I read my writing aloud in public for the first time two weeks ago.
I began this blog a year and a half ago as a way for me to begin to break the silence and shame I felt inside.
You see, I grew up in an environment that encouraged me to suppress my feelings and my true thoughts. In essence, I learned to hide my truth.
Because of things that had happened to me when I was young, I was afraid that to speak my truth would bring pain to others in my family. I needed their love, so I learned very early on to present a version of me that would be pleasing for them and others. It was literally a matter of survival, keeping my truth hidden.
Additionally, problems in our family were not acknowledged verbally for the most part. We pretended to each other they did not exist. If it was something that absolutely could not be hidden, there was a real strong pressure to keep the family problems secret, to keep them inside the home. I was not verbally warned not to seek help. But I knew it was considered dangerous.
So I learned to keep my true self buried deep inside, hidden far away from my family, and from the outside world.
I got so good at it, I lost touch with my own true self. I had hidden it so well, it became hidden from even myself.
I am a performer, so I need to be able to use my truth to reveal the truths of the characters I play. I learned to go deep within, but I found that as much as I loved bringing what I could to my work, there were internal tensions that made it very challenging. And so I began to embark on unraveling those tensions, to see what was underneath, to find more freedom and to expand my capacity to reveal through my work.
It has been an amazing process. I did not set out to, but I have ended up finding my self in the process. I’ve been making a deep excavation within, bringing out the remains into the light.
It has been excruciating at times, terrifying, wondrous, exquisite, mind-blowing, beautiful, sad beyond belief. But most of all, it has been a becoming whole.
In the process of finding me, I discovered that I wanted to be able to own and share my truth without fear or shame. So I started to practice doing so.
First in small, safe ways. To trusted people. Then, I began increasing the risk level, expanding my level of comfort by extending myself into the world in ever-widening circles.
This blog has been a hugely gratifying experience. It has been so important for me share my true internal experience, my real creativity, here. There have been times I have felt so fearful after hitting the publish button…it has felt so risky…what if someone in my family reads it? What will they think of me? If people know this or that, will they see me differently? Will they judge me, label me, only see me this way or that?
I realized that I was so afraid of only being seen for what has happened to me or what I have done, the mistakes I have made, or what I have NOT done or accomplished. I didn’t have a sense of being valuable just as I am, not what I do, did, will do, haven’t done.
The blog and posting has been stretching me in so many great ways. It has also helped me learn to let go of needing to be seen a certain way in order to feel valuable, safe or lovable.
What I did not expect was how amazing it would be to have people read and then reach out to share back. That has been and continues to be such a gift. (So thank you.)
And then, I had the opportunity to submit a piece I adapted from a blog post for an evening of work written by women on what it means to identify as a woman.
When I began writing this blog, I had never, ever intended to read my work anywhere, but there I was, sending it in, in hopes of being chosen, so I could share my work live, in person. (What?!)
When it was selected, I was ecstatic. And terrified.
Every childhood-conditioned muscle in my body was braced for trouble. Every old voice that wanted to keep me silent was working on my psyche: Who was I to think I had something of value to share? What if I upset people? What if someone was unhappy with what I had to say?
In the week before the event, I was questioning my sanity in having chosen to do it.(What was I thinking?! Why was I putting myself through this?!)
The fear and the voices continued right up until showtime and as the first readers read their work.
And then, my name was called. My turn. I gathered together my courage and began the long walk down the aisle, my heart pounding in my chest.
And then three steps from center stage, I suddenly felt something click inside. When I stepped into the light, I just knew in my bones that I was in the right place at the right time. I felt a sense of home inside. I felt warm. I felt safe.
What an amazing experience! It was an experiment, but it turns out I love sharing my words live, and also experiencing the words of the others involved. Who knew?
I am so grateful to whatever healing force inside me has been leading me on this journey to be free. It is a beautiful thing to break free of the shackles of one’s own past and to be able to freely express one’s own self.
*(Written 10/17/17, but I used a draft from Oct. 1 and didn’t realize I needed to change the date before publishing it! So here it remains, looking like I wrote it Oct. 1. But I promise I wrote it 10/17/17.)