Emoting

As I gear up for this acting gig, I’m doing online research to supplement the classes I’m taking locally in order to become a better performer. Tonight, I came across an instructional video that had me wincing and looking away.

Developing Your Emotional Range.”

As the coach in the video said, most of us have experienced something in our lives, maybe several somethings, that caused us to shut down parts of our emotions. We no longer access those parts of our hearts, mostly in an effort to protect ourselves from a repeat of the trauma.

I’ve said over and over that “I don’t do emotions.” I have a hard time being emotionally honest, and I have a harder time letting others see my emotions. That’s one of the reasons why I like the internet: it keeps me removed from actual feelings. I only feel what I choose to feel, and I can turn off the computer at any time to avoid feeling anything else. I can pretend to feel more than I do, using careful words and smilies. 😉

That’s not how we humans are meant to live. We shouldn’t be ruled by our emotions, but we need to let them have their proper place in our lives. As a crude example, we don’t need to have stinky armpits, but if we block off the sweat glands, we can cause damage to our bodies. Sweat serves a variety of healthy functions in our lives, and stopping sweating can make us very sick. There are ways to deal with the odor and stains that don’t involve self-harm.

I’ll be honest: I’m not looking forward to letting myself feel things or letting others see them. I can laugh and joke and make merry because I consider those safe. Crying in public or having a “bad heart day”, however, are not safe.

I got in trouble for being emotional when I was a child. My family is very loving, but we’re not gushers. I was told not to cling, not to cry, not shout, not to trust myself with anyone. I moved around a lot as a military child, so I lost friends almost as soon as I made them. I’m smarter than a lot of people, and that became a gulf between us. I was arrogant and they were scornful, and never the twain did meet.

When the chaos of puberty landed on me, I not only had no tools in my hands to deal with it, but I had no support, no arms to cry into as I learned how to navigate the storm. When I became a legal adult, I had no idea what to do with my emotions, so I tucked them away and pretended they didn’t exist. And then I wondered why I fell to depression, drove off potential friends, and felt so wretchedly alone.

I looked around me and saw people drowning in drama, and I didn’t want that. Not just because I didn’t like feeling emotions but because of what I saw those people, some of them dear friends of mine, suffering because of their over-emotionalism. At least, what I termed their over-emotionalism. “If only they would think and use the brains they have,” I lamented to myself, “then they wouldn’t be in such a mess.”

I completely missed the mess I’d created in myself until crisis points happened and I didn’t just fall apart, I imploded. I shattered. I unraveled and dissolved. All the lofty scorn I’d heaped on those whose lives make for reality-TV fodder came back on my own head. In truth, I am no different than they are. I am human.

So. Now what to do. I want to be a better actor, and I want to be a healthy person. I guess I’m going to watch some movies or TV and make myself permit the emotions to flow. It’s going to be painful at first, but so was walking. Watch a 7-month-old baby sometime. She’ll be desperate to walk, but she’s going to crack her head at least a dozen times a day until she gets that darned balance thing figured out. Until her legs are strong enough to support her, she’s going to have a lot of crying fits. Until her inner ear fills out, she’s going to have a lot of bruises.

I’m glad there’s a new ten-pack of tissue boxes in the house. I may just go through them all before all’s said and done.

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