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I read this piece on Rosanne Barr in New York Magazine that Carolyn posted on FaceBook last night and I woke up thinking about it.

snow globe

It takes so much courage to speak up and to overcome the shame that silences.  It’s something I’ve been wrestling with my entire life and I think that reading her words was a liberating experience for me as well as many others.  Just at the end of last year I was reassessing where to go next with my Company.  I related so much when she wrote:

I couldn’t take it any longer—the abuse, humiliation, theft, and lack of respect for my work, my health, my life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about tolerance and endurance and how the two relate to each other.  The problem with building up endurance through tolerating what maybe should be called out is that it changes the shape of what’s happening.  The good news is that it’s incredibly powerful.  That WE are incredibly powerful.  If we want, we can change the shape of things but shame tells us we can’t.  That’s the great lie.  When we buy into it it grows and surrounds us in these exterior ways.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Rooted in a lie it sets up a life that is constantly off-kilter.  This is only good if you live inside of a snow globe and enjoy the snow.

In producing the work of woman on the stage for over a decade now, this shame is something I need to always process and know intimately.  In my mind it falls under, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.  Shame is the greatest enemy I have ever had.  Professionally, it has kept me from celebrating real accomplishments because there was always something about the achievement that I should be ashamed of, no matter the level of difficulty or success.  It’s terrible.  A real living hell when you can’t get real about the beauty and grace of your own actions.

So, as my teachers always taught me, I decided to dig into it more deeply over the years.

The root of the shame in my life comes from my upbringing.  It’s hard to talk about it or even remember it.  PTSD is a powerful thing.  What I know about myself personally is:

-The world outside was much safer than my home as a child.

Strangers fascinated me.

-There was always more to discover and learn in the outside world.

There was always a teacher, a job in theatre, a cast of beautiful actors, or a character that would come along and transform everything.

Everything I ever needed appeared and never from where it was traditionally supposed to be.  It’s incredible.

-When my honest accomplishments could not be imitated and purchased for others pretending to show up in their own lives I was free.

I had to stop caring about the things I could not change and embrace what I could effect.

I will never have interest in the snow globe existence – unless it’s a staging concept.

Success in my life was undeniably defined as failure in their world and I was to feel lucky for any sort of pat on the head in the way of acknowledgement, and I see this in my career as well.  I think this is why I am relating so strongly to Roseanne’s story.

When the show went to No. 1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate “1” to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy—or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney [who played Roseanne Conner’s boss for the first season] took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.

The thing about shame being a liar is it can eat up all of your time and energy because it never makes any sense.  So, the time you spend trying to figure out nonsensical things could probably be better spent say…knitting.  Shame is a world populated with cowards.  And, cowards hide under rocks.  So, the best way to remove shame and all that comes with it is to expose everything to light.  Full disclosure.  My family stopped harassing me exactly when I said, “I will not keep your secrets.”

The one thing shame inducing entities never suspect is that they have pissed off a writer.

Those of us coming up through the blue collar ranks are rarely suspected of having any sort of intelligence.  It should be one or the other.  Sweat and grit or thought and business suits.  Fascinating.

Hollywood hates labor, and hates shows about labor worse than any other thing. And that’s why you won’t be seeing another Roseanne anytime soon. Instead, all over the tube, you will find enterprising, overmedicated, painted-up, capitalist whores claiming to be housewives. But I’m not bitter.

And, today Jack Johnson is appearing on indictment charges.  So, there is the shame of Prince George’s County.  The County where I grew up.  The school system that exposed me to theatre that now has essentially cut the arts (therefor the hearts) out of its programming.  The place where my Grandmother ran a boarding house for the wives of soldiers and my Grandfather donated land so that Forestville would have a fire house.  The county that gave about 1/2 of the land to DC so that the district would exist.  The county that is shamed by shameful people hiding under rocks.  Shamed.  And, I have pride here.  Pride.  And, hope.  I’ve met the new leadership and they bring me so much hope.  I think we’re all fed up.

Also, in the news today is that Arnold and Maria are splitting because he fathered a child with another woman.  Just like John Edwards.  Actually, this should probably be its own blog entry.  Naming the men in politics who have fathered children outside of their marriages.  Rosanne has her own story on that one too!  The question is, why do the wives suffer the shame?  In the statements of the men they have had errors in judgement and want to protect their families.  This must be a cut and paste statement.  If they really felt that way then why didn’t they just fess up before forced into it?  Say it gentlemen.

I cannot keep my penis in my pants and sometimes I create children that I may not even know about but I really don’t care because it feels good.  It has nothing to do with my wife.  I’m just a noncommittal polygamist at heart.  The shame is all mine.  I will now divorce my wife and take full responsibility for lying to so many people by say…NOT lying anymore.

The shame is always put on the wife and it has nothing at all to do with her.  That’s the thing about shame.  It’s like a pantiless sex fiend at Studio 54 in the 70’s.  It doesn’t care.  It just wants what it wants – to spread its venereal diseases – and if you are standing there willing to give it any kind of space or time it will TAKE it.  Shame is therefor, a lying pantiless diseased whore.  Have I made myself clear?

I’ve been thinking about this shift out of shame.  This is a place of real integrity and honesty.  It’s incredible really.  The love that I feel now was not something I ever thought possible as a youth.  Sincerely.  And, that’s the lesson for me.  The truth.  Exposure to light.  Stepping through the journey.  It’s worth it.  And, it’s worth it because of what lies at the other end which is real growth and integration.  So, as I see myself confrontational in meetings which I have been for the past month, I have no shame around that because I am speaking my truth.  Make no mistake, I am PISSED OFF.  I’m ready to fight.  I.  Am.  Ready.  To.  Fight.  Not because I’m violent but because I’m tired of carrying some lie because I offered to hold the shame-purse with the intention of helping somehow.  Tired of the gag orders issued by the snow globe police.  It is liberating to speak truth.  It is.  Of course, we were supposed to know that already.  I should have.  Life.

This producer was a woman, a type I became acquainted with at the beginning of my stand-up career in Denver. I cared little for them: blondes in high heels who were so anxious to reach the professional level of the men they worshipped, fawned over, served, built up, and flattered that they would stab other women in the back. They are the ultimate weapon used by men against actual feminists who try to work in media, and they are never friends to other women, you can trust me on that.

And, it’s here that I have to wonder about shame and its legacy for women.  Because until we honestly fall in love with ourselves.  Until we take that dark walk and fess up and face it we are passing on the grim diseases to the next generation.  In the news today, the Kardashians.  Mother’s throw their daughters under the bus because of their unresolved shame.  Women become their bodies and deprive their spirits.  It must stop.


May we all keep talking.

May we bring on the light!

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