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.

 

 

For Laura

I know some incredible women.

It is one of those women’s birthday today.

Some people just blow you away. Laura inspires me daily. She is an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. A leader. A teacher. An activist. A community contributor. An active citizen.

She lost her 20 year old brother to suicide in 2000. Rather than fall into despair, she has used her grief to create, educate, help and heal.

Read about one of her creations, Arts & Dreams, and the incredible work they do here.

Enjoy her art work here.

Laura reminds me to live creatively, lovingly, with ample doses of self-forgiveness.

I am so lucky she was born and that I know her.

She Is
Scarlet lips
Piercing chocolate eyes
Portals who see your soul
Lives in brush strokes
Of love and thoughtful heart
Colors rich with knowing
Midwife of self-love
Earth angel saving
wretched alone-hearts
One mantra at a time

Clown School Daze

Today marks the completion of my five week clown and commedia extravaganza.

I am not the same person that I was five weeks ago. I am different in ways I don’t even comprehend yet.

I am exhausted in the best of ways having truly spent myself each day.

In clown, if you let yourself, you open up like a little flower.

I fell in love over and over again with my fellow clowns. My heart broke open daily and then expanded several sizes and is bursting from my chest.

The world is shinier. I hear music everywhere. I make up little songs.

I carry the moments of courage, of tragedy, of brilliance, of mess, of genius, of laughter, of wonder, and of the amazing live theatre we made together these weeks with me forever.

I found out some very important things along the way.

I am too tired to try to articulate them today. I know they will be revealed in my future work.

I am sated, for the moment, and I celebrate these weeks.

My appetite will return.

But for today, I am sated.

And grateful.

How to Move a Mountain

Every time I start a new project, I am terrified I will not be able to do it.

Every. Single. Time.

This terror is not my initial response. My first response is elation. Excitement. Passion. Thrill.

This is a delightful and short-lived phase of my process. Much sooner than I would like, the excitement and celebration morphs into abject doubt and fear.

Suddenly, I am overwhelmed by the work ahead of me. My mind makes it all seem like an enormous mountain that I am at the base of, seemingly without any equipment or wherewithal of how to surmount it. It is like some weird fog of “forgetting” comes over me and seduces me into believing that:

  1. I do not have any business embarking on this endeavor, and
  2. I do not have a clue as to how to do anything.

I am grateful to have a partner in life, my husband, who very fortunately has borne witness to my process over and over again. (He was actually the first person to point it out to me.)

While his reminder to me that this is “just a part of my process” does not in any way change my process, it does allow me to find somewhere within the knowing that “this too shall pass.” The knowing that this is not the end of my process. That this is actually letting me know, in a way, that I am on my way. As in, the fear and doubt kick in because I am entering into my creative process. It is a sign I am doing what I love.

That knowing makes moving through that phase a bit easier. Then I can recall, if need be, that I have felt this doubt and fear every time in the past. I can reference back and remember that every time in the past, I not only survived, but that I even succeeded in accomplishing what I took on in the end.

Awareness is everything, they say. That I have found to be true. If only awareness erased the anxiety! But I have found that only action alleviates the anxiety (to some degree.) I am lucky to have learned that as well.

My antidote to the fear and doubt is this: when it sets in, as it always will, I make sure to start the work right away. I begin the work NO MATTER WHAT, and as soon as possible, and I continue to work at it daily. I do it in chunks, and in this way, I navigate the treacherous waters of the part of me that wants to interfere with my creative endeavors.

The part of me that Steven Pressfield writes about valiantly fighting. If you are not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and check him out. His books have been invaluable to me in my learning how to work with myself and my resistance.

And so I prevail. Not in spite of the resistance, but alongside it, through it, with it.

I am writing this as a reminder to myself as I have just begun a new project and after being very excited about it for a day or two, just about an hour ago, I got really scared and filled with doubt.

What the hell was I thinking? I cannot do THAT! I am not equipped. I cannot handle it. Reasons flood my mind as to why it was a bad idea. Dread filled my gut.

So what did I do? I took two actions in support of the project before I could fall into paralysis or start dreaming up ways to get myself out of the commitment. And I am writing this. And I am feeling somewhat better.

The jitters and the fear are still there, just waiting to take over. But for today, I have held them at bay and given more attention to my work. And somewhere in the mix I feel inside, there is a knowing.

After all, this is all just a part of my process. I am right where I supposed be.

The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt June 10, 2016: mountain

Morning Glories

As I wrote the other day, I am currently in a five week-long physical theatre intensive, including clown and commedia.

One week in, and I am joyfully astonished (and exhausted.) My face and sides ache from laughing. My mind has been blown repeatedly by the beauty of the other souls that daily become more and more alive as the class progresses. My heart has expanded and feels raw and tender and open in new ways. Many tears have fallen, from joy and wonder, from deep wells of sadness that come as old rusty parts of my soul are freed from their societal binds.

You see, clown is about exploring the four year-old inside. The little one you were before socialization caused you to “grow up” and be serious.

Before the body forgets to play and becomes blocked by The Block of Cool (as in, gotta be cool, man — gotta suppress this or that to be one of the cool kids.) The Block of Nice (Gotta be a good girl/boy if you want anyone to like you.) The Block of Polite (Gotta be polite to fit in and be a part of society.) The Block of Being Appropriate (Gotta do what everyone else is doing no matter what or you’ll stand out and the bullies will see you or you will be humiliated.)

So as we’ve been playing this week, we’ve been getting up underneath our adult skin suits and back into the wonder, the joy, the big, messy fun of acting with enthusiasm, leading with our hope, and the desire to have fun and make others laugh with us, at us.

It is an honor – a gift – to see someone’s unadulterated humanness. To really see who each person is underneath all the tricks we’ve learned to protect ourselves.

I am blown away by the exquisite beauty and brilliance of each person in the class.

Down the street, one of the buildings has some flowers blooming on part of it’s front wall. There’s a beautiful cascade of what looks like lilac that I was drawn to the first day during lunch break. What I did not notice then is that alongside the lilac are morning glories. (They were not blooming that first day.)

But the second day of class, I walked by the storefront again, and there they were, in all their, well, glory!

I was floored and just stopped and stared in wonder.

Then the next day, they were gone! (Upon closer inspection, they were there, but had withdrawn back into their tightly wrapped buds.)

The next day, half were out again, the others were in different states of the bloom process.

The flowers’ journey seems to mirror our class. We are all at our own different states of “bloom” in our work of rediscovering our unsocialized selves. We all have started the class in different places, and we will end in different places. But along the way, we are all blooming at different times. And sometimes, we are each beginning to show ourselves out in full bloom. It is astonishing to witness.

I cannot wait to see what will bloom next week.

6F6WTxRBRmi9aEOdGcOOWg

Places!

she stands still

listening to the audience

beyond the curtain

seated out past the stage

there’s a drone, a buzz

there’s a fish swimming in her belly

heart pounding

blood feeling electric in her veins

the adrenaline rush of excitement

that familiar moment of panic

will the words be there

will her body remember the moves

then comes the moment of hush

as the lights dim to black

the exquisite agony of the few seconds before

the curtain rises

then she glides out

enters into the sacred

and the ride begins

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: swallow

Messy Is As Messy Does

Messiness has gotten a bad rap.

From childhood on, I was taught to value tidy and clean over cluttered and dirty.

Being seen as a “mess” is something to avoid at all costs today. There is shame in being seen as messy.

Look at any social media feed. Selfie taking has been developed into an art form. There’s been an increase in nose jobs, and the reason for them? It is people wanting to look better for their selfies! No one, for the most part, is proudly posting their mess. Unless it is an apartment reno in process or a confessional “staged mess” to make a humorous point of some kind.

With such socio-cultural pressure, it is no wonder that I learned to strive for perfection in all things, especially the presentation of my self.

I literally dreaded being seen without makeup or with a hair out of place.

And God forbid I was to have a negative emotion! Shove that way down, baby! Slap a grin on it and pose.

Trouble is, the very nature of life is change. And change, my friends, is messy.

Ergo, life is messy.

It has been quite an unraveling, this perfection mechanism. I’ve had to unpack a load to get to my mess.

And once I found my mess, I had to come to love it.

I will be honest. at first, all I wanted to do was get rid of it!

Thankfully, I have some teachers in my life who are artists. Artists know the value of mess. They helped me understand that it is in my mess that my talent lives.

And so began an embracing. Of my mess. Of change. Of life.

It has been challenging at tines, sure. This is not an overnight process.

But boy is it incredible.

My home is neat and tidy. I am an organized woman. I crave order.

But I relish getting messy and allowing myself to be seen in my mess too. And the most fulfilling parts of my creativity are gloriously messy!

Today, I am a love-able mess living a messy, wonderful, creatively fulfilling life. And I say that with pride, not apology.

Messy is as messy does is more than fine for me.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: messy