Like I've mentioned before, it's hard for me to verbalize what being a part of the inaugural 2012 Chicago show did for me, to me - how I changed.
I did read this the other day, and for now, it's the best I can do to explain it
"When I am heard, I feel validated and I'm more open to hearing others. It's a wonderful circle."
"My life changed because I changed myself"
"Now, I smile with awareness and rejoice in gratitude. I wrestle with fear, anger and hurt. A new spirit drives me. I don't doubt my authenticity; there is a new voice I call my own. I feel a new power within."
I was heard
And, because I was heard I did feel validated. It took awhile to get there. It's taken me awhile to get comfortable with the words that I wrote.
I let go of a lot of feelings and felt very raw and exposed. That is such a scary place to be. For me, it's where "you are wrong" hides.
And in the moment of the show, in the rehearsals prior and in the meetings with alumni since the beauty of what is shared on stage is what resonates the loudest. It's the authenticity. For me, it was me showing strangers and loved ones who I was, for the very first time.
One of the things that I stopped doing when I got pregnant with Cody back in 1998 was stop writing. Writing up to that point was like breathing for me. I just did it. And then, one day, I stopped. Not only that, but I didn't put any thought into writing again until submissions where being considered for the 2012 Listen to Your Mother show in Chicago.
And I was absolutely terrified doing it. For over thirteen years I slowly believed that my words did not matter, to my self or to others. That what I thought and believed were not valid in any way. I had, in a sense, lost myself and I was not happy, at all.
Submitting "Stifle" for consideration chipped a small corner off of a very strong facade that allowed the possibility of hope to seep in. That maybe, someone would want to hear my words and that they mattered.
I remember sitting at the first rehearsal and thinking that I absolutely did not belong in that room, at all!. Who did I think that I was? What did I get myself into?
I want to tell you that your words matter. What you believe, what you think, who you are - it all matters.
Since sharing my story on stage at the Biograph Theater in 2012 I have ever so slowly become more comfortable with being exposed, with being authentic.
My love for Listen to Your Mother Chicago is rooted in that! Because it absolutely did change me.
Submissions for the 2015 Chicago show of Listen to Your Mother are being accepted through 11:59pm Thursday, January 22nd (that's tomorrow, by the way).
I'll share my video from that show again below, but in addition to that I want to share my words, too. This is the first time I've every shared what I've written on my blog, but I'm ready to do that now.
My Dear Son,
I want you to know that I tried. That I really, really tried. But, you see, you cannot force someone to change. They have to want to change. Though do realize that I have come to a place of indifference, and it was hard to get there. I had to wade through hate and anger thick like tar. What I want you to know is that I will always fight for what is best for you. I've been doing it for so long.
You see my dear son no matter what happens, what he says, what he does, what he promises and then breaks and how he lays his best intentions down, it will never be good enough for you. I will always be propelled back to the parking lot of that hot dog stand where on a hot summer day, 7 months pregnant and my car packed with most of my belongings - he wasn't ready
To move in together
To become a father
“My mom gave up one of her children for adoption. You can always do that.”
Adoption. He wanted me to give you up for adoption because I asked for his help in raising you. Because I asked him to step up.
He had an epiphany while watching an Adam Sandler movie. He wasn't ready to be a dad. A fucking Adam Sandler movie made him have an epiphany.
Do you know what I remember from that day? The sheet of Malcolm X stamps that he was using as a bookmark, the air thick with steamed poppy seed buns and that it was as I was driving away that I chose your name. I chose. I chose to take responsibility for my actions, I chose to be an adult, I chose to do the next right thing for the both of us. And I have tried my best this whole time my dear son.
When I told your father that I was pregnant I had to do it in the alley behind the club his band was playing at. On the way back to his apartment we stopped for food at Wendy’s. In the drive thru he asked me to marry him. I told him that just because I was pregnant didn't mean that I was going to marry him. That, my dear son, was one of the best decisions that I have made for the both of us.
Do you know that it took a court order for him to finally start spending time with you on a regular basis? How sad is that? His band, his girlfriend, his social life, his recreational activities were all more important than you. They still are.
I consider that one of the worst mistakes I've made for the both of us. Forcing him to be a father.
How can you force someone to do something that they don’t want to do? How can you force someone to change who they are? You can’t.
I have lost countless hours of sleep and have been hurled into daylight paranoia worrying about your well being while you have been with your father.
Will he change your diaper? Or will you get diaper rash so bad you can’t sit, again?
Remember to give you a bath?
Not become too drunk?
Will he always have an eye on you in public?
Will he let you play too close to the water?
Will he bring you back?
I've contemplated the feasibility of a child GPS devise.
I've been held in the grip of irrational fear so strong that I couldn't move. “What if he wants to move in with his father when he’s 14?” I would ponder. My eyes darting from your Bob the Builder comforter to your Elmo.
I have worked through and continue to work through the rage, anger and disdain that I have for your father. What I fear is what he is doing to you.
When he doesn't show up on time to pick you up over and over again.
When he chooses to do anything other than spend time with you on the weekends he has you.
Are you sad my dear son? Sad, that same kind of sad you expressed when talking about me and your father not ever being together. That kind of sad. The sad that was in your eyes when your grandmother, asked him and I in slurred beer filled shock why we never made it work right in front of you. “It just wouldn't have worked out.” I responded.
My dear son, it is YOU who has made me the person who I am today. The mother, the woman. With merciless love I have fought for you. I have discarded the person who I used to be to evolve and transform into a mother fit for you. You have and will always come first. Without a question. Without a doubt.