Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Green People or Not Everything Needs To Be Fixed

When I was a child, I was often told I was "too sensitive". It was a beautiful thing, but a thing my peers didn't value that often resulted in tearful homecomings from school on an all-too-often basis. I was a "wear your heart on your sleeve" kind of kid. Being constantly reminded that I wasn't 'enough' of whatever a regular kid should be made me search desperately for a fix for me. After all, I must be broken or deeply defective in order to not fit in, right? I found theater to be my outlet early on. First I identified with little orphan Annie. I eat a good bit of carbs as an effort to self-medicate all the issues that I was dealing with and, of course, put on weight as a symptom. My hormonal disorder just compounded the self esteem problem.

 By the time I was 16, I had over 300 poems to my name, had recieved a standing ovation for my rendation of the then-popular "Nothing's Broken But My Heart" by Celine Dion, and I was deeply involved in my local high school theater. Still, as with many teens, I had the self-esteem of a dust mite. I was just 'not enough'.

I got married just before I turned 21 to someone who finally convinced me that, for him, I was 'enough' just the way I was. Turns out, he convinced several other women of the same thing and we went our seperate ways. But I had successfully co-written and recorded an album as a singer/songwriter. I was already fairly well versed in opera as well, but didn't see that as a viable career path. Afterall, who becomes an opera singer? (Well... opera singers do....obviously...)

Oddly enough, while divorce wasn't something I ever thought I'd experience, it happened at the same time as a long-awaited musical came out. While nearly everyone I knew in theater dreamed of playing Galinda (the blond, cute, soprano, comic relief - the 'pretty one'), I immediately connected with my first peice of green inspiration - Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West).

Wicked the musical - defying gravity by chaosbleedsbtvs

More than the general "outcast" persona of Elphaba, this song shows her claiming her life as her own. It's a 'for better or for worse, whatever my flaws, this is my path and I own it' kind of song that echo'd the switch that had flipped in my brain.  A few of the lyrics that resonated with me:

Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same.
I'm through with playing by rules of someone elses' game.
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.

It's time to try defying gravity
I think I'll try defying gravity
And you can't pull me down.

As someone told me lately, Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me, take a message back from me

Tell them how I am defying gravity
I'm flying high defying gravity

Now, I haven't done a theater show in about 2 years. While that makes me a little sad (and is getting me no closer to playing Elphaba on my Bucket List), it is not because my life hasn't been full. I've kicked the lying habit (a symptom of a chronic fear of conflict that followed me through my 'like me please!' stages of life), I look people in the eye on a regular basis (often without a concious effort anymore, the first few years I had to actually make an effort), and I value my health.

Yeah, it took until my mid 20's to embrace my journey with love, rather than fear. Now I'm in my mid 30's and I'm proud of every step of that journey. It helps me 'get' other people of any age that are going through something similiar.
Maybe it all happened later in life than it happens with some people, but that's my journey.  Everyone's journey is unique.
When I got into the dating scene, I struggled again with being 'too forward' or 'too quiet' depending on who's opinion you asked. No matter what it seemed like I was either "Too Much" or "Not Enough" for someone. But I didn't doubt that I'd find where I was supposed to be. I wasn't going to settle. Even if I never found that adventure companion, I knew I was going to be okay no matter what.

 Thankfully, I had a really good friend through all that. Well, a few really good friends, but let's just talk about one for now. My Sailor was in my corner reminding me all along that I was just right - if only I believed it.

It took me over 20 years to believe it. But I finally did.
 My point being...

I spent a LOT of time trying to 'fix' myself, when the truth is:

If there is 1 thing being in theater has taught me (through a LOT of rejection), it's that I'll always be 'too much' or 'not enough' for some roles/things/people.

But another thing I learned as well is that that's okay.
Sure, I went through sad times, hard times, troubled times, etc. Yes, I had a different start in life than most kids.  But I'm firmly convinced that everyone has had something happen to them resulting in pain, loss, trauma, etc. Sure, there were different paths I could have taken, but I didn't. My parents could have enrolled me in more counseling. There was even the suggestion of ADHD medication once (she wisely knew it wasn't right for me and turned it down). Instead, she enrolled me in soccer and softball to keep me a team player. I was sent to summer camp to interact with others and nature away from home. I was plugged into the arts. I was allowed my Disneyitis. In other words, as much as they were trying 'fix' what was wrong with me, my parents believed that I wasn't inherently broken just because of my start. They realized that that was just the start. Not the finish line.

My family weren't the 'green people'. They were the soil that helped me grow. I was the green part.

Now, as I sit through classes and podcasts all about adoption and family building and fostering, I find that 1 tiny element is often missing from the advice and horror stories.

It's that kids are, well, people. Every person is bumped, bruised, scarred, cut, and even mangled by something in their lives. And, yes, much of the healing process often include helpful things like teams of therapists, teachers, nutritionists, doctors, and other very highly educated people. I can't take away the power of good influences.

I refuse to discount the power of those who believe we can defy gravity, even when we don't think we can. For me, they just most often happen to be green.

Trainer Guy used to tell me early in our training, "This weight is within you." He wasn't talking about my weight. He was talking helping me gain confidence when I was trying to lift something heavy and my own beliefes of my limitations were holding me back. (Somewhere between the "Badassery" and "Awesomeness", he's a little bit of Yoda.)

Now, I haven't done a show in far too long, but I'm waiting on the right show.  My life is full, generally happy, and my time and emotional energy are at a premium. But they are at a premium because I value them. I don't believe I can ever truly "waste" them, because there is something to be learned from every experience, but I definately don't 'waste' it trying to 'fix' what isn't broken.


  1. Jay - you are a strong woman! I respect your past, your struggles,and admire the woman you have become!

  2. another heartfelt inside to who you are. You made a decision not to let the past define you and constantly knock down doors and is this wonderfully beautiful woman.
    As always, very inspiring.