Under the Surface

*Caveat: this is not a “theater post”… bear with, we’ll get there.

So in case you don’t follow along I’m a bit of an amateur musician and thespian. I (intermittently) play a handful of instruments, I sing, I act in a variety of venues and styles – from straight theater, to opera and classical, to musical theater and rock shows, I enjoy them all.

Recently I had a chance to perform in a not-so-local community theater show. Honestly, the location was on the farthest edge of comfort and the logistics were pretty trying. Particularly juggling work and Derpy Dog. However, the show itself was epic and has been on my bucket list for some time. It turned out that I had the opportunity to meet some pretty glorious and talented people as well. Despite being dead tired and guilty for abandoning Derpy for more than I would have liked, no regrets.

In this spectacular day and age of modern theater, the group had a cast and crew social media page. It was a pretty convenient place to communicate en masse as well as a place to post pictures and generally goof off together. Remotely. Well, how-dee 21st century!

Anywho. During the three week run, the director posted one cast member per day for the rest of the team to appreciate. It gave everyone a chance to wax poetic on the things they found lovely and admirable about their fellow cast mates. It was excellent.

And thus I finally get to the point… eventually it was my turn to be in the cajolery cross-hairs. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The Douche spent a frightening amount of energy keeping me face first in the mud of self-loathing. I have countless family and friends who have since bolstered, struggling to build me back up. However, it is a very slow process recovering from years of intimate criticism, censure, cavil, and hauteur. After all the negative conditioning, I find it daunting to gracefully accept compliments. My self worth is (possibly irrevocably) tarnished and stained.

To make matters even more convoluted, one of the only things that The Douche never denounced was my vocal aptitude. However, he controlled that ability, allowing me to showcase it only when he felt it reflected well on his behalf. And so he reinforced that ovation had less to do with my personal value, but how it benefited the bearer.

That being said, on Branwen Appreciation Day I expected platitudes like “you sing pretty” and “it was nice working with you.” I would have been fine with that. However, many of the comments were touchingly thoughtful, kind, and meaningful. I found myself flustered and uncomfortable by the accolades.

I’m ridiculously tough. I’m a die-hard survivor. Yet I find time and time again that it’s not the trials and travails, acrimony and disdain that bring me down. It is unexpected kindness that throws me to my knees.

And once again, after such a long stretch of feeling normalized and transformed, I hate him for breaking me.

 


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