Today's guest blog comes from Andrew Bee, an actor, dancer and Stage 32 member from Toronto, Canada. Even as a small child, Andrew always knew he wanted to be an actor. Unfortunately, his dream was sidetracked, as dreams often are, and it took him almost forty years to pursue it in earnest. Andrew now has 17 IMDb credits and is finally living the life he always envisioned.
In this entry, Andrew discusses the very common, but somewhat taboo subject of parental rejection as a small child. He divulges how this rejection has shaped his entire life and his choices toward pursuing his acting dreams.
While many who face the same adversity often blame outward sources for their roadblocks, Andrew instead looked inward at the personality traits he could control and change in an effort to move forward toward his goals. Andrew reveals the moment of truth that changed his life in hopes to inspire and guide those creatives who are currently looking for their own.
I thank Andrew for his contribution to the Stage 32 Blog.
Oddly enough, I consider myself a survivor. Not of the Holocaust, or of the dreaded C word, or an horrific accident, or a natural disaster, or a substance addiction. No, my survival is of the intangible kind. I have survived my own childhood.
I have finally, at fifty-two, freed myself from a demon given to me at birth by my mother. This demon’s name is Rejection, and she has stopped me my entire life at every turn. I am able now to experience joy in my own insanity because she and I are intimate bedfellows. I dove headlong into my own craziness year in and year out, out of a frantic, desperate need to understand and fix the thing in me that was so terribly broken.
I always only wanted one thing: to be an actor. When I was five or six, my father took me to see the original Planet of the Apes, with Charlton Heston. As completely traumatized as I was (I think my mother never forgave my father for that little educational outing), that was the moment I knew. This is magical! I want to do this! Unfortunately, my life was destined to never, ever be that simple. Imagine actually having that level of certainty about knowing what the dream was, and then being shut down year in and year out. It is only after a lifetime of healing that I understand the true nature of that insanity.
My mother rejected me at birth. This, of course, is nothing new, and has been forever a part of life. Depending on what research is read, men like me often turn into rapists, murderers, violent criminals and misogynists. For some reason that I my never truly understand, I chose to find love. I was always aware of a murderous, killing rage in me as well, and there were many times when I just knew how easy it would have been to give in and wreak havoc.
What I have learned is that often two things happen during birth trauma: there is permanent physical or emotional damage. My chest got stuck on my mother’s pubic bone and I felt like I was going to die. I escaped the physical damage, but my chest has frozen up my entire life.
The choices I have made as an adult to completely dissect and deconstruct my personality were not from any spiritual or altruistic place. Rather, I was compelled to understand why, why, why, I had absolute clarity on how I wanted to spend my life, on what my dream was, and I could not take any physical action. I was paralysed.
I would not wake up and say, “Goody, today I’m going to face my terror, which is my demon, given to me by my mother. Isn’t that fantastic.” Emotion is never that simple. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I even knew I had a demon. I have often read about people having a moment of truth in their lives that would change everything. How sweet would that have been in my life. My moment of truth was realizing that there is no moment of truth. I have had dozens of moments of absolute clarity and truth in my life. But, the truth, is that none of those moments ever dealt with my buddy, my pal, my demon. It wasn’t until I discovered regressive body work therapy that I began to consciously feel and get to know my demon.
As human beings, we all live in various stages of numbness. My personal belief is that we are energy beings, beings of light, the Universe, or God, if you will. There are people who simply feel much, much more than others. I believe this is because they have very little fear, either because they grew up being allowed to just be, or have worked it out.
My personal philosophy is that human beings are either trained or untrained in their lives. By trained I mean one thing: a person lives their dream. This can only really happen without fear. I don’t define living the dream by doing the action, and being in a constant state of fear, doubt and anxiety while doing it. That is living in a place that says, “I’m always afraid I’m not going to get what I want.” This for me, is why so many creatives quit. It is just too difficult to do the real work, the hard work, the unbelievably painful work.
After my birth I was shamed, judged and rejected year in and year out. My father hated me because my mother put me in their bed and kicked him out. For the few short years he was around, I always felt frightened of him. I had this constant fear I was doing something wrong and he would hurt me. He was an alcoholic and died at forty-four years old, when I was eight.
At some point, my grandmother came to live with us because my mother just couldn’t cope. I grew up with their constant tension. She developed severe dementia and died when I was thirteen. By this time my mother had developed cancer and had her left leg amputated under the knee. Over the next five years, her gallbladder, kidney, and uterus joined the list of cancerous objects that had to be removed. It finally hit her brain, and at fifty-two, she died. I was nineteen.
Looking back as often as I have, I now understand that I numbed out at birth, through no fault of my own. I woke up and over the course of nineteen years of my mother’s constant shame, judgement, rejection and negativity, numbed out again, almost completely. I witnessed the three key people in my life live horrendous lives and be absolute victims: to their own upbringings, society, and the religions they were taught.
For some reason, I could not accept that version of life. As shell shocked and numb as I was, life was beautiful and I have been fighting for my life my whole life, even when I had no idea about anything.
I just knew I had to fight: Reiki, Yoga, meditation, psychoanalysis, aura healing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, NLP, family therapy, mindfulness, relationship therapy, massage therapy, acupressure and acupuncture, Gestalt therapy, hypnosis and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (before it was ever called that mouthful of words) all became part of my arsenal against the terror of just being alive. I even walked on fire and broke the points of arrows on my throat.
No matter what I did, the terror always returned. My demon was always there. Finally, I found a type of therapy that works on an understanding that the brain exists outside of time. If triggered properly, memories that are decades old can be re-experienced in real time. I opened that can of toxic poison and relived many of the events of a terrified little boy and a terrified young man, this time with a therapist with whom I felt completely safe and nurtured.
Over a period of years my body has released much of that stuck emotion. My belief is that a body freezes because the unconscious simply does whatever it takes to protect an organism from pain, and what better protection than numbness? My demon was a part of me and only doing its best to protect me, and I have learned that great universal lesson: love thyself first. Recently, we said goodbye, my demon and I. Day by day, I inch forward.
I didn’t plan on freeing myself at the same age my mother died. Nor is it lost on me that the one thing I love above all else, which is creating make believe, requires a human to work out fear. This has just added to my belief that life is truly, beautifully magical. Whether or not I ever achieve my dream of becoming a world famous actor is irrelevant. I am constantly and forever grateful that, at long last, I can feel again.
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As always, Andrew is available to respond to comments in the Comments section below...