UghDecember 18th, 2007
I just got back from acting class.
It’s strange to spend my life trying to recognize, sort through, and ultimately discard layers of sludge and useless “self”, then plop myself down in acting class–a room full of 24-year old blondes and their male counterparts–where I immediately take a nosedive into the murky, smelly fishtank of self. IT IS THE MOST INSECURE EXPERIENCE I’VE HAD IN A LONG TIME.
Talk about painful! I’ve been reading a lot about narcissism lately (a fascinating topic for any chick who has beaten her lovely head against a charming, engaging, but utterly immovable mountain of man-self—or vice versa, for male readers). Anyway, for a narcissist, the only real pain comes from what is called “narcissistic injury”, which is a blow to the fixed image they have of themselves as perfect, fabulous, or whatever. This blow creates a hole in their shimmery armor that is usually met with denial but, if acknowledged, comes face-to-face with the dragon of rage.
Welcome to my acting class.
But let me back up a little: I find ego-deflation liberating, albeit painful. And, to give myself a little credit here, I’ve done quite a bit of it; the eating disorder I carried through adolescence began to crumble in the face of spiritual growth and ego-reduction. I’ve meditated a hundred different ways and really dig that moment where thought just melts and my soul exhales. Ahhh, the freedom of selflessness! And although I could do a lot more of it, I really enjoy being of service to other people and the feeling of universal connectedness it brings.
BUT DON’T MESS WITH MY ACTING. Don’t critique it. Don’t punch holes in it. Don’t remind me that I’m not a 24-year old blonde with the world opening up to her like a rose. This part of my “self”, I want locked down in a shiny little box called “confidence” to which only I hold the key, thank you veddy much. And when my stupid, boring, totally unworthy-of-my-time acting teacher picks up that key and starts picking at the lock, my narcissistic dragon spits fire at him: “DON’T YOU SEE, MISTER STUPID ACTING TEACHER, THAT I HAVE NO HUMILITY HERE!!!! WHAT IS YOUR FREAKING PROBLEM?? JUST LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!!”
I bet Cate Blanchett is just the same.
I guess I just need to trust, as we all do, that when our egos are challenged–whether it’s by spouses, children, bosses or acting teachers–there is a big Self underneath the rigid armor. That the universe is holding me up, while splinters of ego fly everywhere… that maybe there is a box much bigger than my little shiny one marked “confidence”.
Or some kind of bull like that.
I am off to England tomorrow, where I will be with my macro mother. We will cook together, and share our stories, and I will nurse my narcissistic wound. As we watch British TV, and I complain about my stupid acting class–comparing myself favorably to Judi Dench and Helen Mirren–my dragon’s fury will quietly cool down and the hole my stupid, boring, TOTALLY UNWORTHY acting teacher created will become a secret, magical opening to my future. And I’ll go back to class in January.
Do you invite the dissolution of self? How does it feel? During and after? How does the macrobiotic diet help dissolve the little self?