Two-thousand-fifteen was a solid year. Grateful. Thanks Universe, thanks Yahweh, thanks Dr. Seuss, thanks friends and family and all of that. Of course. I'm acutely aware that in the grand scheme of things, there are much tougher rows to hoe than the one I'm currently gardening. My water comes out clean from a tap. My bed is warm and upholstered in a pretty blue fabric. My son gets a good education at a free school, and I don't even have to drive him there. Etc.
Still, it's on my heart at this close of what I suppose I could call "a very good year" to lean into vulnerability. To lean into connection. I first heard of vulnerability as a concept from the wonderful Brene Brown. If you haven't seen her Ted Talk on this, I highly recommend.
We all know life is messy, as shiny and bright as it might look on Facebook. And I get it--I do the same thing. FB is the cocktail party you attend in your torn pjs from your couch, computer or phone in hand. We share bright, shiny things at cocktail parties because that's what we do. The messy truth is usually saved for our closest confidantes or not shared at all. I don't think there's anything wrong with that--sometimes the shiny and bright we share with the world is what keeps us GOING when something else is straight-up breaking our hearts--but I do believe there is power and the possibility of grace when we share the messy out wide.
Underneath every triumph and success on FB or whereverthefuck, there is sadness and struggle. There just is. I take comfort in that. Sharing it helps me feel connected. Telling my stories helps me make sense of them.
A short, by no means exhaustive, list of the stories I'm making sense of from 2015:
- My son continues to grow into a kind, sensitive young man who cares about the world around him. He's my favorite person ever. Now that he's sixteen, we can share things we couldn't before, like a rabid love for "Jessica Jones." And every couple of months, I get hit with a sadness that he's no longer tiny and without words, no longer my babe who mewls while he sleeps. I see this young man, all elbows and long legs and wonder where that fat little Paul Sorvino look-alike who nursed non-stop has gone. He'll never be small again. And I get sad. But now I can make him get things when I don't feel like getting up! And I get happy!
- A short film I've shepherded completed its years-long journey in 2015 and now lives on platforms that deliver it to millions of people. I couldn't have imagined that when I wrote it four years ago. Happy! But now climbing the mountain that is getting the feature version of it made makes me want to go back to bed most days. Most days I feel like I'm failing. Sad! One word at a time, and on good days a couple pages. Happy! Fail, win, fail, win...
- Because of that little film, I was up for a holding deal with a major network earlier in the year. It seemed impossible--when we moved to L.A. from Chicago I couldn't get arrested as an actress for years--and I tried not to think much about it. Only my manager and a couple people very close to me knew this was happening. But then I was told privately right before the announcement was to be made at this shindig in front of 600 or so people (by one who would absolutely know) that the holding deal was mine. Holy shit. I had that secret knowledge for about two hours--two of the happiest hours of my life--"Finally," I thought. Finally. A win! And then the name was announced in front of those 600 or so people, and it was not my name. You know that nightmare in which you KNOW you're having a nightmare and are trying to wake yourself up? It was like that, except I was 100% awake and wearing a gorgeous dress and it was real. Big loss! And then I walked straight into the party with those 600 who watched it all go down and pretend I was fine. Best acting of my life. And yet--I was up for a holding deal. A dream come true, nightmare portion notwithstanding.
- The small business I started in 2014 to diversify my income and support my oh-so-unpredictable life as an actress (holding deal? no holding deal?) has brought me more joy and fulfillment than I could have imagined. It's brought me money. It's made me better on so many levels. Success!! And as sole the engine of that business, there are days when I just want to put myself up on blocks like that 1956 Mustang convertible your uncle never got around to fixin' up, and sit it out. Struggle!! Some days I fly, some days I crawl. Each day gets me closer. I set big goals for myself because that's what gets me going, and I regularly fall flat on my face. I'm learning to embrace failure as much as I embrace success.
- I've spent over four years now as a single person. As someone who craves being alone, there's been much joy in that, and so much freedom. Huzzah!! And yet. Just this last year I've recognized a yearning to be coupled with someone who understands me. I've never hungered for it like this before. It's unnerving. It's a tangle I'm not sure how to undo. And I don't like it, this feeling. What does that say about me, that I want this? Despair! Worse? What I feel like I need in a partner feels like a very tall order. Most days I doubt that person exists. More despair!! People, my therapist included, insist that he/she does. I fight them on this, mostly I think because I need to hear them tell me I'm wrong; I like that tiny light of hope that this person exists somewhere and I will find them. Maybe this year. Hope! Aaaand....
So on. There are many more examples of things this year that on one hand were shiny and bright and on the other, heartache. I'll bet you have yours, too.
So, I guess...Yin and yang. In everything. A lesson I continue to insist on learning, starting with this post that I just sort of vomited out and will put into the world as-is. Allowing for imperfection. Allowing the light and the dark and believing that they both belong. Vulnerability in 2016. If you want it, I wish it for you, as well. Happy New Year.