All of my little, shining, happy moments have been just that…fleeting and short natured. I blamed the universe for them and have always asked myself, “What am I supposed to be learning? What is the universe trying to teach me that isn’t getting through?” I am still not entirely certain about the answer, but I am gradually coming to an understanding as to what I have been doing wrong and why.
I self-sabotage all happiness because pain has become my identity. Without this lifelong, all-encompassing sadness, who am I? Happiness–even contentment–makes me uncomfortable, as if I am losing myself with every smile, laugh, or tender moment. Every blissful minute takes me further away from the only identity I have known. The idea of changing the core of my being is terrifying.
I cannot pinpoint when my identity was hijacked by a feeling of pain and lack of self-worth…I do remember crying in my bedroom alone during my fourth birthday because I could not articulate how overwhelming the entire day was–the presents, my friends, their parents…. Home videos depict a sad, curly-haired child in a party dress, tugging at her mother’s shirt as her friends played outside; frowning with downcast eyes and unresponsive to questions as she allowed her sister to open all of her presents. It was just all too much to handle: despite having been best friends with these kids who lived on my street since birth, I needed to be alone –in desperate need to decompress. Everyone ate hot dogs and played in the yard, and I took to the dark bedroom I shared with Irish twin sister until my mother came to fetch me.
On another occasion (maybe I was five?) I sat in the formal living room, completely silent, as my parents and siblings frantically looked for me, calling out my name, desperate in their search. No one ever spent time in the formal living room other than myself–it was a sanctuary where I would sob for hours when my parents left us with a sitter. They found me, of course, and never questioned why I had not responded to the hysteria my disappearance had caused–I only whimpered, nearly catatonic.
It was only when I became an actress and attended Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NY that teachers were cognizant of the pain masqued behind my smile. During one class, a teacher mentioned he saw “a soul of great depth and sadness” and to “stop hiding it.”
This article is inspired by my two greatest losses thus far. For the first time in my life, I was genuinely, blissfully happy every single day, but he just could not understand that, at times, I am touched with fire–the passion of an artist. I forget who I am or was…the persona of grief: someone I should be eagerly willing to shed, yet am not quite ready to abandon. I will always have a very hard time finding peace. It will always be my struggle…I only pray that one day I will be able to accept the love I am offered as easily as I am able to offer it; that the opinion I have of myself will change; that joy won’t approach me as if an unfamiliar stranger.