How My Acting Teacher Made Me Cry

I’m no stranger to tears. After the divorce, I cried a lot.

And then someone who I cared about, someone who I had dated before I was married, laid it down for me. I had done something, and he perceived it was done to him, that he couldn’t forgive me for (getting married). Initially, my reaction was: This is YOUR problem. It’s not my problem. I have asked for forgiveness from the appropriate people. If you choose not to forgive me, that’s on you. I did my part. (And when I tell the story, there are one or two suggestions as to what I think he can go do to himself).

And it was liberating. And I’ve been happy ever since.

liberating

Until my acting class last night.

The activity is called, “Repetition”. Two actors looking at each other. Actor one makes a statement about the other actor (You look nervous, you look pretty today, etc.) and actor two responds (I look nervous, I look pretty today) with whatever emotion he/she feels about what Actor One said to him/her. A lot of my reactions with one of the actors was that I didn’t care (because I frustrated him or made him mad) because I was thinking, “Well, you control your reaction to me and I’m not much interested in how you feel, so I don’t care.” And that’s true. I have no stake in this other person so if he is angry at me (and it’s not really an act, it’s a reaction, but not to be taken too seriously), I don’t have a reaction that might be standard (apologetic, embarrassed). I don’t care.

i don't care

My acting teacher said I was hiding. She said that sarcasm and deflecting are all ways to hide what I’m really feeling. I said, respectfully, that those were my honest reactions and there are probably a lot of people who think I’m not nice or who think that I’m mean, and what they think of me isn’t that interesting, certainly not enough to elicit a strong reaction from me. I also said that no one who knows me personally would ever say I have trouble expressing myself or being honest about how I’m feeling.

She then respectfully disagreed and started to give an example. But I had stopped listening.

Because I started thinking about why I don’t care and what I’m hiding. I refuse to consider falling in love. I’m keeping my focus on my career. I still see people, and I enjoy the company of others, but these interactions will never turn into a relationship. That part of me is closed off (I did, however, promise my father that if I had met someone extraordinary, I would reconsider) and it’s been so easy. I’m not lonely, because I have chosen to be alone. I like it this way.

But it will stop me from being a good actress, because it will hinder my ability to show a true emotion, to react to a scene because I’m not accessing everything inside of me.

And I’m having these thoughts as she is still speaking to me. And it occurs to me, that if I don’t let myself feel hurt by what said to me (and the argument against this is that in the year following my divorce, I felt enough hurt and pain to last another year and I’d be just fine without it for awhile), then I can’t grow as an actress.40things002

So I said, out loud: Ok I understand.

I had interrupted her. She was taken aback. I sat down. I regained my manners and said, “I’m sorry. Please continue. I just wanted you to know that I understand what you’re saying. You’re right.”

We talked after class. I explained my brief little history that led me to become apathetic, and frankly, cold. And I cried. In front of a stranger.

Typical.

Then I thought about it all the way home. Then I thought about it as I went to sleep. I thought about it when I got up and on my way to work. I’m thinking about it still.

I don’t want to be hurt by what he said to me because I don’t want to acknowledge the consequences, which are logically and rationally acceptable, but of course, one cannot tell the heart how to feel about something.

So because I want to be an actress, and I want to give myself 100% to the art, I have to do a number of things:

1. Feel what I’ve been ignoring and pushing away.

2. Let people in.

3. Stop setting limits.

I hope this will become one of those times where I’ll look back and think, “That was a pivotal moment. You absolutely needed to choose what you did in order to get where you are now. And it was all worth it.”

I have found that in looking back, every moment and every sacrifice has been worth it, in one way or another. If not for that, than this would never have been. And I like it here.

I like it here

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