Since my last post, I have continued taking the wonderful Sunday night Kripalu yoga class for which I remain extraordinarily grateful.
Today, during a restorative fish pose (blocks holding up chest and head), I felt the weight of the world fall off of me and a sense of instead being buoyed up by the earth. Hard to describe what created that sensation, but it involved - oddly enough - the fleeting thought that at 51 years old, there are now many more people younger than me than are older than me on this earth. I felt an accompanying lightness, realizing that I've done my bit to try to change things, etc. and now there are all these younger people who have their chance to make their mark. I'm free now to write and do what I want to do. That might sound selfish, I don't know, but to me - who's spent so much time trying to hold up the world (not that anyone asked me to do so, mind you, but nonetheless I heeded some kind of sense of call...), this is a huge relief.
At another point during relaxation, I felt another weight being taken off of me - that of shame and the fear that shame engenders - the fear of being seen, of being violated, or violence being done to me - physical mostly. There are more prosaic fears of being embarrassed and such, but the haunting quote from Margaret Atwood comes to mind whenever I am writing about certain subjects. "Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them."
If you happen to have the fun role of being a female writer and are writing about certain issues that are close to home, these fears can gain purchase on your soul. But underneath those fears, far more corrosive, is the shame - especially if you grow up in the largest special interest group in the world: women. Does it start with Genesis if you grow up Judeo-Christian? The rap of being the one who started the fall? Patriarchal laws/culture, etc.? I don't know. I know there's a lot of personal crap that plays into this for me, too - along with an intergenerational shame wave - for lack of a better way of putting it.
Nonetheless, while reading the draft of the book (which task I have now completed), waves of this shame and fear were palpable and close to silencing. Fears of retaliation, of people being hurt, of anger at what I am revealing, etc. can be so intense I just want to throw in the proverbial towel. But instead, I kept reading, and talking about this issue with a few trusted friends, who have assured me it's normal and to keep going.
So, when in yoga there was this sensation of that shame and fear being lifted off of me, I felt like I could breathe free for the first time maybe like ever...I feel it again now writing about it (the shame/fear nexus) but I have made a decision - that has been supported by yoga and meditation - to allow for this discomfort and not act on it.
Today, the shame trigger was reposting something on Facebook about a woman who realized she had been in an abusive relationship. Just reposting That put me in a shame-fear spiral. (Facebook is deeply weird when it comes to attempting to share anything real, but that's another post - and should show you how deeply out of kilter I am with the world of having A Brand - as in I'd rather kill myself than do that - or should I say, if I did that, I'd already be dead even if there was a body walking around - is this why there is an obsession with zombies these days? but I digress.)
Which leads me - believe it or don't - to Tina Fey's new television series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. What? you say, why would a comedy about a woman who is saved from having been kept captive underground by a cult leader who convinced his captives the world had ended be something that would matter to me? Bwahahahaha.
Well, anyone who saw or knows the subject matter for My First Autograce Homeography (1973-74) may be able to answer that trick question. Even though I was not - thank goodness - held hostage for any huge amount of time, I was for somewhere between 24-48 hrs (I was 10 and the whole last couple crazy days were - crazy - and included a psycho caretaker - I've written about this before so won't repeat - but that also involved a 4 month run-up of brainwashing etc.).
When I was living with my psycho babysitter, she convinced people I was evil and that I had done things I knew I had not done. I also challenged her when she convinced people to play boardgames wrong, etc. As in this comedy, I was not looked upon kindly and was chided or punished. But when I was saved in the end, I was - while battered - not broken. A therapist I worked with found this incredible. I find it incredible.
The reason I love the TV show is that the main character is portrayed as having resisted the cult leader and her main emotion - upon being rescued is: hooray the world is still here! And she makes the very sensible decision of not going back to Indiana after they have been interviewed in NYC and instead goes AWOL to live in New York.
How could I Not Love This Show?!!
Even though it's a sit-com and obviously not an in-depth look at the whole situation, watching this woman navigate life afterwards, including what amounts to PTSD, etc. is extraordinarily funny (because Tina Fey is a genius and the casting is brilliant) and ALSO healing.
Happily, for me, I was watching this show on Netflix while reading the draft of the book about my grandmothers. This buoyed my spirits and made it possible to move through.
Well, that and the yoga, meditation and some great friends and John, my beloved Canadian.
So, that's been my last coupla weeks...Tomorrow: Rewrites. (Besides emotional stuff, reading draft also showed massive redundancy, some gaping holes and lots of stuff that needs to be written - you know - better. However, on the positive side of the ledger - some pages were good here and there - and there is a there there. A book exists. However imperfect and in need of help. It's there. Hooray.)
Oh, should mention, when I finished reading the book draft, I bowed to my Ganesha statuettes, a Buddha tapestry, my ancestors (grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers', mother) and then to me when I was young. At which pointed I cried and cried and cried, because I had survived. These were good, healing tears.
No matter what else happens with this book, it's brought me to this place. And for that I am profoundly grateful.
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.
I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.