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Monday, 25 May 2015

Baby, I swear it's Deja Vu

Déjà moo. Yeah, I know. Bad joke.

But I found myself in a situation that's almost identical to one I was in over 10 years ago.  And for a while I was thinking REALLY? AGAIN?

For about a week I slid down the slope into despair and frustration. And I found myself thinking and reacting the way I would have back then.

But this time around one thing was different. I had people to turn to. They couldn't fix the situation. But they could listen. They let me know that they cared.

Then I realised something else. I'm not the same person I was a decade ago and although my initial reaction was the same I did not ACT on that reaction. I took the time to think, seek support and realise that I'm going to be okay. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Feelings, nothing more than feelings...

So I was raised in one of those very stoic-don't-show-any-kind-of-emotions type family.  Happy? Fine.  Angry? Fine. Frustrated? Fine.  These were acceptable to share with the general public and/or your family.

But other types of feelings, not so much. Hurt? Buck up.  Sad? Get over it. Vulnerable? Not interested.  As a person who tends to have all of the feelings all of the time, and as someone who likes to express themselves in order to be understood, this bottling up of emotions was very difficult for me.  But I learnt how; to a degree.

Then I got married to someone who would use any type of emotion I had as a weapon against me.  So I became awesome at really, truly burying the feelings quite deep and only applying logic.

Only the safe emotions were, and still are, ever expressed.  Happiness, anger and frustration.  Hilarious that the anger and frustration are considered safe, right?

Even at my brother's wedding when I got teary and my voice broke while I did a reading for him and his bride, a family member asked me why I got choked up about it.  (Gee guys,  I don't know, my brother only found the love of his life and married her - no reason at all, I guess.)

Consequently I find it difficult to say things like I love you, I need help, I'm feeling vulnerable.  Not only do I not say them, but I definitely don't show them.  (Except to my kids, and normally it's still expressed with a great deal of inappropriate humour.)

It can be a blessing.  When people truly hurt me, but are the sort of people who take pleasure in the pain they cause - they get no response from me.  Whatever trolls...

But lately, I find it a hindrance.  I have people in my life I care for.  I'd like to tell them what they mean to me.  The other day I just had to use the "L" word.  But the only way I could say it was gruffly, and in a sentence that ended with "stupid head".   So you know, it didn't quite sound the way I was feeling.  But I think the person understood.

My best friend is about to appear in a show.  A show that has meant a lot to me for many years.  It's a show that is raw and powerful and has the ability to make me cry in public.  Something I don't do.  Not even at funerals.

I know he's going to nail his performance.  I know I'm going to be a complete wreck through this show.  I also know that there is no way in hell I'll be talking to him publicly after the show.  He knows this.  Our mutual friends are going to be shocked after the show, because they will be expecting me to be the biggest cheerleader.

What they'll witness is he and I completely ignoring each other and looking decidedly disinterested about the whole thing.  Not because we don't feel anything, but because we feel too much.  And this is the only way we can cope with it.

Later, and very privately, he and I will talk about it.  Probably in the most roundabout of terms. Thankfully, with each other we're good at reading between the lines.

Because feelings.  People give you the feelings.  And feelings?  They're the worst.

Aren't they?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

When the war is over...

I had a bad moment with someone on the weekend. A relationship with a lot of history and one I have no choice but to continue. I limit this relationship to as few visits as possible and normally make sure others are around as a buffer zone. But I had no choice but one on one contact and it went as badly as expected.

I'm not going to discuss their behaviour; but its affect on me was profound. I let it affect me. Worse I let it affect a really good relationship I have.

I started off by feeling a little low, then I got a little anxious. Then I got a lot anxious. Then I had a panic attack. I managed to calm myself down but for the next day and a half I felt sick to my stomach.

I thought I had conquered the hold anxiety had on me. I thought I understood that one persons behaviour says more about them than me.  I thought it meant I was immune to letting that negativity in my head. Logic should always win, right? Wrong.

Now despite talking with my friend and knowing that everything is ok between us, I'm still sitting here not quite believing it, and with anxiety nipping at my insides.

It really sucks. It's a constant battle. But I'm determined to win the war.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Quiet on set...

(This is Al Pacacino relaxing between takes on the set of 'Two Weeks')

I just spent the last six days on a film set.  It was amazing.  A cast of four, a crew of twelve.  A short-film.  An experience I'll never forget.

I've been on a film set before.  But I was learning to crew and so focused on just getting my bit right, that I never really took in the whole experience.

But this time I was the "talent".  So my job didn't start until the camera started rolling.  That means there was a bit of waiting around for sets to be dressed, shots to be organised, cameras to set up, lighting to organise.

I felt wide-eyed and in the way sometimes watching this crew work their magic to turn night into day, make lighting look natural, lay cables, tape up marks and a myriad of other things.

I won't lie, it was intimidating in a way knowing that all their hard work was for one reason - to capture the actors performance.

The short story was an intense one.  A family break up, a husband's despair, a wife's frustration, and the children coming to grips with their world falling apart.

I was amazed by the young girl, Ashley, who played my movie daughter.  She played the rebellious, sulking, angry teenager to a tee.  I know her performance helped me find a level of anxiety I needed to find in some scenes.  My movie husband's performance of a hapless, weak, desperate man helped me dig deep to find frustration and repulsion.

Thankfully no one was overtly method in their approach and we could relax between takes, pulling the emotional intensity together when we heard the words "QUIET ON SET".  Taking that moment to find your character between that moment and when the director yelled "ACTION".

Some of the perks were pretty fun too.  Someone there to take care of all our needs.  Thirsty? Hungry? Hot? Cold?  Our First AD would organise everything we needed to make sure we were comfortable on set.  (I'm not sure I can convince my children to keep doing that for me now I'm at home!)

But what I enjoyed most of all, was finding the character of Marnie.  A determined, steely, hard-ass.  A woman frustrated by her life.  A woman seeking change.  A woman dealing with the consequences of her decisions.  Most people aren't going to find her character sympathetic at all.  But it was fun finding her.  It was fun playing her.  It was fun not being me for a while.

The last day of shooting was a long one.  It started at midday and ended at midnight.  The final scenes I shot were very emotional.  I was staying with a friend and I went back to their place and just crawled under the sheets and crashed.  I was that wrecked.  Emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Driving home from the shoot the next day, I cried the whole way home.  I cried because it was sad it was over, I cried because I think even though the movie won't show this part - I think she would have cried as she drove away from her family.  I cried because even though finding Marnie was difficult, letting her go was harder.

Today I am back to real life, and even though it was less than 24 hours ago. It already feels a lifetime away.

Now begins the long impatient wait while the crew edit the film before it's release.  The fun is only just beginning for them.  I can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

There's no business like show business

Two weeks.  That's the name of the movie I start acting in tomorrow.  Yep. That's right. I'm moving from stage to screen (HA!)

It's a short film  about a woman who chooses to leave her marriage and children.  The children are going to remain with the dad for the most part, but the mum will have access.  It's a scenario played out in real life all too often.

The movie is told from the teenage daughter's perspective.    My character, the mum, comes across like a cold, hard bitch.  She's had enough. She wants out.

It's going to be interesting playing this role, because I've been through a divorce.  It's just that I was on the other side of it.

The last few months, learning lines and researching my character has been very interesting.  It's made me understand my ex-husband so much better.  Oh, there's lots of things I'll never understand, don't get me wrong.  There are some behaviours you can never excuse.

But I think I understand a little better the process he went through to make the decision to leave his marriage and his kids.

I understand now it wasn't as black and white as what I thought. There are always shades of grey.  Not 50 in this case....maybe just 49.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Should old acqaintance be forgot...

Normally, I like to make resolutions.  Lose weight, get fit, do more gardening, try to be a better person...the usual.  Every year by January 4th I'm eating too much cheese, lying on the couch trying to stay cool in the heat, watching the plants die from lack of watering and generally just being the same person I was the year before.

So this year my attitude is FUCK IT.  I'm not making any resolutions.

Roll on 2015 - I'll handle you just the way I am.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

We are family...or are we?

I need to state up front that I love my family.  I do.  They have, for better or worse, helped me to become the person I am today.   In some ways, it's despite them that I am the person I am today.  I have made conscious choices and decisions to live my life the way I do.  They helped me form my moral code.  Sometimes, their beliefs helped me form completely different moral codes from them.  But at the end of the day, these people don't get me and I don't get them.  I am trying to find a way to be okay with this.

Sometimes I'm comfortable with the fact that most of them have different political and social beliefs than me. After all, life would be boring if we were all the same. Sometimes I'm utterly outraged by the different stances they take.

There are conversational topics that I've learnt to avoid because who needs the stress of a family argument?  Sometimes I feel so moved by a topic that I have no choice but to speak my thoughts and then deal with the inevitable fall out.  These times are never good.

I've made life choices which with they disagree. I deal with the passive aggressive comments they throw at me because they don't have the balls to just confront me directly or have a conversation with me to try and understand why I've made the choices I've made.  They're not interested in the why's of my life.  As far as they're concerned I'm wrong, they're right and that's the end of it.  This is frustrating because I'm the type of person that tries to at least understand where the other person is coming from before I decide to live and let live.  I'm not afforded the same respect.  But I've made the choice to let this slide to keep the family peace. Sometimes it frustrates me to the point of screaming.  So I do.  To one or two trusted friends.  For a long time I just assumed this was the pull/push dynamic of families.

But recently, I've seen other families interact on a more intimate scale and I've come to realise that not all families are like mine.  Some actually love, support, understand and celebrate each other.  To me, this is a wondrous gift and one that should be treasured.  I must admit to a little bit of envy as I watch them lovingly tease each other, celebrate each others successes and support each other through the trying times.

It's around Christmas time that I become reflective about my family, because traditionally it's the time you spend with them.   But the people I want to spend time with this year, well it's not really my family.  It's my friends.  The family I've chosen for myself.  The people that I'm NOT related to, that I actually relate to.  It's taken me a while to find them, but boy am I grateful I have.