I am done with apologizing for the collective shadow
“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person happens to be a woman.”
- Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham is the creator, director, writer, & star of the comedy/drama Girls and author of a book of personal essays entitled Not That Kind of Girl. She is one of my art heroines because she dares to tell her truth with no apologies--she is funny, smart, feminist and she shows up with her full, wacky, imperfect self. I also happen to have a lot in common with her: she has the art career of my dreams, and we share the same double alma mater. One of my (formerly secret until now) dreams is for one of my songs to be on her show. (One of my other dreams is to have a comedy show of my own, which I have been developing for years. More on that later...)
For 41.5 years, I have been far too apologetic. This is a female habit that I am ready to let go of. I am done apologizing for myself and for feeling shame about the parts of me that are simply just human.
This June Blogging exercise is an exercise in shedding my shame. It’s an exercise in letting go of the ego-driven perfectionist in me, so that I can actually just sit down and write some truths. Sometimes (and more often than I’d like considering that I teach and write about how to work with the inner critic) I find myself imprisoned by the critic inside that just can’t tolerate anything I write that seems self-absorbed or braggy, unresearched or confessional. I find myself afraid of three things most: 1) I will write something offensive to someone 2) I will reveal myself to be self-absorbed or narcissistic 3) I will be accused of ignorance, and will be asked to back up something that I have written, and I won’t be able to.
Looking at them plainly now, I see that these fears are gendered. That these are the things we women fear because we are brought up to:
- Be nice
- Take care of others, and to deprecate ourselves
- Use facts to support what we say, even if we naturally gravitate towards our personal experience as a way of knowing about the world
As an exercise, I went through a folder in my computer titled “Writing pieces: post ideas, essays, thought seeds” and I found 60 pieces that all started with great passion and truth, and not finished. They remain unpublished. Just like 99% of everything I have written. Withexception to the many pieces I have shared on my personal blog, (read by a handful of friends, family & therapists), the poetry that was published in my high school literary magazine (whose pages were graced years later by the writings of Lena Dunham), I have published only two pieces of writing in my life: one was when I was 11 years old. I had won a creative writing contest in New England, and they published my story and a photo of me holding my cat, Claude. And second, when I was twenty six years old. I had met an artist, whose day job was as editor of a porn magazine called Oui, who paid me $100 to write a pornographic story, which he published. I have at least three books in me, and I would like to publish articles. But for now, I am very happy to be blogging. Maybe my new style will attract more than a handful of readers. Maybe I’ll be more courageous about making my blog more visible.
I realize now that I never stopped blogging, I just stopped publishing. Reading through the unpublished folder of pieces now, I think: so many of these could be blog posts right now, with just a tiny bit of editing. As part of this 30-days-of-blogging-unapologetically thing, I will plant some of these seeds online and see what kind of plants they become. Maybe they will lead me into the voice I have longed to be for so long. The voice that upholds the shadow in all of us. The voice that was was first awakened by Christian Slater in Pump Up the Volume when I was 17. The voice that makes space for us (you AND me) to be oneself, which is to say, to be all of one’s selves. We all have male & female & child in us. We all have shame and heartbreak and yes, we all have to take a shit. We all need to belong. We all need to feel free. We all need to be seen and heard.
I have lost my tolerance for The Culture that disconnects us from our nature. It is time to re-invent culture. It is time for me to take a stand, in my own way. My own way is not in the political arena, it is not about fighting “the good fight.” My own way is not about pretending to be something I am not. My own way is to be myself, unapologetically, and to be a champion for creativity, the feminine, and that which we feel we should hide. My way is creating supportive contexts (creative classroom laboratories) where people experience their own true selves emerge. My way is to celebrate our longings, letting them lead us into human aliveness. My way is to use my rock-n-roll-poet-prophet-mystic-explorer-of-garbage-and-all-things-beautiful-and-true voice. My way is to be balls-out and heart-out. I want to give you all a heart-on.
Who is ready to join me on this crazy scary exhilarating path to self-actualization?