My Initiation into Truly Being Seen…
I remember opening the comments section from my Vice documentary on Youtube and feeling SHOCKED. I was 28, in the height of my Saturn’s Return. People had written things like: “These women deserve to die” and “What a waste of human life”. People also wrote things like: “I wanna fuck her” or “She is only good for one thing”.
And a few wrote the occasional: “They are so brave.”
It was a lot to swallow at the time. Physically, I was full, a bit scared, but also EXHILARATED that I had made a splash, FINALLY.
I trekked via the L train to my handsome ad agency exec during the day, energy worker/shamanic healer by night in the West Village, when I started to feel too much negativity around me, from all the people looking at me. We did something called a “limpia” and the negative vibes got funneled into a raw egg, which I tossed in a trash can in Manhattan and said: “Ciao for now!”
Being seen felt WILD, but also, so exciting.
I felt naked and exposed as I walked over cobblestone streets, and onto big crosstown main ones, and with each set of eyes upon my skin, I wondered:
“Were they one of the three million people who watched me in my film for Vice where I was clad in a bikini for most of the time?”
“Or, are they simply looking at me because I have that ‘je ne sais quoi’?”
“Or, is my hair looking cray today?”
I would never know the exact verdict…
Hot gazes fell upon my skin on the subway, sideways stares darted at me in line at Whole Foods in Union Square as I gripped my Kombucha close… and it was hard to tell… what was my imagination and what was truth?
It didn’t matter. I was getting initiated into truly being SEEN and not attaching my self-worth to what people thought of my artistic work.
That wasn’t easy at first. I had scary dreams. I felt shame about the work my collaborator and I had put into the world. I wanted to hide, to leave Manhattan and go somewhere where I could feel more invisible. But, I stayed.
Over the last ten years, fourteen million people have watched our film, where we went to live at the truck stop strip club. It was meant to be the first in a series called “Every Woman” where we lived with women living within taboo worlds, and got to walk in their shoes (sometimes literally, with those mile-high lucite heels!). Next on the list: choosing life in a convent, living in a feminist commune, or the next one we shot as a TV pilot: living with women who had chosen to be unhoused and living a life of train-hopping and hitchhiking through the west…
(Yes, I slept on the street in Arkansas and hitchhiked through Missouri…)
Even though we didn’t make the whole series, we made something that many people watched. I exposed my curiosity about women’s choices and why some things outside the status quo are considered so fringe, or strange, to many of us.
I will never forget the feeling of that much exposure and light, and what it did to me. It opened me to feel I could be seen and it didn’t have to mean things about me personally…
My work was its own. It didn’t have to define me.
I was the channel, and then I put it out into the world, et VOILA, it was on its own journey.
I could fail and pick myself up again.
I could get a negative or positive review.
A few years earlier, when I was 24, I had not been able to receive praise and love in that way. My feature film was playing in a film festival at a cinema in the West Village, and as I stood in front of the audience afterwards, I could feel nothing. I was terrified.
I dissociated. I froze. I shut down.
Even though Variety Magazine wrote such a lovely review (which I later framed! I framed all my good press from that time.). But, I still couldn’t receive the love and attention. I was impenetrable. I was in a freeze and nothing would reach me.
I remember wondering: “Why can’t I enjoy this? I have a film playing in NYC! I have just been written about in the Wall St. Journal and Variety!”
But, my receiving channels were closed in many ways.
I was open to receive praise and press, which is a huge step!
But, not to feel the ride of it all…
In 2020, when my book came out (at age 36) and I read beautiful words in InStyle, Refinery29, Pop Sugar, and many other places about my book… this time, I could FEEL it. I was able to hop up and down HAPPILY and enjoy the bounty!
This is it… we open, we close… energetically, we are always saying yes or no to the moment, to praise, to a compliment…
I’ve been doing this dance since before then… since I was 21 and put on my first play that I directed and got feedback and reviews from friends and family on back then… so, it’s been 17 years of walking this path, and I am still walking it.
I’m daring to write a new kind of book now, and though at first I thought it wouldn’t get bought by a publisher because it is not just self-help, indeed it did get bought, and I get to write a new type of work that I am so excited about. (Yahoo!)
RISKS. They are required for soul-making. It is required that you put some skin in the game as you create.