I don’t like to show a lot of skin. When swimsuit season arrives I always try to find the thing with the most fabric that can still be considered a swimsuit. In the summer, even in the Houston heat, I don’t like to wear shorts. Skirts and dresses are fine but they must come to my knees. Anything shorter than that and I feel like I’m naked.
Obviously I’m not really naked. It’s just that feeling of showing more of myself in public than I am comfortable with. And tomorrow I’m getting naked. On stage.
I’ve been on stage before. More times than I can count actually. I’ve acted on stage. I’ve sung on stage. I’ve danced on stage. All of which weren’t easy, but my experience and education made it possible. And all of those things require a certain level of vulnerability in order to be successful. But all of those times on stage, I was reciting someone else’s words, dancing someone else’s steps. I was telling someone else’s story.
Tomorrow I tell my story.
A few months ago I decided to write and submit a piece to the first ever Southeast Texas Listen to Your Mother Show. I had so many ideas of what to write. At first I thought I might tweak an old blog post, but as I read through them nothing really felt like the right fit. I needed something that gave a voice to my motherhood experience. I started brainstorming, but every time I sat down to expand on those ideas, each attempt fizzled out. I was starting to think the whole idea of submitting my writing to anything was terrible.
But because Listen to Your Mother was something I had wanted to participate in from the first time I read about it a few years ago, I knew I would regret not submitting. So I did the equivalent of slapping myself around and forced myself to really square in on what MY motherhood story was. And then it was so obvious.
I needed to get naked with myself in order to see what had been there all along. I realized my motherhood story began long before I was actually a mother. And I got to writing.
I enlisted the help of a couple of friends to read my first drafts and tell me what was missing. With their help, I was able to nearly complete the piece. The last sentence was an obstacle for me. I think it was because once it was finished it meant I had to email my nakedness to someone else.
But I did it. And then I drove to two hours to Beaumont for the audition and allowed myself to be naked with a couple of ladies I barely knew. There were lots of tears.
And then came the first read through and I had to be naked with a whole new group of people. Again with the tears.
Last weekend we had our last rehearsal. There were fewer tears. I’d already let me guard down with this group, so I didn’t feel quite so naked.
But tomorrow I must be naked all over again. I will be naked on stage. Sure, I’ll be wearing a pretty purple dress and standing behind a podium, but if all goes well, I will also be naked.
Vulnerability feels the same whether you have your clothes on or off. Part of the challenge of participating in this show is sharing the details of how I came to be a mother. To paraphrase Brenè Brown, I want to walk inside my story. Because I hope that if I can walk inside my story and allow myself those few minutes of vulnerability — of nakedness — that someone else can do the same.
Because if we can’t share our stories with each other and use them to learn and grow, what good are they?