Create a Personal Character Arc
Life is Dynamic. That dynamism lends itself to great stories, scripts and characters to play.
Life's ever changing dynamics also change the nature of relationships for better or for worse, and this includes the relationship with yourself.
I was recently declared single after ten years of marriage by the Rhode Island Legal System.
I met my ex-husband when we were kids who loved theater-acting, adventures in Newport, Rhode Island, and we blossomed together in New York City while navigating new territory.
We moved back to New England to pursue career goals outside of the arts.
Years later, we ended the marriage out of love for each other, and the friendship we hope to grow down the road as two people who shared 13 years of life together. My friend and fellow actress, Andrea Flax, told me this upon hearing the news of the split: "Honor it." Honor the time invested in each other, honor the love that was present, honor the extended family who took me in and loved me. I always will honor it. I'm grateful for his role in setting me up for self-love. Unfortunately, I held myself back from the emotional growth that I needed to develop into a woman who knew how to love herself unconditionally.
What I have learned over the 9+ months leading up to this day is that there is a character arc unfolding, thanks to the decision to be true to myself through setting and maintaining boundaries, following fears, making new friends and reconnecting with the people already in my life.
In my early 20s, the remedy for a breakup was to jump into the next relationship. It's completely natural for human beings to seek a partnership for safety, companionship and love. While it's natural, it's not necessarily a healthy choice for yourself to make. Consider the character who partner-jumps in an effort to avoid pain, meanwhile the pain is still there manifesting itself as a drinking problem, a gambling addiction. As an actor, you may want to portray this person to achieve catharsis is your personal life, or to explore some deep emotions.
Heroic, however, are the characters who out of vulnerability find the power of their true selves.
They transform and transcend pain. They do not need a "safety net" because they are confident in their abilities to take care of situations on their own. They seek companionship with the world around them: the trees, the grass, the ocean, strangers, friends old and new. They develop a stronger relationship with their family. They find themselves and their life's calling because they take the time to heal their wounds and learn to love themselves. Once they do, they are powerful forces operating out of love, instead of fear or greed or loneliness.
It's easier for most of us to play the partner jumper or the addict because we understand pain. We understand the desire to be loved. That said, I'd rather be the hero who has learned to love herself so that any love that radiates is exuded from within the chest cavity walls of her being. The fire that could propel her into impulsive sexual decisions, for example, is fed through her veins from her heart and felt through her entire body, empowering creation, enabling action with deliciously pure intent.
I've been on a hiatus from accepting new acting work because I've been taking the time for myself to recreate Jamie. My own life is becoming a character I'd totally play in a film:
Honest truth seeker
My arc can be summed up like this:
Married to my best friend for 10 years, relying on his love to define to me-> Alone and afraid-> Alone, yet making new friends, including myself as my new best friend, knowing in my gut that I am OK; that there is love all around me.
Codependent -> Independent
Feelings of Powerlessness, no real sense of self-> Empowered with a sense of self strength
I never thought I'd be a divorced woman, yet the divorce does not define me. I was scared to get married and ran with that fear out of love for my best friend. I never thought I would fall in love with life in such a rich way, yet following fear has become a rewarding way of life. This time has been my chance at self-discovery without compromise. I didn't get that in my 20's. It's never too late, and you DO NOT have to end your relationship to progress on your journey either.
"It's where we go, and what we do when we get there, that tells us who we are." ---Joyce Carrol Oates
What is your personal character's arc beginning? Who do you want to become?
Plot out your own personal character arc and begin to find ways to align your life with the values that will help get you there.