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.
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
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