“A truth was being revealed to me: that I had always tried to attach myself to the light of other people, that I had never had any light of my own. I experienced myself as a kind of shadow.”Zadie Smith, Swing Time
I’ve always seen myself as a side character. The side-kick cheering on my friends, The Stars. Anyone I meet, really, is The Star. I even imagine strangers I meet for a second on the street to be spectacular people living spectacular lives. I make a brief appearance in their life movies and then – ffwoop—
Perhaps this is a byproduct of hiding my Self from ages 9 to 26. Maybe I wanted to be forgotten because I was too ashamed to be seen. I believed myself too unpalatable. That’s why people like myself aren’t centered in film or TV. So how could I ever be The Star?
I think I struggle, too, with this idea because I am so lost. I don’t have a career. I don’t know what to do with my life. But I’m good at encouraging others. I often feel like my purpose in life is to encourage others and help them achieve their dreams, even though I’ll never achieve my own.
I’m the side character who helps the main character get off their butt. I’m Melissa McCarthy wrestling and slapping Kristen Wiig until Kristen gets off the pity party couch. I realize I am also Kristen Wiig in this situation. I am literally on the couch feeling sad about myself right now. I don’t know what to do.
I want there to be more representation of people like me in TV and film. Two weeks ago I started working on a screenplay about my life, my disability, and my family dynamic around my disability. It’s something I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. So, I was excited to finally start it, but I can’t figure out the story. If I center it around me, it is just… so… BORING. The more interesting character, it seems, is my mom. Then I de-center myself in my own story. Am I just that boring?! Is the only “interesting” thing about me my disability?
As I write this, my chest feels heavy with frustration and anger at myself. At how much self-hate I have. There’s this heaviness in my chest, and yet, I feel incredibly empty. I’m not sure what to do about it, so I’m writing. I hate everything that’s on the page, but if I erase it, I’ll feel worse. I don’t have the energy to edit and polish, so this is it. Today I have no answers, only pain. Some days that’s all there is.