Last weekend, I drove to Madison, WI to audition for a spot in the Madison production of "Listen to Your Mother". This is a national show, hosted in 32 cities around the US that "gives motherhood a microphone". I'm not exactly sure how I even stumbled across the show, but I've been aware of it for quite some time.
Thirty women were given audition times and I was one of them. I needed to read an original piece that had anything to do with motherhood. The author/reader didn't need to be a mother, have a mother, write about their mother, etc.... the only rule was that motherhood had to be the star of the piece. Oh, and the piece couldn't be longer than five minutes. (ouch!)
In the past month or so, I've been doing a lot of reading and re-reading and writing about our miscarriages and sort of coming 'full circle' in my recovery process. As I've mentioned on this blog, I really feel that the topic of miscarriage is so seldom talked about and discussed, that it almost carries a shameful or embarrassing burdon with it. And, since it is so common (about 1 in 4 women will have at least one miscarriage in their lifetime), it almost seems trivial, or like it's an almost extraneous part of motherhood. Many women only discuss their pregnancy losses long after the fact, after much healing and recovering has taken place. When they speak of them, their emotions aren't as raw and their thoughts aren't as jumbled as they may have been at the time of the loss. Those hearing the stories without the raw emotion behind it may just view miscarriage as something that happens to many people. Something that is common, and nothing to be worried about. Because of this, I wish that this topic was discussed more. I wish women had the courage to speak of their losses and share their experiences with others. And I wish that those listening would gain more of an understanding about the process, about the emotions that go along with such a loss, about the transformation that comes after such a thing.
Unfortunately, I think most people are uncomfortable hearing such stories-- especially when they haven't been through it themselves. Pregnancy loss is really impossible to understand and though many people try, it's also really impossible to relate to unless you've been in that situation. However, unless women keep sharing their stories about loss and healing and recovery, I don't anticipate this changing in the future.
For this reason, I wrote a piece to read at the "Listen to Your Mother" audition. It was basically a combination of several blog posts with a few new paragraphs. It was so difficult to condense down into a five minute version, but I managed to do it. I felt very strong about the finished product and went to the audition full of confidence and great expectations.
But as I entered the audition room, and stood across a table of four women and read my piece-- something that was so personal and so close to my heart and so emotional-- my confidence wavered a bit. And I don't know about you, but I would much rather read from the podium on a stage in front of 200 people than read in private room in front of four eager faces. My voice cracked and I worried that I was rushing. Would it be over five minutes? Would they enjoy it? Was it too depressing? Is "motherhood the star"? Somehow, I made it through the whole piece and the panel of women collectively exhaled as I wrapped up my reading.
As I left, they thanked me for coming and wished me safe travels back to Iowa. I left feeling more nervous than I had been when I arrived-- what did they think? Was it too much? Was it not enough? Did I say what needed to be said? Maybe I should have read something funny-- I think I can be funny.... maybe?
Ultimately, I did not get chosen for the show. Twelve women are chosen and as the panel informed me, the casting really depends on what submissions they receive as a whole and how the pieces fit together to form a show. While I knew being chosen was a long shot, I still felt that pang of rejection when I read the "Thanks for auditioning!" email that came a week later.
Part of this hurt comes from knowing how personal that piece is to me-- how important I feel it is to share the story. The other hurt comes from plain ol' rejection. It's easy to turn on the negative internal dialogue: "Why did I even do that?" "I should never have even auditioned" "How embarrassing that I even read my story". Even writing this post is difficult for me-- why do I want to admit that I tried something that didn't even come to fruition? Shouldn't I keep this a secret? But after giving this some thought, I realize that I'm glad I took the risk and went ahead an auditioned. When I think about things I'd like to do or accomplish in my life, I think I often hold back because it means I won't have to be rejected. I'm great at risk taking when the odds are in my favor-- but how risky is that? I'm great at sharing my thoughts or ideas in the presence of like-minded individuals, but often stay quiet in arenas of differing views.
Not only did this audition twist my arm to really think about my miscarriages and form a well-thought, concise piece of writing, but it made me step out of my comfort zone. I risked putting myself in front of others and not getting chosen. And now, standing on the other side of that fence, I realize that perhaps I needed this. I put myself out there, I didn't accomplish what I sought, but I'm still standing.... and feel even more empowered to try again.