My demon is jealous. My demon is angry. My demon consumes me when it strikes. I can't think. I can't move. Air refuses to enter my lungs. I fight back the urge to scream as loud as I can. My entire body becomes tense and I honestly feel on fire, like I might explode. Like I'm a stick of dynamite trembling as the sparks come closer.
You know the feeling of cold water being dumped on your head and down your entire body when someone says I don't want to see you any more or when you get caught in a lie or hear shocking sad news like of a loved one's death. It's when you can't move, can't breathe, and everything stops and you feel frozen, trapped. You think 'Is this real? This isn't happening is it?' And then time speeds up again and you realize it's real, it's happening and your heart just broke. I recently had something happen to me where the cold water drowned me for a moment. I couldn't move from the couch and felt every part of my body tingling with confusion, shocked, hurt, surprise, anger, you name it. I was caught off guard by something I didn't expect to be happening. Something I was a part of that went on without me for reasons I don't understand. Something I thought I had let go of. I thought I was healed from it's initial hurt but the pain came flooding back so quickly I felt like I was in a boat that was capsizing.I fall in love with every story I tell. I become attached and committed. It's hard to watch stories I love grow without me. It happens a lot in this career. I've been in readings that have gone on to be full productions without me or any of the cast I was part of. I've done table reads of scripts that change entire teams and become something new without me. An out of town tryout may change it's leading actor when it hits the Broadway stage. It happens. It's a part of the process. You keep changing and working til it clicks.My demon is furious. This discovery is something deeper than normal. It's not the surface jealousy which now I feel foolish for feeling. It's real pain. It's personal. And it hurts more now that I don't live in New York. Living in NYC was the one point I always had. Maybe I didn't get that role but I was in New York trying. Maybe I was jealous of a peer across the country booking television roles but that was okay because I was in New York and auditioning or working on sets all the time. I could get one of the roles any day now. I was IN it still. I was validated. I hate to flashback to the failure stigma leaving New York has but it's surfaced a few times in the past week. To some people, my exiting of New York means I've given up; I've said it was 'too hard' and run away. That is untrue. I chose to leave because I wanted a new adventure, a new life, and the ability to create more than I was in the city. When I found out this recent news, I realized I had lost the NYC point and to some, it may seem like I wasn't a part of it because of that fact. And for me personally, it was a hard blow because I couldn't build myself back up by walking outside in the greatest city in the world and feeling okay with myself and what was going on in my life. The demon was winning.Words started filling my head. Words filled with hate and anger, expressing my feeling of betrayal and abandonment. I tried to swallow them but they kept pushing their way to the tip of my tongue. The demon started grabbing at all the other things that have been building up around me and laid them on top of me, crushing me down further and further into a dark hole I know all too well. The questions took over the malicious words. Why not me? What did I do wrong? Why are they so happy without me? Why am I so far behind? How do I catch up? Is what I'm doing not good enough? Everyone will think I wasn't good enough. Everyone will think I've failed. Everyone will know now. This was such a public thing. Everyone will think I did something wrong and it's my fault.My demon was full strength.I couldn't sleep. I started writing this. I felt better. I slept. I woke up with the heavy rock in my stomach you get when you've been through some sort of intense anguish. I took some time and thought about why my demon was out and about and what I could do about it.The answer sadly was 'not much'. What I can do is remember I have a lot of incredible things in my life. Next to that, remember that I actively chose to leave New York and pursue making movies of my own. Remember I AM making movies, mine and others, that are making an impact and telling stories I want to tell and be a part of. I have to remind myself that my demon forgets I am happy and content in so many ways. I am old enough to stop caring what people assume about me. My demon keeps pushing me to scream facts from the rooftops but it won't change anything. Damage is done. It's been done a while now and I am almost ashamed how I have reacted to something I knew was inevitable. I have to let go.The acting business is hard. I feel left out a lot or too far behind and my demon feeds off that. I have realized I can be naive still about how it all works. Sometimes you're on the bus together and other times, you are thrown underneath it. Sometimes you're useful and sometimes you're used. Everyone is trying to make it in their own way and I need to steel my heart more. I need to keep my eyes open and remember in this career, people are blindsided by what they can have and speed off in the bus, forgetting you're waiting at the stop for them.I may have lost the New York bonus point but in it's place, I've found a community of people with passion. People who listen to ideas and keep promises. People who want to tell stories, make movies, and put on plays because they LOVE to. I think that's what I've wanted for a long time and it shows because I have more going on in my life now than I did in the past few years in the city. I actually have a schedule that includes shoot dates and meetings about directing plays. That's a point right there.My demon is still hanging on with its claws to the other side of it; the side that wants to be in big movies and have that bit of fame to prove I made it, I achieved the dream. The portion of me that wants to have the messages flooding in from people I haven't spoken to in years about how they saw me in that thing or always knew I'd be famous. To get those 'likes' and shares and whatever the fuck Internet fame is these days. It's the side that is also angry and wants to throw a temper tantrum until someone looks at her, feels for her, sides with her.But I can't let it win. I have let it win in the past but I can't this time. For a million reasons, I can't give in. It's so tempting to take that low road. It looks so nice and warm and vengeful. But I'm going to wait for it. I'm going to take the high road. I'm going to gather my supplies and wait. And keep working to my dreams, my goals. It hurts. It didn't hurt just me which is why I still hear my demon tapping its foot, waiting for me to break. But the one positive thing my demon has always done for me is motivate me to be better. To be stronger. To focus. To get revenge by taking the road less traveled and arriving there with something more.We all have our demons. Mine won't ever go away. I hope it doesn't. It reminds me of the choices I've made and the choices I can make. I can choose to keep going. I can choose to be wiser about what to trust. I can choose to answer the questions I'm getting from this situation with a calm politeness instead of words dripping with disdain that I really want to say but I know it's better I don't.It won't be the last time a struggle of this nature enters my life. I'm sure something else along the way will raise the demon up and I won't have the New York point to save me. I'll have something better.
Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.”
-Yes Please, Amy Poehler (it's a good book, guys)