I've had a wonderful, wonderful week. This time a week ago, the cast and crew of "Brassed Off" were moving the set to the Westside Performing Arts centre. I was getting a little nervous, starting to think about how it was going to go. Now it's all behind me and I feel contemplative, not sad, as I thought I might.
There have been some fantastic developments through the course of this show. My friend Kellie suggested that I try out for it, and I wasn't sure, as I wanted to drop some of the weight that I'd gained since having bad Post Natal Depression. I felt fat, daggy and uninteresting. I auditioned, but certainly didn't think that I'd get a part. When I got a part, I felt like I was dragging the cast down. The past few months has been a journey of self discovery and general discovery!
I've been grappling with my recovery from severe depression and went through so much doubt about my abilities as an actress and my basic abilities as a person! When my grandma died on the 5th of January, I felt like I had taken a step back, so much sadness came back and I found it really overwhelming. I was afraid that I couldn't pull it together, that I would let the rest of the cast down and be a disappointment.
Things finally came to a head two weeks before the play went on, one Tuesday rehearsal. I was really struggling with my character and my relationship with my stage husband. I was struggling to find a connection and to feel comfortable being intimate with someone who wasn't Richard. I wanted my character, Vera, to be authentic and genuine, but had a lot of my own "stuff" getting in the way. I waited to ask Donna, the director, about where I was going wrong with Vera. What followed was a wonderful, intimate chat that gave me some direction on Vera and affirmed that I could do this, that I was capable. I hope Donna realises how pivotal this conversation was in helping me to move forward.
I wrote down some of the characteristics that we identified:
- solid, grounded
- has opposites and inconsistencies but these are valid to her character / shades of grey
Every time I stepped on stage as Vera, I thought "Strong" and was able to step up. I am so proud of myself. I feel like even though Vera was a character who I pretended to be, that she rubbed off on me. I feel like having the courage to be her has made me realise that I can be strong myself. It sounds wanky but I believe the character came along for a reason. I also feel like the trouble I was having with relating to my stage husband is all part of the journey I am on with myself, with my recovery. For many years I used alcohol to relate to men, as from an early age I can remember being terrified of them. I'm a very very shy person naturally, but with a bawdy sense of humour and sometimes, a quick comeback. These two are polar opposites, but valid to my character. They can both exist in me and I can be true to myself.
The progress I made, the friendship bonds I've formed with others in the play were all done completely without alcohol, and that's a big step for me. Sometimes during the play, I would feel completely void of emotion, and I would worry about that......but I eventually realised that I have to stop expecting to feel a certain way. Health and happiness lies in accepting my emotions at that point, being in the moment and not thinking "I should be feeling this or that". A lot of my life feels new and different to me, because I haven't done certain things before without alcohol. I am so proud of myself. I feel like I am really becoming who I'm meant to be.
I can remember doing plays in the drinking years and loving being lost in a character, and the stress and confusion that happened for me when I had to let the character go...the dissolution of the stage family and how I didn't feel happy by myself afterwards. Constantly striving to be with people, to be accepted and approved of. I know that after a play I can tend to be a bit of an approval junkie, where too much approval isn't enough. I really struggled with the last play I did in Finley, I wanted people to keep telling me that I was ok, what I did was acceptable and valid.
This time around, it really hit me. I wondered why the things that people said about my performance didn't make me feel any different....and it hit me like a bolt of lightning, the truth that I've heard so often in my life. Nothing I do makes me feel any more acceptable until I accept myself. If I don't approve of me, others' approval won't plug up a hole in my psyche. I have to be whole by myself, for myself. Others cannot complete me. My relationships can't be healthy if I rely on others to finish me. I have to be whole and valid on my own. And I think I'm really getting there.
There are a couple of people from the play who I am sure I will catch up with after. I like the idea of having platonic male friends, and would like to make that a goal for 2009. I am excited about what this year is going to bring. I am going to go walking with my friend Marianne and get fit....I am going to study at least one subject this year....I am going to have coffees with new friends.......I am going to attend more 12 step meetings......I am going to help other people.....I am going to do things that nourish me and use my talents in projects that I enjoy...I am going to value my family and my husband and son and spend quality time with them.
I am several worlds away from the scared and unhappy person I was 6 years ago. Imagine what's ahead in the next 6 years! Love you all.