One summer day when a leafy little town was about to host the highlight of the year – a summer theatre festival – I got a call from the owner of the clinic I worked in.
’Can you see this lady? She is an actress and came here for the festival. She says she doesn’t feel that she can go on a stage and yet she has to and soon. She complains of tiredness but I feel there is more to it. I don’t think my therapy will be the best fit for her – she doesn’t seem to have a physical problem. Come and see her.’
That was an unusual request as I would normally expect to hear either ‘Can you help with stomach/head/back ache?’ or ‘Can you help with loneliness/anxiety/depression?’
The actress, true to her craft looked beautiful and intense. Her charisma was tangible. Yet something was clearly off and she was looking for help. She repeated what I already knew.
‘I start performances soon. But I don’t feel I can go on a stage because my audience would feel that I’m not authentic. I feel tired. Can you help?’
I started with listening carefully.
‘I’m on a stage since I was a little kid. This is where I belong. The stage is my life. I have no doubts about that.
But lately I feel so tired. Exhausted. I worked a lot lately.
And there will be no holidays for me this year!!!!
I feel have no energy for my performances.’
‘What else are you feeling?’
‘Hmm….may be just a little frustrated.’
‘What or who you are frustrated with?’
‘Hmm……may be my husband. He is my manager. We love each other but lately we disagree on things and I feel he is pushing me somewhere I don’t feel the energy to go.’
I gave her a simple classic of Colourpuncture: a treatment for hormonal balance and de-stressing. Her home work was to pay attention to her dreams, Dream Work. Luckily she was a prolific dreamer.
We did 3 or 4 sessions altogether during the month she stayed for the festival.
An interesting memory surfaced which clarified the tiredness issue. She recalled a particular childhood experience of being unwell with a sore throat; she was due to give a performance and her parents pushed her to go for it. That was far from an evil act – her childhood was indeed happy and parents caring. They probably simply underestimated how she felt.
She came to realisation that the current situation with her husband was a perfect repeat, an association her unconscious mind made reflecting that childhood situation. She internalised that ‘imprint’: you can be pushed by somebody you love to do what you love a little too far and this is when what you love becomes different.
At the end of the festival she came to the clinic one last time.
I actively participated in her month long inner journey and knew what to expect but I was still amazed at how she looked.
I remember the beginning when she came to work, tired, with zero energy, almost unable to work. Now she looked radiant and transformed, after a month of her demanding work. She brimmed with energy and plans for future work.
I think we were both equally surprised at the results.
She wrote to me a couple of weeks later thanking me and sharing changes she made in her work which helped her to work a little less but focus on her actual craft a lot more. She also started a longed for active creative hobby and was thrilled.
On the Path
She was a beautiful manifestation of somebody on the Path. This was a rare blessing.
She seemed to have been born with her talent in performing arts. She never questioned her Path, it was obvious.
Her being ‘on the Path’ was a strong point in terms of therapy: we didn’t need to invest any time at all on going way back to the past and untangle a lot of things to rediscover something and then build from scratch.
We didn’t need total ‘remodel’, not even ‘change’; we just needed to make some little but vital adjustments. Without that the Path would increasingly ‘grow with weeds’. One year on and the Path would be difficult to walk on. Five years on would make it a real drag. Ten years on might have made it impossible.
The actress and her performing talent has always been in a close relationship.
She was aware that her talent meant to serve her audience and so she had a similarly close connection with her audience. For her, authenticity wasn’t a lovely aspiration; it was a must in her job. Her audience was a part of the process.
She was also very well aware of what she needed herself to be able to nurture her talent and serve her audience and then to connect the two.
Other people in her life – parents; husband – didn’t have access to this source of inner authenticity or understanding of its inner workings. From their point of view she could have just ‘woman up’, do the show and rest later.
That wasn’t how it worked for her. Her talent would only show up on its own terms. Her side of the bargain was to take care of herself as a vessel for it.
Her standards of her work were high; the energy required for her performances was intense, she had to feel really together and inspired in order to work.
Resonance of Childhood Experiences
This was also a beautiful illustration of how seemingly benign childhood experience can trigger a vague emotional upheaval as well as creative and relationship crisis years later. She never connected the two together.
Her parents didn’t do anything terrible; but considering her resources as the time (she was – a ‘good’ – child, generally healthy) for that child a performance with sore throat must have grown into a terrible nightmare.
Her loving husband, being ‘the manager’ and so in a similar ‘authority’ position acted in her perception as her parents in a way.
My perception of her was that she was both talented and hard working by herself naturally: being one with her talent, she never needed any outside ‘encouragement’ to work. She lived and breathed her theatre work.
Interest in own life experience and inner world
She also was willing to participate in her therapy process. She was already intrigued by dreams. Being a prolific dreamer she was fascinated by dreams but never had an opportunity to analyse them beyond some ‘one size fits all’ dream book explanations. Each session we would start with some Dream Work and she was really happy and excited to discover new parts of her inner landscape.
She learnt and internalised an easy dream analysis framework and was already making plans to share that with her friends back home.
Attention to her Soul, her feelings and emotions and ultimately to her memories of life experiences was the last ingredient of a success. Being a natural not to mention professional performer she also was already much attuned to her inner world and her body. A little input on my side was all she needed to connect the dots. Her vitality and creativity blossomed with little holidays for the Soul.
Willing to receive
This was also a clear case of Yin and Yang dis-balance.
On the Path, and in a happy marriage, she was a hard worker and consistently delivered, being in the Yang most of the time.
The Yin: the receiving, relaxation, and reflection was missing for quite some time. She needed rebalancing and realigning; she needed to relax into receiving and that was obvious from the way she immediately responded.
Luckily, she was able and willing to receive. Colourpuncture – a body therapy which also fed her Soul needs – was perfect. We also practiced enough Dream Work and some reflection techniques for her to internalise the experience and have these tools on standby if she needed them.
She actively and enthusiastically participated in her therapy process.
A Journey into the Soul space
It was a mini journey into an innermost Self to feed the Soul which included a spontaneous dive into memories and connecting the dots.
In a way it was a mini vacation for the Soul, nurturing, accepting and deeply relaxing.
I Googled her name writing this. Her look today is the same sight of beauty, drama and high standards as it was 13 years ago.
She seems to be yet deeper into her craft and stronger in her Spirit.
Needless to say, she is walking the same Path.
I’m happy we met for a brief work together.
I helped her to manage some bumps in the road and her understanding of her Self and her work deepened as a result.
And her story created an entirely new reference point for me in my perception of ‘holidays’.
Every time somebody says ‘I’m exhausted; I really need holidays. I have to have it’, my memory promptly delivers this experience.
Do we need holidays or do we need a carefully crafted space for the Self and food for the Soul?