Thursday, May 09, 2013

Breaking Free

It was perfect. I woke up ... because I was done sleeping. One of those awesome mornings when you stretch and yawn and roll over and you have no idea what time it is or what day it is and you really don't care.
Until you realize.
Today is the day. THE DAY. Listen to Your Mother.

Four hours to go.
So I get up, get coffee, begin to prepare as I would any other day. Tony knows I’m nervous and he knows how I am when I'm nervous, so he gives me wide berth. My kids love Sunday mornings, when their only task is to make sure they have school clothes ready for tomorrow and then they're free to spend their time as they choose. They choose to play Pokemon-Dragon-Battle-Barbie-Minecraft-something in their rooms. I sit down to check email and Facebook and Words with Friends and Candy Crush (you know, all the important stuff), and I get a ping that tells me my horoscope is ready. And it says:
If you want to continue to make career or social progress, today is a good day to avoid others, keep to yourself, and keep quiet if you do find yourself in a group of people. You might say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
You know, never mind the fact that I'm going to be standing in front of 400 or so of the strangest strangers with a few friends and acquaintances sprinkled in and I'm going to be baring my personal story this very afternoon. Yeah. That.
Three and a half hours to go.
This is madness. I'm so nervous. Weepy. Facebook is blowing up with posts and comments, which helps to keep me distracted. Watching the news. Trying to keep myself busy, so I take the pile of stuff on the counter by the stove and straighten it up. Move it to the counter by the sink. Move it to the table. Have more coffee. Ponder my horoscope. Move it to the little table in the living room. Take deep breaths. Wish I had time for a run. Look at my children and think how proud I am of them, that "I'm doing this all for them!" until it makes them uncomfortable and they shut the door.
A pile of ironed hankies to
give to my castmates.
I break out the ironing board to iron handkerchiefs that I’m bringing along to share with my castmates. I look at the patterns and think of which one I think each person will pick. I even iron my dress (that was for my mom, who irons pretty much everything), and it’s tricky because my hands are literally shaking.
I snuggle up with Tony to watch a little SportsCenter. “You’re going to be fine,” he assures me. But still my heart jumps, and I think about my horoscope and how it’s challenging me. I’d told my castmates a few days prior, when I’d had a similar freak-out, that I was quitting; “I’m just not going to do it and everything will be fine!” It was half in jest, but the thought of not doing it was so soothing. I’m not a natural-born risk-taker. I much prefer to stay in my little, dark challenge-free corner.
I check Facebook again, and again my new LTYM family was there, offering words of support. Misti posted a morning mediation that said in part: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” and Lisa posted a picture that so beautifully captured that idea, a sculpture breaking free from a wall. We’re all sharing in the same emotion, even before we meet. I refuse to fear my ability to succeed. I refuse to succumb to the dark corner. I think of my horoscope again and I refuse to be defined by it. I tell myself, “I can do this.”
Time to get ready. I shave my legs with shaky hands so my knees aren’t stubbly over the tops of my cowboy boots that pay homage to my dad. I put on the dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding. My lucky four-leaf clover sweater clips. Pearls Tony bought for me while he was deployed in Qatar when I was pregnant with Lauren. Tuck the hankie from mom in my purse. Then it’s lunch for the kids, the babysitter arrives and then we’re leaving. On the drive, I realize I don’t have my script and it freaks me out. Will I be ready? Deep breaths.
I walk into the theatre and the shaking stops. There are just a few of us at first, Misti helping with production and Sheradee and I backstage. Then one by one, each cast member arrives until we are all here and you can feel that the nerves are being pushed out by the love and support and the belief we share in one another.
Close to showtime, I’m standing in the corner, thinking over the quick run-through we just did, the audience I can hear arriving outside. My natural instinct is to find a dark corner and pull in and regroup. But that’s not what I’m here to do. So I defy my instinct and walk myself up to a group of these former strangers and join in; and I am welcomed, quite literally with open arms. 
LTYM-OKC 2013 Cast (my tribe)
Back row: Lisa, Brooke, Erika, Amy, Sheradee, Alexandra, Julie
Front row: Liz, CW, Barb, Me, Suzanne, Jennifer, Carolyn, Heather, Misti
And then we’re heading for the stage after getting cast pictures and then we’re going to the mic and the audience is cheering and clapping and laughing and quiet and we’re doing it. When it’s my turn, I take my deep breath and march up to the mic. What about my horoscope? I start talking, hankie knotted in my hand and trying to be slow and I realize that I’m not as scared as I was back when I first read this at the table a few weeks ago. The audience reaction is soothing, boosts my confidence and encourages me to take my time and do the best job that I can. And I tell the room a rambling, funny, emotional story about the first time I had sex interwoven with the story of my daughter's birth and the time she spent in the NICU while my husband was deployed and now when people hear the song "Feel Like Making Love," they might not hear it the same way. Sorry about that.
Then it’s over. I walk back to my seat and Heather pops up to hug me and it was the best hug in the world. I was grinning like a fool back there in my seat, surrounded by and offering up so much love and support among these amazing stories, all so different but all so shared.
When we met as a cast the first time, Misti, Heather and Julie told us that we would be forever changed. I could never have imagined just how much.


  1. I'm changed too. For the better. <3

  2. I'm so glad you didn't listen to your horoscope--even after you smoothied your dress on the patio before the show.