“You’re a flop!”
“No one can count on you!”
“How do you expect anyone to want to read your blog if you don’t write it!”
“You’re a bad girl!”
“You bite off more than you can chew!”
“You can’t live up to your commitments!”
I managed to quiet them with a handful of (appropriately named) Bully Sticks (the link is so you know they're a real thing) and Rawhide, took care of my life and now am back to you.....and my Gremlins.
So, a few nights after I my revelation about my Gremlins guarding the gold of truth in my heart, I had a bunch of friends over to read a play, Easter, by August Strindberg. I love to cook, so I decided to really immerse myself in the Swedish-ness of the play. I found a Swedish cookbook online from the turn of the century and in it a recipe for swedish meatballs and pancakes. I found some lingonberry jam and pickled herring at Ralph’s, pickled some vegetables and we had an all out smorgasbord while we read the play.
When it was over, everyone left, except for a young woman I’d just met in acting class. She stayed, ostensibly to help me clean up, but within minutes she was sitting on my kitchen floor balling her eyes out.
She was going through a huge, painful transition. She had two new jobs she was working to try to make ends meet. She was newly single, just having split up with her boyfriend of two years. She’d just moved into a new apartment with a new roommate, and, even though she was in her late 20s, was just now trying to negotiate life on her own, without financial support from her parents. She was a newer actor, and was also just trying to find her way in that as well, and I suspect that hanging out all night with a bunch of us comparing notes on all of our fancy auditions had triggered a little self doubt in her. It had triggered self-doubt in me, and I was one of the ones comparing notes.....
“I just don’t know what to do, you know? My mother wants to give me money, but I don’t want to take it. I mean, I want to take it, but I---I know I shouldn’t take it, you know? And I know if I don’t take it, it will hurt her feelings. And they--my parents, I know they don’t think I can, you know, be an actress. I mean, they don’t say that, but they, you know, think it. I can tell. I know they want to be supportive, but they make me feel like I’m just, you know, pathetic....”
She paused for a moment and heaved a huge, sad, silent sob. I handed her a cocktail napkin for her runny nose. She blew and sniffed and squeezed it into a ball, then stretched it out into a long rope, then back into a ball. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess, I’m just, I’m working these two jobs, and I like them both, I do. But I’m just, I’m not used to all this. And I haven’t had time to, you know, catch my breath. I just feel like a hamster in a wheel. You must think I’m pathetic.” She blew her nose loudly and the cocktail napkin which had begun to disintegrate left some tiny white specks on her wet, raw nose.....
“I don’t think you’re pathetic at all, “ I said. “You remind me of myself. And I’m flattered that you feel comfortable enough to confide in me. You should feel good that you’re letting yourself feel all this. A lot of people would just shut down. They might get sick and not realize it was from clamping down on all their feelings. It’s overwhelming what’s happening in your life. But you’re doing great. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and sad....”
She sobbed again and I thought, “Oh, crap! I’m making it worse!”
“Yeahhh, yeah, you’re right. You’re right.....”
Okay, well, maybe I’m not making it worse. I decided to press on:
“Listen, maybe you can have lunch with your mom and tell her how you feel. I think if you say it out loud, all this stuff - about the money and about what she thinks of your goals - I think if you talk about it with her, you two will understand each other better and she’ll know how to help you in a better way than just giving you money. It sounds like you want her emotional support, and maybe she doesn’t know that or know how to give you that. I bet she’d like to be there for you and help you and mother you. I bet she’d be grateful for the opportunity to do that for you, especially now, when you need her the most. Maybe you could tell her how to comfort you by first letting her know how you’re feeling. You might be afraid of scaring her, but I bet she can take it.”
She smiled and cried and laughed all at the same time. “Yeah....yeah, you’re probably right....My mom...she can do anything. You’re right. I’ll talk to her this weekend. Thanks.....Thanks for letting me....vent and, uh, cry....I needed that......”
After we said goodnight, and I was alone with the pickled herring and the meatballs, contemplating Strindberg and his own little Eleanora and her not-really-stolen yellow Easter lily, a huge sad sob suddenly overtook me, and I found myself reaching for another cocktail napkin, this time for my own runny nose.
What is this? Why am I crying? Where is this coming from? Why was I getting so emotional about comforting a woman I barely knew?
But then, after I had put away all the food and cleaned all the dishes and sat down on the edge of my bed to sob some more, I realized, I was getting emotional because, my subconscious didn’t know the difference between me and this woman. My subconscious heard those soft, soothing comforting words, and didn’t distinguish herself from my new, young friend and instead, just let her hair down. She let go. Kind of like when someone asks you “what’s wrong?” and even if there isn’t anything wrong, suddenly your body’s physiology takes over and takes on that question and reacts like something is wrong. My body was really longing to be comforted and soothed and stroked, and there I was doing just that, so she/I heard those words as if I was talking to myself, and it felt purging which made the tears spring to my eyes. (Does this make any sense? You can let me know in the comments!!!) I never talk to myself that way. Why not? I’m so kind and wise and caring with my friends. Why am I not like that with myself?
I laid my hand over my heart and listened to it beat and I made a pact to be more nurturing to myself and to speak more lovingly and in soft, soothing, mothering tones to ME!
I sniffed and smiled and wiped the white lint off my red, runny nose and thought about how I was going to introduce my Mothering Voice to the Gremlins that were guarding the gold........and uh, chomping on those Bully Sticks.....