my village

I thought it best to write this while it's still fresh in my mind and raw in my heart. Two nights ago I performed my first self-written, self-directed, self-produced One Woman Show, as my final project to graduate from The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Since I was given free reign over the topic, idea and execution of my final project, I decided to honor the entertainer that dwells deep inside me, to use my writing and my voice as the ticket to a passing grade. I decided I would create 3-4 poem-like pieces, written from the perspective of my inner-chronic dieter, my body and God/the Universe. I had clear visions of it sounding, looking and feeling as close to an HBO Special or the Vagina Monologues as I could afford. That's what people want to see. That's the only way I can get people to come. I hired an amazing videographer back in December and we started meeting once a week.

I spent four months going back and forth between what I thought I should say, what people wanted to hear, what my school wanted and yet nothing was coming to me. Before I knew it, performance day had arrived and I still had nothing written. I darted out of bed at 4am, stumbled to my computer and out of nowhere my truth started pouring out. A profusion of past hurts, old wounds, current fears harsh truths and newly discovered wisdom cookies were rushing onto the screen. My Chronic Dieter, my Body and God, speaking loud and clear. Telling me things I really didn't want to say out loud. Telling me things I didn't want to hear. Nothing had ever felt more gut wrenching or so desperate to come out. All my worries about the entertainment factor were evaporating and my deep, deep desire to make it worth everyone's time slowly faded into the background.

From the time I pushed print to the moment I took the mic in my hands, I bawled. Hard. At one point during rehearsal, I said to my dear friend, "I don't think I can get through this. Like, literally, get through speaking what's on this page." Like all good friends, she looked into my soaked, bloodshot eyes and said, "you have to."

As the plethora of deeply important people in my life, including my nutritionist, high school Drama teacher and my Mother started arriving, I knew there was no going back. The little voice in my head, the one that propelled me that morning at my computer, whispered to me, This must be said. Whatever the cost, You MUST say these things. You must say them slow, say them loud, say them proud.

I took the stage. I could feel the heat of the bright lights darting at me, the way they do the moment we are born. I looked out at thirty people. Thirty people who didn't know what to expect. Thirty people who didn't really even know exactly what I was doing, but gave me their Saturday night, their unconditional love and their undivided attention anyway. My whole body filled with such gratitude in that moment. This is my village.These are the ultimate Village People. (Dammit. I knew I should have performed at the YMCA).

As I began pouring my heart out my village was listening with such intent. Nodding. Telling me with their eyes, I understand you. I hear you. Keep going. Then a very poignant epiphany settled over me; I realized this project was never supposed to imitate the Vagina Monologues, because the Vagina Monologues have already been written and performed. I realized there is plenty of room for my story. That everything happened exactly as it should.

The next day, my whole body experienced a deep, dark sadness it had never felt before. My arms were sore and my eyelids could barely open. I felt like something so heavy had been taken off me and I needed to collapse.  Fortunately, I'm privy to the work and wisdom of Brene Brown, whom lovingly refers to this sensation as a "Vulnerability Hangover." I welcomed it with open (sore) arms. Although I had to run a birthday party at the children's gym where I work, I arrived early and allowed myself the most amazing, soul defining, core shaking the ball pit. And OHHHH yes, crying in the ball pit was excellent.

Vulnerability hangovers can be much like a suddenly existing or exposed nerve. Thankfully it passes, especially with the support of my village, who gives me positive reinforcement of the bravery, great daring and wholeheartedness that I embrace in being who I am.

I am eternally grateful you are a part of my life and so honored to be a part of yours.