08 May She Was a Successful Child Actor With Painful Demons; How She Slayed Them and Redefined Success
Posted at 18:41h in Dating & Recovery Articles, Healing Toxic Shame, Inner Child Work 0 CommentsSeveral years ago when I was at a particularly low point in my life; I was a failing actress in an emotionally abusive relationship, one woman's story changed the way I defined success. For seven years I was an active participant in the Al-Anon 12-step program which I credit for helping me completely turn my life around, and it was in one of these meetings that I heard Julia's (a pseudonym) story. Julia was a fair-skinned, strawberry blonde with hidden eyes and bitten down nails. She always sat in the back of this thirty to fifty person meeting. I rarely noticed her because her withdrawn, tomb-silent energy made her invisible; almost a cypher in a room of messy, emotional, larger-than-life people fighting to recover from volatile, dramatic pasts. Months went by and Julia simply listened, then darted away ten minutes before the meeting ended in order to avoid post-meeting socializing. Then one June morning I entered the meeting to find Julia sitting in the front row, dead center. She was veritably shaking with nerves and near hyperventilation when the meeting began. Once the preliminary portion of the meeting was over the Al-Anon speaker for the day opened the meeting up for sharing. To my utter surprise Julia's hand shot in the air as if it had a will of its own. Julia was selected to share her story. Already tears were coursing down her face. She told us she never thought she would ever share her story, but her body psychotherapist said she needed to as part of her recovery from a traumatic childhood. (Here is a concise definition of body psychotherapy based on the work of Freud contemporary William Reich.) Julia began by telling us that her parents started taking her to professional acting auditions when she was just a toddler, and that well into her early teens Julia booked job after job; in commercials, television shows and even on Broadway. Then somewhere in her mid-teens Julia had a complete nervous breakdown and was incapable of auditioning or performing any longer. By the time she was in her early twenties she'd begun having periods of dissociation which included vast memory loss of the far distant and immediate past, the frequent sense that she was outside of her body looking down at it and thoughts about suicide.