I chose a career whose foundation is jealousy and rejection. As an actor, if you are any good, your peers will envy you, be jealous of your successes, and very often those feelings are manifest in dislike or even hate. No one admits to feeling jealous. I was a talented actor, had a beautiful singing voice, was pretty, and moved very well and with grace. I suffered my share of rejections, but usually when I really wanted a job I got it. I was very blessed. My peers were jealous of me. But I was used to being hated for my gifts. My mother was jealous of me all my life.
But it never occurred to me that my mother was jealous, especially when I was a kid. What did I have that she could possibly be jealous of? I just thought she hated me. And that made for a very contentious and complex relationship-one that was very unsatisfying for me. I don’t know what it was like for my mother, but I cannot imagine that it did anything but damage her even more than she already was, and her relationship with me couldn’t have been fun for her either. It was actually my best friend who, in our early twenties, suggested that my mother didn’t hate me but was jealous of me. I had to think about the suggestion for a very long time before I was able to admit that jealousy could have been at the root of the problems between my mother and me. But I remained perplexed. What did I have that anyone could have been jealous of?
That is not to say that I never felt jealous feelings towards anyone. I did. But never envy. I never wanted anything that someone else had, but I could feel jealous of their success. I never coveted. Well, that’s not entirely true. When I was very young I coveted my mother’s breasts. I suppose that’s normal and that Freud would have something to say about it. But I never wanted her life. I never wanted to be married or have children or do any of the things associated with the idea of “conventional normalcy”. I just wanted to be a working actor. At least that’s what I thought. But that’s another story.
Jealousy eats at your soul and can devour your humanity. It may not even affect the object of your jealousy at all. The only jealousy directed towards me that actually had an impact on me was that of my mother. The rest of it went largely unnoticed by me as it never occurred to me that anyone had any reason to be jealous of me. I never thought I was anything special, as much as others told me I was. But that’s another story too. As for jealousy-it is a green-eyed monster. And the monster is us.
Very often, even at my age, I have knee-jerk reactions to people and situations that are totally controlled by my past. One would think-yea , I would think- that I had outgrown such knee-jerk responses. The people in my life now are not my parents and events are never exactly the same as when I was a child. And yet I find myself giving into these impulse reactions as if I were five.To me, this is what it means to succumb. It means giving in to something that no longer benefits us.
Just yesterday I had a reaction to someone I love as if this person were a parent. I moped and fretted, felt angry, hurt, and rejected, and even wondered if I had done something wrong-which I hadn’t. I doubted myself because of a difference in style. I raked myself over the proverbial coals for naught all because I allowed the past to dictate the present. It was a perfect waste of time and lots of emotion and I felt very foolish. I succumbed to feelings I had when I was little because a situation felt familiar but in actuality was not. I dishonored both myself and the person I felt provoked these feelings. I had been cowardly.
Surrender on the other hand, is letting go and letting be. It has nothing to do with knee-jerk reactions and giving in. It is an acceptance of things as they are. It is being clear of vision. It is allowing the flow of life through you. It is putting the ego-who is your five year old-aside and being in the moment, very present. It is a releasing of what was and has been, and becoming anew. It takes courage. And not a little wisdom. Surrender is a belief in the awesome and magic of life without needing to control everything. Surrender is saying a resounding YES! Succumbing is no.
I learned a lot yesterday. I learned that the little child inside me, that damaged part of me, has not completely healed and that there is still work to be done. There is a piece of me still in pain from things that happened long ago. I am not yet untethered. But as long as I am aware, I can be courageous enough to do the work. As long as I stay aware and DO the work, I can be free. And freedom, after all, is what true surrender really is.
For over a week now I have been suffering from a serious lack of motivation and I cannot decide if I am just feeling lazy or something else is going on. But all I want to do is be a couch potato and sleep. In my world, those are 2 signs of clinical depression, but I don’t think I am depressed. I feel stuck. My brain feels like cotton wool and anything creative seems like an enormous challenge and I feel completely enervated. “Rise to the occasion!”, you say. “Screw you!”, is my reply. I am too overwhelmed and I can’t think. For whatever reason, I feel like I am having to climb Mount Kilimanjaro without any climbing gear. It looms before me like a giant mushroom cloud after the big bang-portending my total destruction. What I am failing to see is the incipient life that is brewing.
I feel like I-or at least the “I” that I have known for years-is about to be anihilated and I am scared shit-less. Scared shit-less and dead in my tracks. Who will I be if I am not the crazy child/sister/friend? Who am I now? I am unrecognizable to myself. I know in my brain-that is the brain that feels like cotton wool-that with every loss or death there is a birth. We are born anew every second of every day on so many levels. We are ever-renewing and ever-evolving. But it feels like I most of all, am going through a transformation so quick and so extreme as to turn myself inside-out. I am an unknown. My hands no longer resemble my hands, my face belongs to someone else. Yet it is my face. Who is this person? Who am I?
I know I have written about change before, but this is a different kind of changing. There is nothing incremental about it. Yes, on some level there has been a slow evolution. But in recent months it has been a swift, hands-quicker-than-the-eye, magical change. And that is why I am stuck here now with no motivation. I am out of breath. I have run a 90-second marathon. I am having the “Now what do I do?” response. I think I have to get my bearings and the lay of this new landscape. I have to grieve the loss of the old. Before I can embrace what things have become, I have to say goodbye to what was. In this regard I cannot multi-task.
It is okay that I am unmotivated. I have gone through the trauma of the birth canal completely conscious and self-aware. I can stop beating myself up for what I am not doing and cry for a while. I am not lazy. I am new.