Yup. Sticking with the musical theatre titles. Somebody got paid to write them, so they gotta be good, right?
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big pinner on Pinterest these days. I’ve never been a “plan your wedding” kind of girl, but I like a good picture quote, and the odd DIY project. A week ago, I found a quote from an actress I enjoy that made me pause and think. Allow me to share it, along with some space for you to pause and think.
“Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love.”
(pause and think here)
I always prided myself on not being emotional. Emotions were bad, inconvenient, wrong, so I shut down and stopped having them. Well, I stopped expressing them, at least. I learned that I could safely express them when singing, dancing, or acting, but only when I was playing a character. If they weren’t my emotions, there wouldn’t be any backlash.
Pushing them down obviously served me well. When emotions started getting bigger than “My boyfriend and I just broke up after 6 months,” and “OMG I can’t believe I didn’t get 100% that test,” I had to find some way to deal with them. Enter starving, puking, exercising myself into the ground, etc. When your mind is occupied with the rituals and routines, you can’t think of anything else. You don’t have to feel what you should be feeling.
I remember fighting with one of my acting teachers in a private lesson. She told me that I had no emotional experience. I argued that I had a lot of emotional experience, just not expressing it. She saw no difference.
Nowadays, I’m realizing just how right she was. Sitting in therapy, having no answer besides “I don’t know” to how I’m feeling, I realize how emotionally shut down I’ve become. I completely disconnect from everything, especially the things I should be most upset by. WGT and I have been struggling to figure out how to get me connected. She points out everything I do physically when I disconnect: fidgeting, covering my face (particularly my mouth), the way I hold my mouth, the tone of voice I get . . . the list goes on and on.
Learning to feel is hard work. My brain is so accustomed to finding ways around intense things that I don’t have a clue how to move through them. It’s a whole lot of retraining my brain. It hurts, it’s scary, and I don’t like it at all. I think it’s something that I have to do, though. I can’t even begin to live in this world if I can’t be affected by anything in it.
In The Sound of Music, the Mother Abbess asks Maria, “What is it you can’t face?” (although some people think she asks a different question altogether . . . people with very dirty minds) I think the answer to that question is the key to everything. It’s a question we should be asking ourselves all the time. When you look in the mirror, is it your body you can’t come to terms with, or the person living inside? The only way to beat your demons is to face them. You run, they chase you. You’ll be running forever. Aren’t you tired yet?