A year ago I thought I was at the end of a process. The road to Good Girl had been full of obstacles to overcome and cliffs to jump from, but I had done it, and it felt fantastic. I remember feeling the weight being lifted from me as I threw all the pain and rage the months of work has dredged from deep inside me into the words coming out of my mouth, and no matter how many nerves I felt or mistakes I made, none of it mattered. In the end, no one remembered the missed words or the fact that I buttoned my blazer all crooked. What they remembered was the victory in my eyes at the end.
I’ve written a few times about the healing process and the lessons I’ve learned since the show. The work healing leaves behind. The illness still to heal. The tools yet to learn. I made mistakes. I lost people. Love. Friends. Trust. I tried to do what I thought was best, but I wasn’t yet equipped. So, I got sick.
Hollywood lies to us about nervous breakdowns. They’re not always a single moment of complete self-destruction and devastation. Sometimes it’s months of standing outside yourself screaming “why are you doing this?!?” Sometimes it’s knowing you’re pushing people away and watching them go and not knowing how to make it stop. Sometimes it’s losing yourself, because while purging the parts that no longer served me I failed to care for the budding parts of me that were genuine and healthy, and they were dying. I was dying.
The first time I shared my video was hard. “It’s heavy,” I warned people before they watched it. It was the same feeling I had when found me at the theatre to tell me how strong I was or how much they liked it. I know I had done something big, but I didn’t know how to accept that I may have caused an emotional reaction in others. I didn’t want pity, I didn’t want sadness, I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently. I avoided the video for a long time. It was one thing for me to be performing it, focused on the audience and the words and the stage positions. It was quite another to watch it without distractions.
It was a new love who finally got me to watch it. We watched together, and it took all of my willpower not to talk over it or give it the Mystery Science Theater treatment. He had wanted to know that part of me, and it was not my place to ruin that experience for him, so we sat on the couch together one night and watched the girl on the screen pour her heart out to us both. This love told me he admired me for the work I’d done, for the strength I possessed, for all the things I had not yet learned to acknowledge. He saw the things that were dying, and as I began to lose my grasp on them I lost him, too, and I questioned all the work I had done.
Yesterday marked a year since opening night. I wrote a post to commemorate the anniversary, and at the last moment I linked the video. There was no warning, no worry, and no way to know what would come of it, but by the end of the day I had no less than five message from people who had never seen the video before telling me how much they needed it. No pity, no praise, just thanks for being a guide on a road they were just beginning.
Good Girl gave me a new chance to live my life and to develop new tools, but it also gave me the responsibility to share my stories and help those who feel alone on their paths. Hearing from peers how inspired they were to find their strength and take a stand in their own lives reminded me that I am a warrior, a healer, and a teacher, and while I have a lot of work yet to do I’ve also come a long way on my journey.
Good Girl wasn’t the end of a process, it was the beginning of a revolution. Again, my story is not unique but that’s why I must keep telling it. Together our stories will set us free.
Go now, be free.