Two years before COVID-19 spread around the world I was already facing one of the biggest challenges of my life. My creative life was in transformation.
I had worked for years to establish myself as a theatre arts influencer, working for major arts organizations to further education and community engagement. I was at the top of my career — title and power were my allies — but then I dared to speak the two scariest words in any executive boardroom: systemic racism.
The reaction I got was not what I expected. After all, I had proved my loyalty. My work ethic was evident in the development of new programs and the deepening of others. Clearly, I was one of them. But to my horror I learned that I was never one of them really. Yes, their words echoed in my ears, but the words that I heard within myself cut the deepest.
“What’s wrong, you know you can pass.” I realized slowly that I had sold myself out to fit in, to be a leader in their white privileged art world, which had never accepted me. I had tokenized myself and forgotten the teachings of my abuela: “Don’t let them know your power, don’t give it away for free, never allow anyone’s views to define you, and don’t forget where you came from.”
I was living the American nightmare of valuing who I was based on my salary, my status, my education. And now faced with my own reality, I was lost in self-examination.
A cloud of dark depression enveloped my spirit as I began the deep descent into self-reflection. I was one of them, reflected back to myself, and trying to assess who I had become. After I was fired, I could not see my own strength, but all the fragmented, shattered parts of me. Perhaps this was my midlife crisis.
I questioned my work, my abilities, my talents, my reason for living. I was living the American nightmare of valuing who I was based on my salary, my status, my education. And now faced with my own reality, I was lost in self-examination. I questioned what good, if any, I had brought to this world.
My marriage suffered on account of the rage I felt, my daughter was the lifeline that brought joy and laugher to my days. My prayers were begging sessions with a Goddess I had lost contact with, because I could only see the numbers dwindling in my bank account as a poor reflection of my value. Poverty was my blanket of self-comfort and she was cold and mean-hearted and whispered unkind words to me daily. I lived in tormented self-doubt.
Then COVID stepped in to save me. The first month I spent in pajamas and in bed but, somehow, I wasn’t alone anymore. Everyone around me was feeling the isolation of self-reflection too. The darkness slowly began to transform into a cocoon of possibilities as the world collapsed into itself.
I had died a slow physical death. There was no big bang for me but a slow evolution and rebirth. I began to create space in my home for myself. After living for 10 years in our house, I had never been intentional about sacred, creative space. My office was the dumping ground for unused items and storage for things no longer needed. My coworker was my four-legged creative who reminded me to move internally daily and with purpose.
I had to feed her and comfort her as she aged though illness after illness. In this world of isolation, I magically reconnected with sisters around the world. Many I have known for 20-30 years. I fired up my long neglected alter and began to feel the surge of energy that comes up when you plug in a good lamp, long unused. The lightbulb was still good and with every click it became brighter.
I asked for help instead of assuming people knew I needed it. I garnered my courage with every simple act of clearing up spaces and filling them with kind self-talk and compassionate self-love. I slowly stopped comparing myself to others and threw myself into joyful, creative work. I began to see that there is enough in the world, and that I don’t need to judge my portion as less than. I surrendered to the darkness and was reminded that out of darkness, light is born – we are renewed once again so that we can follow our path.
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