a little piece of peace
I have some fun career news so I’ll get that out of the way first. I am going to be playing Heather in Rebecca Gilman’s Blue Surge at the beginning of next year. I’m working with the folks at Extant Arts Company and the show goes up from January 21st- February 7th at The Wild Project. The venue is this amazing eco-friendly space in New York’s East Village. It might not be the first area of town when you think of theatre but the space is near La MaMa E.T.C. and the New York Theatre Workshop so we’ll be in good company. It’s a pretty brutal show, and a wild role, so I am currently that wonderful mix of excited and nervous in regards to the challenge.
In other matters, I remember someone one telling me that life is going to continue to confront you with situations and circumstances you are usually hesitant (or scared or afraid) to deal with until you finally overcome them. One example, not one of mine but I’ve seen it happen, is the tendency to date the same type of person over and over again until you break the pattern, stand up for yourself, realize the truth of your circumstances… all of those self-actualizing phrases. In my current reality it is not so much being confronted with an uncomfortable situation or something I am unsure of how to handle but more of a “well now that you’ve learned how to (insert proud accomplishment here) you are going to be continually bombarded with reasons and opportunities to test this new-found skill.” I get it; I’m getting tougher and stronger. I have learned to speak my mind, at least more so than my former version that was often overwhelmed by self-consciousness. The whole “will people like me?” and “was that okay to say or do?” mantras have somewhat softened. And they have been replaced with a new talisman of truth. One I share gladly.
This truth that has revolutionized most of my life encounters is “You teach people how to treat you.” Simple, right? Not quite the mind-bending philosophy you expected. I can pinpoint my discovery of this lesson. I was reading a book of short stories by Maeve Binchy called London Transports. Now bear with me because this weaves around a bit. There was one story about an Irish girl who has traveled to London to end a pregnancy because she was sleeping with her married boss. I warned you, it’s seemingly random and not circumstantially related to me at all. While she was in the facility in London she shares a room with another girl having the same procedure. This British girl is with her boyfriend and (if memory serves) they just weren’t ready to have kids. When the two women are alone later in the story, the talk about whether or not the married man knows about the pregnancy and if our heroine is going to tell him what she’s done. She says that she isn’t so the Brit goes into this speech about how she needs to be careful because she is always going to feel that she made this big sacrifice for this man and she gave up so much for him but since he doesn’t know anything about it, he will not shower her with the thanks or attention or extra care she may need at this time.
I know, it’s not really a clean or clear transition from the story to my belief quote but what I took away from that story is that the information you provide to others, the way you behave with others, teaches them how to treat you. If you don’t say what you need, you will never get it. So I have tried to follow my own advice. The best example of it was when someone really kind of screwed me over at my day job in the past. He didn’t stick up for me in one situation and it upset me. He let someone else boss me around when he was my supervisor (and I was RIGHT). After the other person left, my boss turned to me and said “Don’t be mad.” In one of my finest moments of self-proclamation I turned to him and said “I am mad at you and it’s going to have to be okay for now. I’m not going to be angry tomorrow, I’m probably not going to be angry in 15 minutes, but right now I am mad at you. You didn’t defend me and you should have. And it’s going to have to be okay that I’m mad at you because there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” He simply said “Okay” and we sat in silence for a bit. And I was fine very shortly after that, probably because I had been able to so quickly express my genuine and correctly-directed irritation and hurt. I was able to teach him how to treat me. To not invalidate my feelings because, right or wrong, they existed.
I know, get to the point Louise. Well… as of late I am finding that many situations demand this same kind of direct and truthful “calling out” of reality. And it’s a challenging thing to do. It’s hard to speak your mind but the reward of simply expressing your thoughts and feelings is so amazing that I try to gear up and do it. But I confess that it’s challenging. And often you are reminded of the fact that hiding and stifling and tolerating usually feels like the easier road to take. It’s hard to be honest. And sometimes it truly sucks. But I ask myself “what would I rather.” And even if it hurts and even if it’s soul-crushing in the moment, at the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror and fall asleep in peace. I can rest knowing that I did my best. That I tried to be the most honest, bravest and giving version of myself. That in the end I will know that I tried. And the people and situations around me are worth it. Maybe my bouts of insomnia are really those times when I put up with things and situations that are hurting me, or when I am fighting my true feelings. And I don’t have them much anymore. Okay, I still have them but they are MUCH less frequent. Even when things are frightening or challenging, when they don’t turn out as I hoped, at least I can sleep.
I wish you all the strength and passion possible. I know it’s a crazy world but I wish you peace.
Dream Role: Antigone (keeping with the fighter girl theme of this post!)