Monday, March 12, 2012
I was about to give some kind of a speech about a new cd and the social commentary it was making, prior to a show at the arts centre in the place I last lived. It was a new centre, and I had to pass through a café on the way to the stage, then wait in a back stage area before going on. It was a big and open space, and I passed by an old colleague, who was sitting at a table off to the side. She didn’t look up in time to say hello, but only as I was just past her.
There had been some technical issues getting my speech printed out, but I was expecting an event producer I had been working with to come through with it before I went on.
It soon became clear that this was not going to happen; that I was going to have to go on without any notes whatsoever.
No one had seen me since I had left.
It was like I was simply not capable of stressing out.
I just had to be transparent, and radically accept my predicament, instead of trying to cover it up and fake it, as I would have done in my years there. Had I done that, it would have been painfully obvious to everyone how much pressure and stress I was feeling.
I woke up and realized that my whole life there felt like that. Like I was on stage without a script, trying to hide the fact that I was unprepared, caught off guard, feeling inadequate and utterly horrified. found myself thinking about how uncomfortable people must have felt; how they would have had to forgive me for my anxiety so much. How hard I tried and how evident that must have been. How much awkwardness there was. There was always an underlying level of stress that I tried to hide — actually, I can’t even say that hiding it was a conscious effort at all. My anxiety was so buried that I was not even aware that it was there in the first place. It’s not till now that I can understand how this must have felt for others. That I couldn’t just drop into the moment and be there in its fullness, and in the fullness of who I am.
I half dreamed about how the speech went. How I joked with the audience, played a bit of the clown, made everyone laugh, said hi to (colleague), and announced him as my boss. In some versions of the dream I replayed in my half waking state, this type of demeanor went over well; in others, it was completely inappropriate, but I worked hard in the dream to make it so that it may have been inappropriate, but a welcome addition to the evening through the spontaneity and genuine presence and connection that I brought to the circumstance. Life is one big long improvisation, responding to the moment without judgement, exploring it, seeing where it leads you, channeling the Universe, as I have said recently.
I thought how this is a side of me that has emerged here, and how I simply would no longer find myself in a situation that would not allow for this. On the contrary, I seem to be drawing people and situations where this is the desired presentation – always radically present. That people would no longer expect me to be the saavy professional I once tried so transparently painstakingly to be. I was always trying so hard, and that was the ultimate sabotage of me and everything I tried to do.
Now, I have been embracing the fact that I am a creative soul who cannot be expected to be professional in that “arts event” kind of way. I don’t try to be that any more. I am farther and farther from that sense of what is “normal.”
The weight and the sadness of how many years I was not honest about who I was landed in me.
The feeling of the dream was walking into a situation I had been before, feeling a little shy to “come out” as whatever kind of authentic being I was in that moment, because I had never been authentic before. What would people think? It would cause a stir. People might expect me to be this way always, but what if this strength and calm transparency, radical acceptance is gone tomorrow, or the next day? What then? What if I find myself back in the feeling of being so small and needy? Then I will look like a liar, and people will say that haven’t really changed at all, and I will wonder if it’s true.
I realized that if there were a movie made about me, my struggles would not be so hard to understand. All this time, I thought that no one knew how much I struggled, when actually, I think most people did; they just never knew what to say or how to help me. They just stayed away. I was the elephant in the room. It’s as if I was on stage all along, but I am only realizing it now, in layers, and with each layer, I feel mortified all over again.
I just spent 7 years being the elephant in the room (actually, more like 22 years). There was an unconscious yet unbearable pressure to be what I thought people kept telling me I was – exceptional, intelligent, beautiful, talented, capable, a leader. I kept thinking, “What is wrong with me, that I can’t seem to be what is appropriate to be? I can’t let people down. I can’t let them see that I’m not what they think I am. I have to pretend that it’s not hard, pretend that I am.” I was so misguided, so off my track, so lost, and no one could do anything. What were they to do? I was the elephant and an island unto myself because I couldn’t see what was happening. I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel how fake I was being, how much I was hiding, how much strain I was under.
I feel like I’ve stood naked, walked the streets naked, pretending I am clothed, as if no one can see, hoping that if I pretended hard enough, if I was strong and determined enough, if I thought positive enough, tried hard enough to overcome my fears, it would be true, and no one would ever have to know about these embarrassments of my past, and I could finally be free of my failures and forget about them.
In step four I am currently taking in my CoDA program, this is going to be a huge chunk of my “moral inventory” – an inventory of the resentments I hold, and the people and places I betrayed myself, betrayed what was in my heart (a fellow member’s definition of the word moral).
- Day 2 – Reflections and thoughts (lamptomyawakeningsoul.wordpress.com)
- My Suicide Circus (priestessaura.wordpress.com)