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.

 

 

Word for the Year Follow-Up

I did it. I finally found my word for the year.

Or, rather, it found me.

As 2018 ended, I went through my end of year review and my year ahead intention-setting. And I began to live in the questions: what did I want to be my guiding word, an anchor as I traversed the days of the year ahead?

What did I want more of in my life? What was I calling in?

I kept circling around different words. I’d try them on for a few days. I’d think I’d found it. I’d think I’d found it, but in time, something would not feel quite right about it. t was like wearing a new sweater that looked great in the store, but doesn’t really feel like me when I get it home and wear it for the first time.

And then one day, as I was driving home, just sort of trying on the sixth or seventh word, free-associating, a new word came to me. And as I repeated it to myself, I found myself deeply moved. So much so that I had to pull over.

And then I just knew. It was “the one.” It was something I was ready to live in, to aspire to, to own.

The word that I heard was “Core.” And then “Ownership.”

So 2019 is all about Core for me. And Ownership. It is about living from my core. Owning my truth. Knowing and expressing my true feelings.

Getting to intimately know my core self. My power. Living from my power. Listening to my gut. Trusting my intuition. Living from my creativity.

Trusting my own sense of reality and living as fully and freely as I can from a place of deep authenticity.

Expanding and deepening my inner strength. I have been doing Pilates for a few years, but I want to really gain mastery over the deepest, inner-most and lowest abdominal muscles. To fully know my own strength. To move from my strength, my Yoni.

It makes so much sense to me now that this is the word that found me. The work of the past few years have set me up for where I am now. From Track Yoga:

The third chakra—the manipura chakra—is the center of personal power. As you’d expect, it’s located in the core of the body, at the solar plexus. To fully be ourselves, we need a strong core. Balancing the third chakra means maximizing personal power and strength.

When energy flows through the third chakra, we feel a strong sense of purpose and self-worth. We’re able to exert power without being controlling or dominant. In other words, we take our rightful place in the world and live in peace among all beings. We are energetic and enthusiastic about the life we are meant to live.

The first and second chakras govern our sense of security and our ability to express ourselves creatively and emotionally. We need a strong sense of our own personal power to use those abilities. The third chakra, then, unleashes our creative force when we feel secure in the world.

And so here I am, 29 days in. It is my guide as I move through my day, making decisions. Am I listening to my core? Am I acting from a place of ownership?

I remind myself to breathe. To listen. To sense.

It feels so right. I cannot wait to see how the year unfolds.

What is your word for 2019, if you have one? How is it going so far?

#wordfortheyear #2019 #guidingword #intuition

I share my posts here.

Word for the Year

It is that time again. Time to choose a word for the year.

I began this process a few years ago, and it has become a personal tradition.

It is essentially finding a word (or words) that represent a theme for the year ahead. It can be a reminder. It can become a kind of anchor or guide. Something you are calling in. Something you are exploring. Expanding or growing into.

There are many ways to do it. Get creative. Have fun. Make your own.

I was introduced to this and still follow Susannah Conway’s way through. If you have not been introduced to her wonderful offerings, check her out. She generously makes them available for free! Go to Find Your Word for 2019.

I am taking my time. I have not chosen yet. And after I choose, I will write in the sand on the beach and let the waves wash it into the future.

Last year I had a slew of words! (I could not settle on just one.)

Daring Greatly/Stretch/Curious/Creative/Depth/Credibility/Courage

Guess what? My year was filled with exactly those. I look at those words and feel them residing in my core. I know them intimately.

I cannot wait to see what word I choose for 2019. (Or will it choose me?)

What word will be yours for the year ahead?

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I share my posts here.

The Path

A year ago, out-of-the-blue, I was overcome with the desire to challenge myself to post daily. The idea was to do it for a year.

I had been struggling at the time with unexplained, extreme fatigue. My ability to be active in my normal life was severely impaired.

The posts became a daily lifeline to my creativity. A way to keep being in the world creatively, even if I could not be physically.

It has been an amazing gift.

That daily connection to readers and other writers has been crucial to my well-being. I am so very grateful for whatever wisdom inspired me to self-challenge myself.

I missed a day or two. But I did post a day for about 362 days. I wish to celebrate that. I could easily just bypass it, which is my tendency of all actions I take.

But not this time. Today, I acknowledge and celebrate my having posted daily for over a year, with a few three exceptions.

I showed up no matter what. On sick days, depressed days, vacation days, super busy days, days I really did not want to write.

And I learned to just write no matter what. To let things be less than perfect. To “just do it.”

I “met” amazing fellow writers and have been exposed to so many wonderful, different verse blogs.

And now, just as suddenly as the idea came to me to do it daily, I find that my desire to continue posting daily has gone.

I am so curious about this. Is it because I am now fully back into activities of my life?

Or are my creative impulses unpredictable?

Is it because I “completed” something and so desire some new challenges?

That has yet to be revealed.

For now, I accept that I challenged myself to do something, loved it, learned a great deal from the doing of it.

I thank those of you who have read me daily or several times a week (or any time!)

I look forward to finding my new pace. Perhaps every other day…

I welcome the wisdom that will surely guide my next step. I have learned to trust my own process. Look where it has brought me so far!

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: unpredictable

To the Core*

I used to hate myself.

Seriously. I hated just about everything about me. I was fixated on the way I looked: I felt like a monster, something grotesque, misshapen, disgusting.

This was painful, and difficult. It is hard to relate and be in the world when you have that kind of hatred for your body.

But as I look back, the most painful kind of hatred I felt towards myself was the hatred I felt for the ways I felt and thought. I felt tormented by my own mind and feelings and sought escape in every way imaginable, including close contemplation many times and one failed attempt at ending my own life. I could not get away from this internal self I so hated. I felt like a freak trapped inside a monster’s body.

I wasn’t born with that kind of self-hatred. It developed slowly over time in my early years following trauma that created a kind of split from my own core. Losing connection to my core made me vulnerable to the outside world in a way that was devastating.

With a healthy core intact, dealing with bullies and the other social pressures at school is painful and impactful but does not warp one’s self-perception.

With a healthy core intact, a person can withstand the challenges that exist in most childhood homes where there are people with untreated mental issues, and where there are emotional, sexual and physical abuses or neglect as a result of parents who themselves were abused or neglected.

Without a healthy core intact, the affect of these kinds of external forces become stronger, louder than one’s own innate internal sense of self, sense of well-being, of any innate self-support. As a result, these events, people and experiences bend and shape one’s sense of inner and outer self and reality.

The best way I can describe living without that connection to my core sense self is to have been like a tissue blowing in the wind, this way and that, getting stuck wherever the wind took me.

I do not have multiple personality disorder, so I cannot speak to what that experience is like, and I do not mean to offend anyone who does. But I have sometimes imagined that what I experienced was somehow related. I could not hear my own internal voice most of the time. I was “hearing” the world, and it was loud and dangerous to me.

Living when you are disconnected from your core is terrifying. It is suffocating. It is lonely. It is deadly.

I am lucky, because even though that connection was severed, there was always somewhere deep within me some sense of something to keep fighting for. One tiny shred of connection to a core that I could imagine if not feel or often hear. I didn’t trust it or understand what it was. But it was there and I could sometimes hear it in the very darkest moments.

Like the moment some years ago now when I had the razor blade that I had bought and planned to use in my fingers and held to the skin of my left wrist, ready to end my suffering. That tiny shred began to whisper to me, “What if I am wrong? What if it could get better?”

That tiny shred, and the realization in the moment that followed that I was reneging on a promise I’d made to my two cats – whom I loved desperately – that I would always look after them, that they would never know fear or be homeless again after their difficult early lives feral on the streets of NYC, saved my life that day.

I have written about coming home to my own core within myself in previous posts Dormant Child and Cutting the Cord.

The work of healing my fractured soul has been profound, difficult and beautiful. It is on-going work, but I have come such a long way.

To re-connect with and then feel a permanent connection to my own core self – to know my own essence – has been at times a shockingly powerful and painful process. And at the same time, the most intricate, exquisite and intimate experience I have ever known.

One of the greatest gifts of this this connection to my core, this freeing of my inner selves (every age I have ever been) and this healing of the traumas of these selves into wholeness, has been a growing love and appreciation for my self.

I have learned to love my body for what is does, not how it looks. I have grown a gratitude for my physical abilities and strengths, and try to find joy in moving my own body, using my own voice. Today, I have reverence for all that my body contains. It contains multitudes and is wise beyond my mind’s own wisdom. It holds the Truth, and it never lies.

I look for the miracles within and without, and because I have cleared away what I can of the detriment that is not of my true essence, I find them. The detritus that remains from my past does not clog my joy as it once did. I love the detritus, too, for it holds important information. There is often even gold to be found in what remains.

I genuinely enjoy my own company today. I like the way I experience the world: my own peculiar sense of humor, the unique way I think and feel. I am no longer tortured by my own thinking. I am no longer tortured by being me.

This is huge. Not to say I do not experience anxiety, racing thoughts, negative or critical thinking (the Inner Critic, the Critical Mind, the Ego, whatever you want to call it.) I do experience all of those things and more (panic, depression, the pull towards self-destruction.)

But I am no longer a tissue blowing in the wind.

I am a mighty tree, strong and constantly expanding into the world around me. Yet I am flexible and can withstand whatever weather comes my way because I am rooted, and those roots go deep. I take nourishment from the elements that support my growth. I no longer look for sustenance from sources that can not provide what I truly need to thrive.

I live in light today. There is darkness, yes, but it is a different kind of darkness. I no longer fear the dark places, because I am always there. I trust myself to see myself through whatever comes my way.

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: core

*This is a repost of something I wrote last year. I needed to read it today.

Many thanks, always, to the work I have done with Suzanne Connolly.