It was Feb 12, 2014. I was in the middle of rehearsal a few days before the premiere of my One Woman Musical called “Give It All Away.” I stopped in the middle of a line and looked at my director. “Tanya, what happens if in the middle of the show I totally forget my lines?” Obviously, my fears were talking!
Tanya looked at me and said, “Whatever you do Linda, don’t abandon yourself.”
This really struck me and I “stayed with myself” throughout the two premiere performances. I stayed with myself as I sung some horrible, strained, scratchy, dehydrated notes. I stayed with myself as I lost all feeling in my hands and could no longer stretch my hands to an octave. I stayed with myself through the fear and vulnerability of it all as I shared the depth of my life and soul with the audience. I stayed with my scared self-doubting self, whispering “I love and believe in you, Linda.” I did exactly what Tanya told me to do. I didn’t abandon myself.
A few months later I was suddenly flooded with the words again: “Linda, don’t abandon yourself!”
A lightning bolt epiphany hit me and suddenly I could see the various ways I had abandoned myself in my life. I had abandoned my creative self at 22 when I gave up music, thinking that I just wasn’t good enough. When I became a wife and mom I began to abandoned my voice, my needs, my self-care for everyone else. This took me down a road of physical and emotional depletion that lead to illness and feeling like I lost myself.
I misinterpreted my pain by mistakenly thinking that I had been abandoned by someone else; that maybe my husband had abandoned me; or that the world had abandoned me; or that even God had abandoned me; I was angry and wanted to blame someone or something for my emptiness and malnourishment; for my loss of self and self esteem and power. How did I have anything to do with it? I had done everything right Goddmamit! I had given everything! So why did I feel so frickin’ crappy?
But the simple plain truth was that… I had abandoned myself.
And the simple plain truth was that… the power to reclaim myself was mine and mine alone. It was not the job of any of my relationships to renew or “find” me. Looking to be rescued by anything other than me was giving my power away.
Paradoxically, that’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of liberation! It was within me. Yeah! But I needed to take responsibility for my life. Yikes!
This universal struggle and tendency to abandon ourselves runs rampant, especially when the going gets tough. And that’s when we need ourselves the most! Most commonly, when a relationship goes bad, we abandon ourselves by thinking that we are unlovable, or broken. We are in incredible pain from the loss of our relationship. But I bet that much of our pain, that we don’t even realize, comes from the fact that we have abandoned our love for ourselves in the process. We also abandon ourselves to endless tasks and To Do lists, forgetting that we must live from the inside out. We abandon ourselves by dismissing our hopes and dreams, not trusting our own light and voice. We push ourselves in corners and cover up the unique gifts we bring to the world. We abandon ourselves when we push ourselves to give more and more when we are depleted, instead of taking the time to nourish ourselves. We abandon ourselves when we become filled with negativity, blame, rage. We plug the holes of our “instrument” and close ourselves off to the renewing, creative, positive energy of the universe.
My Solo Show taught me the importance of never abandoning myself on the stage or in my life. If I can stay true to myself, nurture and love myself and not abandon myself to self doubt, anger, depletion, or victim stories…than I will always be as I’m supposed to be – full of light, hope, creativity and love.
My Solo Show is called “Give It All Away.” In my life I learned the subtle yet importance difference buried in this phrase. We are not meant to give away our light so that we become dim and abandon ourselves. You can’t give much with a weak flame. Rather we are meant to oxygenate and nurture our light, fanning the flame so so that we can Give It All Away from our greatest fullness.