I love that I have found my voice. No, not my singing voice...trust me when I tell you I don't think I ever had a singing voice to lose...which is sad because when I was younger I wanted to be Annie on stage.
There was a time when that was all I wanted... to be on stage. I went to a drama camp several years in a row. It was a day camp that didn't involve camping and minimal exposure to mosquitoes...perfect! I never played Annie, but I did get the part of Aunt Eller in Oklahoma.
The stage was a place where I got to be somebody other than myself, where I could hold your attention. I was the kid that always got the "character" parts, never the lead...but I loved that! I had the role of Frenchie in Grease in high school (she barely sings)...still have my Pink Ladies jacket. It was my junior year. The part fit me and I loved being on that stage.
But in class I was quiet and shy, very unsure of myself. I had a nose that didn't quite fit my face which was especially tough as I grew up in Miami, FL. Every JAP (Jewish American Princess) in the school had a nose job...some even got them as a Bat Mitzvah present...at 13! In addition to my "Blossom" like nose, I had BIG curly hair (It was the 80's). Everybody had perms, but mine was natural and unruly...and I made the mistake of having it cut in layers...you can't do that with curly hair unless you want to look like a POODLE! Besides the awkwardness of being a teenager, I could not do presentations in class. I remember a teacher telling me this once, "You act on stage, so I'm surprised you had so much trouble with your presentation." It was true, I couldn't be myself.
In college I opted to become Drama Queen instead of an actress on stage... yet I still felt like I was not heard. I took a job one summer working for Pepsi. I was a Sampler, which meant I got to go to grocery stores, etc and hand out samples of soda. This is where I shined! I smiled so much that my cheeks hurt when I got home. Part of my job was to go up to people and ask them if they wanted to take the Diet Pepsi Challenge. My smile could usually win them over, and I had crowds around me. I loved that job...but I was meek and mild every other moment of my life.
I perfected the craft of Drama Queen when I was in my mid-20's. I was so needy, yet I didn't know how to get my needs met. I never stood up for myself. I put up with crappy relationships just to be in one. This carried through to my early to mid 30's...which is how I ended up with The P.A.N. Not only did I lose my voice with him, I lost every ounce of joy. Every moment was filled thinking about how badly he treated me and what I wasn't getting from the relationship. Not a single basic need was met. I tried nicely asking, then screaming, silence, sex...nothing worked. I hated him, and I loathed myself.
The day I got my voice back was some time after my divorce. I was seeing a therapist. The first thing she told me was, "I'm going to help you get through the divorce, but then we're going to work on YOU". Meaning we weren't going to re-hash what The P.A.N. had done (or not done). I was going to have to dig deep down inside and find my voice. It was going to be hard work, painful at times, humbling, refreshing and even embarrassing. I had to look at ME.
Over the past few years I've grown so much, a Method Actress if you will. I perfected my craft via beautiful, healing relationships. I've stood on the stage and delivered my lines with conviction. I've turned down roles that didn't fit. I've taken cues when I've needed to and given them as well. I studied myself. I gave myself honest reviews and worked on my craft some more.
There is no cure for being a Drama Queen, once you've learned those lines they become part of you. But you can overcome being type-cast into this role. It has been several years since I started this process, but I did finally realized that I didn't want that role of being a Drama Queen to define me. I wanted a new part, one with good character and a voice I could love and recognize as my own. No applause necessary.