in some way associated with business. The business of acting. The business of the business of acting. The business of living. Of being. A lot of business and busi-ness in my life. 

Then I get to PLEASURE as a verb. Now, that is a whole other post for another day. Let’s just say, I am usually “too busy.” Or it becomes the business of being intimate. I mean, you can approach anything in a business-like way. Even sex. “Gotta fit it in.”  Not, I am going to take this hour and just play for pleasure. Nope, just another thing on my list of things to get done.

So what is up with that, I asked myself.

The good news is that I had no trouble creating a list.

That came pretty easy. Great! I have no trouble identifying things that give me pleasure.

The problem is that I have trouble giving myself the time and permission to actually let myself have or do them.

I had my list, and I looked at it, and realized that I rarely allowed myself the time to enjoy or do any of the things on my list. (And some of them were as simple as enjoying a glass of water!)

It turns out that I am fairly anorexic in the pleasure arena. I staunchly deprive myself of things that bring me pleasure. What does this mean exactly?

This Pleasure Practice idea seemed so simple.

Now I am realizing that I have a lot of unraveling to do. And simple does not always mean easy.

What comes up when I begin to give myself the time and space to choose one or two and commit to doing them for two weeks?

I was so overwhelmed at the thought of it! My Protestant forebears reeled back in rebuke. My Puritan roots bristled with disgust. A lifetime (and beyond) of judgement and condemnation rushed through my psyche, channelling all those familial, cultural, historical and societal influences that my ancestors lived through and that I was born into and surrounded by throughout childhood. Words flew across my mind like dark bats hitting the sides of a cave: glutton, whore, lazy, lowlife, no-gooder, disgusting, perverted.

You see, I come from people who believe that self-discipline and suffering are badges of moral merit. To live for pleasure — well, that would mean to be wasteful. My heart craved pleasure, but my cellular memory feared it.

So my Desire Catalyst suggested to just start with one thing on my list: I was to let myself enjoy one glass of water at 1 PM each day.

At the mere suggestion, something in me breaks, some dam inside that I had no idea was there, the dam holding back a thirst for pleasurable things. I cry a deep little cry as the realization follows that I have been living decades denying myself small simple pleasures in my quest for great things.

And then something else breaks through…and I know.

I have found my second word for the year. Or it has found me.

So here I go. 2019, the year of CORE and of PLEASURE. Just typing that makes butterflies in my belly. Who am I to want to have more PLEASURE in my life? I speak gently, but firmly to whomever asked that question within me: I am the person who is going to break this pattern of belief. I am the one who is going to blaze a new trail for all that came behind me. I am the one who is going to seek PLEASURE from my CORE.

I cannot wait to see where these two lead me.

#core #pleasure #wordfor20019

I share my posts here.