I said this blog wouldn’t be about the past, but everything is, isn’t it? What i meant when i said that is i’m done with recounting the gory details. Once i got it all out, i wallowed. Hell, i was slogging about in that sickening bog for so long i was the emotional equivalent of the well walker from The Walking Dead. Then i spent a lot of time not talking about it at all. I didn’t even think about it much. Taking in the sun. Drying out. Waiting until i couldn’t smell the rot on me anymore.
Nowadays, i’m focused on balance. To continue the metaphor, i’d like to walk in the sunshine with the living, and not be afraid of seeing my own shadow.
I bring this up because i’ve been thinking about who i wanted to be when i was a child, and who i am today. Very different indeed. I thought i wanted to be famous. An actress, a singer, a jet-setting bon vivant. Someone admired and respected and sought after. Beautiful and elegant, witty and urbane.
Heh. It makes perfect sense. I was made for such a world. I survived much of my childhood by escaping into make-believe. I lost myself in music, in books, in television programs. My therapist has said people like me are superheroes and my mutant power is imagination. I created another life to slip into whenever things were particularly unbearable, and i played various characters depending on the set.
The ease with which i did it lent itself well to school drama productions, church plays, and choirs. I never got nervous, only excited. Zero stage fright. Everyone was always impressed, and i loved the attention. Unfortunately, as i got older i kept getting bigger, and not just up, but out. And fat girls didn’t get picked for the lead. Eventually i became too tired and too broken to fight. I still played many roles, but no longer on a stage.
I used to be sad about it, and then i was angry. I may have been very good. I might have even made something remarkable, something that had longevity. But surviving my childhood took too much out of me. The effort and energy required to keep my inner reality safe, to care for all the characters i’d become so attached to… I lost the joy.
Today i’m grateful my dreams didn’t come true. Not in a philosophical, “no regrets” kind of way, more like, “Phew, dodged that bullet!”
If that had happened for me, that dream that so many little girls have, i don’t know if i’d have ever been able to acknowledge and face my past or my mental illness. With an imagination like mine, i don’t need Clarence Odbody* to show me what life might be like had i made different choices. I have many regrets, but not being famous isn’t one of them.
I spent so many years of my life trying to find acceptance and approval that i didn’t realise how solitary a person i really am. Maybe people were spoiled for me from the beginning, or maybe i was born this way. I suspect, as is the way of nearly all things – it is a combination of the two. I love you guys, but i find you bloody exhausting. I’m still learning to manage my brain: my thoughts, my feelings; the fantastic and terrible way my brain works. I must dial down my hypervigilance to being merely vigilant. I sought relationship yet i would go to crazy-sick lengths to avoid rejection. That set up a constant push-pull inside, which only amped up my already significant level of ambivalence and ambiguity.
I guess what i mean is it takes an incredible effort to shift my existence from the relentless pull towards opposite extremes. To reverse it in fact; to seek the middle, but not quite the middle. Balance. Sometimes that’s way over to one side, and sometimes it’s the other. Perpetually making minor adjustments to thoughts and behaviours in order to be healthier, more functional, and hopefully happier in my connections with other humans.
Exhausting, as i stated earlier.
To return to my original point, if i’d enjoyed any noteworthy success at all, i might’nt have ever needed to stop playing roles. Slipping from character to character might have made me more successful. I could’ve fed hungrily upon any accolades and adoration like i see actors, singers, and other celebrities receiving today.
It would’ve probably kept me sick.
I’ve had struggles with excess: food, drugs, sex… Please sir, i want some more, and Thank you sir, may i have another? I think that lifestyle might’ve animated and emboldened my proclivities for debauchery and debasement. And i’d have burnt out rather quickly, too. I’d be fortunate to be alive when the ride was over. Who’m i kidding? It’s amazing that i’m still alive now. I would have lived fast and died young. And nobody leaves a beautiful corpse.
So now to wrap all this up in a succinct summation: I’m glad to be here on this bit of land, in this little, crooked house. I have my husband and my children and their children and my dogs. I don’t need to see anyone else except my health care professionals. I’ve been afforded the time and the space to figure out when, where, and for how long i want to be around any other humans besides them. It’s a safe and happy and gratifying place for me to be today.
Love and Peace,
* The angel, from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
IMAGE: Jay Rembert