Baring It All
Shameless. You’re shameless.
Good girls? Don’t do that.
You were asking for it.
You don’t deserve that.
You’re not worth it.
This is for my sister, my mother, my female professor
For the athlete, the waitress, and HER in the back.
For me. For she. For us.
For he. For him, for they, for them, for all. For everyone: the everyman, the layman, the I-the all-the great. The too late.
For my speed dial number seven
For every time you see the number 11:11.
This is our song.
This is for we.
This is for US.
These past few months, my personal work has been sludge-deep in shame. Spelunking right into the caverns of guilt and worthlessness. Delving into cultural conditioning, peeling apart my stories and relationships. Siphoning resistance and attachments. Clawing and digging until I tapped into a veritable geyser of shame-shit.
This Halloween weekend I had the honor and privilege of performing at an event called “Unseen”— a night of exploring and celebrating our Shadows. A container to call out your secreted inner darkness: the fears, the judgments, desires suppressed.
So when I first heard about this event I felt a full-body shiver and spine tingle. Already I could feel its potency, gravitas, and alchemy AND I had a gut-deep knowingness that I was meant to share something and a heart-filled wisdom that it was time for me meant to HEAL something. That gut feeling would not go away. In the coming weeks my dear friend Joel reflected to me in a passing conversation, “Maelyn, I don’t even know if many people in the community know you are a performer!” And there. There it was.
The reason my intuition would not quit nudging and prodding and poking me with growing persistence? This storyteller, this actress, this heartist: had not yet showed up with the fullness of her offerings and soul to contribute to community. How could I possibly heal my heart if I had never even shared my heart?
Hours before the event I was confirmed to perform. GULP! I had ideas. Stories circling, possible characters and themes…but nothing specific written, staged, or rehearsed. This was an edge for me. As a performer I prefer to be polished and prepared. And yet, somehow this was just the right context to craft and create: fully raw and organic. Alrighty then. Game time. With the invaluable support of Mirror Casey, I spent the afternoon devising, exploring, and building the skeleton of my piece…When I stepped on that stage I was in complete surrender, trusting (and not altogether entirely sure what was about to come out of my mouth.)
As a performer there is very particular magic that occurs in live theatre. A special, soul-level contract that asks:
If I step out onto that stage and fully surrender, can I trust you?
If I step out onto that stage *fully* exposed, will you hold me?
If I step out onto that stage and give myself to you, will you give yourself back?
It’s rather like life, don’t you think?
So as I walked out onto that stage in a wedding dress, I abandoned all my fears and doubts of not-good-enough, not-ready-enough, not-right-enough, and took my place center stage, I surrendered.
And I felt held. I felt heard. I was answered. I was joined.
What I had not anticipated was just how healing and empowering and heartbreaking the experience would be for me. I think my heart broke and shattered open a hundred times last night. Who knew darkness could beget such LIGHT. Every hug, every performance, every dance, and passing-by smile through the halls blasted me more and more open. Who knew speaking out loud your most private and loathsome stories, your actions of reproach, your periods of sin, the times of trauma would be…liberating, funny, fulfilling, peaceful…positive?
The characters you met last evening are real. The stories, all true. Many my own. Others my family’s—soul family, blood family, adopted family. A pastiche of pain and separation, a collage of dis-connection, and a tapestry of love and unshackling.
Thank you beautiful community for trusting. For listening. For exposing your hearts and pain. Thank you for dancing in the dark. Your demons are beautiful. Your darkness is valuable. Thank you for your presence and support. A year ago I lived with my dark, invisible. Today I live with my darkness made visible.
They call me
the Siren of Shame
she’s sassy, too slutty
get Shit-faced, a slow-study
Let me be your Shame Savant
“When people begin to tell their stories, everything changes, because not only are you legitimised in the telling of your story and are you found, literally, like you matter, you exist in the telling of your story, but when you hear your story be told, you suddenly exist in community, and with others.”