At first, I bared all in this post. I hammered my fingers into the keyboard, watching sentences form without regard to who they may hurt. So, I took a step back and regrouped. I do wish to share a struggle of mine, but will refrain from stripping away private moments that may bring shame onto certain people in my life. As a writer, navigating this portion of truth is perilous terrain. You’re never certain what to give and what to withhold, pieces of your story involving others you love and wish to protect, but nevertheless are lessons who stirred the sediment of your life.
That is why most of this dwells in my private journals. But I will do my best to share a fracture in my armor without exposing the cracks of others.
For awhile now, I’ve been grappling with why I am so critical of myself. Always pushing for the next thing, never resting or being satisfied with the present. I grow restless. I itch with a need for someone to tell me, “you matter” or “good job“. To pour so frequently from an empty cup.
While watching Daisy Jones and the Six, it hit me during a scene between Daisy and Billy. They are seated in a car together, Daisy upset that Billy interrupted their deepening connection by calling her “broken.” He realized that they each had more in common than he’d imagined, both of them dealing with absent parents. His father left his family when he was young, much like Daisy’s leaving her behind without any goodbye.
“I try not to think about him too much. (beat) I’m pretty sure everything I do is to try and make him regret it.” – Billy Dunne
The line shook me. It unveiled a wound that I have been bandaging for sometime, one that hasn’t healed.
While growing up, I experienced my life through the lens of others — their thoughts, their expectations, their opinions… of me. I was an incumbent people pleaser, someone desperate to make particular people proud. Yet I never felt I could. It was continually out of reach no matter what achievement I’d obtained, mountain I’d climbed, or course I’d mastered.
It took me until graduating college to stitch that wound. But I did it. I found my groove, not anyone else’s. I devoured what I loved, didn’t take no for an answer in pursuit of my dreams. I didn’t chameleon into a relationship or take a partner’s manipulations or bullying. I was able to be me. And that was enough.
Then, Topical Steroid Withdrawal hit. Like a train derailed, I lost my footing. It was subtle at first when losing my career. I missed it greatly. But then when my marriage ended and my health wasn’t getting all that better, the thought of not being enough crept back in. I was completely off track, wandering.
I leaned heavily on the documentary to fill that void. It truly felt like I had nothing left. Nothing left to lose. And it almost came with a high — that I was doing something that mattered. It mattered for me and it mattered for others.
But once it was all over, I stared into the capacious canyon in my chest and realized I had given everything to a project that, though I was proud of, left me wanting. It hadn’t healed me. Quite frankly, the stress, travel, and pressure of it all did a number on my health.
I desperately tried to get better with every lotion, injection, and potion I could get my hands on. I stalked that feeling — to prove that I was worth something. To not use pharmaceuticals because it would disappoint others. To allow men to treat me like an option just to breathe in a whiff of attractiveness. I went completely backwards.
I contended with wandering eyes, vying for someone’s affection and validation in order to look in the mirror and not want to punch right through it. It was whiplash, waiting for someone to tell me I was enough when I should have been fighting for my own self-acceptance.
I cried over hearing students complain about the very art I deeply, desperately wished to perform. I threw every ounce of energy into shows and lessons to never have them feel enriching or meaningful.
Again, chasing and chasing.
On this journey now, with the second documentary, I feel that sense again of wishing to “make the community proud” taking over. More than it should. I do want to make them proud, but I don’t want that pain body to be the reason or intent behind everything I do. I want to be content with who I am and what I’m doing without it clinging to the search for outer validation — that I’m worthy of being here on this Earth without any of it.
So that’s what I am navigating and working towards. Back to the human that made decisions based on her passions and joys, not fears and insecurities. No amount of comments, likes, donations, sponsorships, or interviews will fill that ache.
It’s not what you do, but who you are, that matters most. Because who you are will lend itself to your actions, not the other way around.
“I don’t know who I am, baby, baby, baby. Do you know who you are?” – Honeycomb, Billy Dunne
Just a girl finding herself again. Nothing to prove.