…But How Objective Is The Redemption Story?

October 22, 2017

I’ve jut been thinking about the different ways narratives affect things… I think about this sort of a lot – not just with sexual assault and abuse. I thought about this before any of that happened… I maybe even have talked about it on this blog before?

If I haven’t, I’ve definitely drafted some things and I’ve talked about it just in real-life to people. I think about the various times we’ve seen our heroes fail… And I’ve thought about what really marks a failure? Even if we think about one of my favorite, Cory Booker… I feel like we could point to a bunch of various failures. He lost his first run for Mayor… But then, that documentary was nominated for an Oscar… But it did lose… But then he did become the Mayor next time, and even a Senator later…

He had some kind of fundraising page for a charity (I think for his birthday?) that didn’t hut the monetary goal… But he still raised a bunch of money for a good cause. He tried to make “waywire” a thing…and it did not become one. But. He did get a lot of people more interested and invested in politics (and maybe even technology and/or social media/sharing) along the way.

I would call Cory Booker a giant success. I adore him. I think he makes a net positive on the world (without making any negatives that would be so terrible, they’d outweigh the overall “net”). I think he’s inspiring. I think he succeeds more than he fails. I think he learns from failures. And I think most of the time when he does fail, it’s because he’s really trying something. He’s taking a giant swing at something.

And, as I’ve also said here before, I had a brilliant improv teacher once who said get As and Fs. Don’t get Cs. Take giant swings. And fail or succeed, but don’t just waste time hanging out in mediocrity.

But all this to say, I think that a potentially different narrative can be made no matter what the story. I think if you hated Cory Booker, you could put all the focus on when he’s failed. I think if you adore Donald Trump, you could try to paint him as this inspiring figure who became President against all odds, instead of an abusive awful grifter (which is still even some of the kindest wording you can use for such a terrible person).

And I think some objective truths sort of make the “correct” narrative a little more obvious for most people. But I do think the same base facts can be spun in different ways…

You know? If we’re gonna be really nice and understanding to me, I’m a story of redemption! Had all that time in the hospital, but came out and accomplished a lot. Was abused by someone at my dream school, but came back and am somewhat killing the game.

We can use various goalposts (that you’ve probably heard me say before).
1) lives alone in Times Square.
2) got my Equity card as a teenager!
3) in 3/4 of my editing jobs, I’ve been the only woman on the team, and usually the youngest – most of the time by at least a decade and sometimes much more than that.

And on and on we could list certain things (like, to my knowledge, being the youngest person to be accepted at the Juilliard summer program I did *hair flip* etc. etc. etc.). But even these things could be listed as failures, technically.

1) I think it’s a cool achievement to be able to live alone in Times Square. There was definitely a time in my life where I could only afford to live with roommates – and not even in Manhattan proper. But you could maybe argue, “Living alone shouldn’t be something you brag about. Don’t you want a partner? You sound lonely to me.” (Of course, I don’t really specifically want a live-in partner – at least not now or anytime close to now. But, I could see people who think that’s sad or a failure.)

2) Sure, that’s cool to get your Equity card early, but how much have you been using it? When was the time you were a paid actress? I am still getting consistent-ish paid gigs to act or song, but not as consistent as would be nice, and not as high-paying as would be nice. It’s absolutely not how I make my living right now. Which brings us to point 3…

3) Sure, you’re making a space for yourself in a space that doesn’t seem, in many places super welcoming toward (or at least inclusive of) women, and you’re doing it younger than most – even when compared to men. Amazing, right? But if you want to be a writer/performer as your real, real profession… Then, even if you do an “impressive” feat in another arm of the industry, what does that even mean? You’re not living your actual dream…

And we could go back and forth and all day… One thing I’ve really thought about when it comes to all this is how it felt like open-heart surgery was this giant setback. I talk a lot about how it felt I “lost time.” I quit school. I gained weight. I had a lot of issues that stemmed from that. And I worked SO hard at putting my life back together. And then, when life was better than it ever had been before, things got harder than they ever had been when I was sexually assaulted – that was my new open-heart surgery.

(And even before that, it was like I was trapped as a kid who was abused. And so it was like, “When I graduate high school, when I leave… things will be better”… And they were! It was a tough mountain to climb. But I thought I was climbing it… And then, boom! Open-heart surgery. It kind of feels like every time I’m going through something hard, I think there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, and I try to run to the end of it. And I’m in the sunshine for what feels like a short amount of time, until, poof! Another tunnel falls on me! Am I ever gonna get to spend considerable time in the sun? Do I somehow bring these tunnels on myself?)

Am I this tenacious person who will fight no matter what obstacles befall me, or do I crumble harder or easier or faster than some others would under obstacles? Did I not handle that year in and out of the hospital as well as some others might have? Did I not bounce back from being assaulted as well as some others might have? (Or even as well as I personally did when I was raped in college?).

Is there always gonna be some “setback,” some “excuse”? Do I just have weird random bad luck, or am I somehow making things into bigger things than they are, or somehow bringing this bad luck on me? I mean, it’d be pretty darn hard to blame me for a congenital heart defect. But we could try! haha And we could say things like, “Well, did I give the medicine quite as much of a shot as I should have, before we went back to surgical options?” I mean, I think the right choices were made (and obviously I was under the care of some of the best doctors in the world, who totally know what they’re doing), but you could argue other choices could’ve been made, that may or may not have changed things.

So, I dunno. As per usual, I don’t really super know much of anything sometimes, it seems.

So, am I a triumphant Phoenix who’s always rising from the ashes? Or am I mess who falls into bad situations (her fault or the universe’s?) who can’t get her life together to save her life?

Maybe time will tell, and also whatever narrator ends up being the person who tells the story. Maybe it won’t even be told. After all, I’m just a little blogger right now. And I have big dreams, but I might be basically unknown ’til the day I die. Anything is possible. I usually say that because I believe any dreams can come true, but that almost means outcomes I don’t want are possible too. So, we’ll see!

Ah, confusing, complicated, convoluted, weird, interesting life.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?