What’s your defense mechanism? We all have one. If you haven’t pinpointed it yet, it’s okay, but maybe take some time for self exploration. Meanwhile, let me share mine with you:
It’s no news to me. I know my defense mechanism very well. I’m quite proud of it. I tend to keep my emotions buried pretty deep inside. When something gets too emotional, I shut down. Rational, goofy Gabby takes the wheel. I don’t like to show sadness and in the same way, I don’t really know how to handle sad situations. I divert heaviness into comedy. I get nervous, and I start cracking jokes. Sorry, no surprise there because that’s what keeps me going. Show no weakness; Stay grounded and strong! I’ve had to be strong in this world. I’m built a warrior. When I break, I feel weak, and I don’t like that. I understand emotions don’t make us weak and the whole enchilada; however, I can’t help but to feel that way. That’s just my character. I’m the oldest of four. Two boys. Two girls. My siblings look up to me, and my parents lean on me for support. I feel like a pillar in the nucleus of the family. When the boat gets rocky, I’m there to keep it from flipping over. Well, most of the time anyway.
During an intense acting class last year, my defense mechanism was put to the test. I totally went out of my comfort zone into a realm of emotions that I seldom visit. My mind decided to go in opened to give and receive. It was sure to achieve the objective of the exercise. Easy, right? Just take people’s emotions via their eyes like a hot potato. Then, inject it with some emotion of my own and give it back – hot potato. Give just enough, but my body was not so convinced about this game. At the end of hot potato, someone always loses. So, no. My body didn’t respond adequately, and my soul felt that struggle. My thoughts pulling one way, my body clenching holding in place, my eyes fixed then wondering about my classmate’s face, my voice cracking, my cheek trembling, the tennis ball stuck in my throat, the sensation of people watching and the heaviness of Raquel’s energy penetrating my shield. Her eyes were definitely using the direct slash motion we learned over the acting course. Good job Raquel! Mastering the art of communication through your pupils, but this was no good news to me as it made my mind wander into chapters of my life that pushed me to become the person I am today.
Standing in front of Raquel reliving that particular scene was a reminder to stay focus and enjoy life. God doesn’t put us through anything we can’t handle, and He has so much faith in me just like I have in Him or at times more. So, I always look at the bright side of things because it reinforces the saying, “something good comes out of everything.” Thanks to you Forest, the antagonist, I came out of the shadows; my existence was even captured by the local newspapers. While digging through old documents, I found some articles with headlines like “Church’s Chicken Employee Breaks Free.” I sounded like a badass superhero or something. Super Chick! – Pun intended. I also came across an essay I wrote a year after the incident. I was compelled to read it by the title: Rebirth . I completely forgot I wrote that. Stay tune – I’ll share it next Friday!
Writing and theater have helped me filter all my emotions. We all have a past right? Well, this particular piece I stumbled upon, “Rebirth,” shows without a doubt that my heart bled ink as that terrible memory filled the blank pages. Depicting that instant when his eyes violated my soul. His perfectly round eyes were there glowing in the darkness shattering the windows and breaking into my home. My safe place. Now, that I rationalize the situation, standing there with each of my classmates so close to me, invading my personal space, and Raquel looking inside the windows of my being felt so similar to that day. My body paralyzed. I was forced to keep those curtains open. Unlike the exercise, on that Friday night, April 30, 2010, I was not safe. Perdí toda la expresión corporal. Every inch of my body was unresponsive, and Forest was there with that direct slash glare telling me it was over. Punch, slash, press, wring!
My life went flashing through my eyes like the reel of an old camera when the movie comes to an end. Except, I was blessed to have been given the chance to create a sequel. I don’t know how or why, but I was able to take back control of my body and live. Despite the indirect slash strikes of his fisher knife coming down on me, I won. Miraculously, they all missed!
Over the years, I’ve learned that not everything is my responsibility, and I don’t always have to keep it together or have all the answers, but for the acting exercise, I chose the perfect song, “Nadie Te Ama Como Yo” by Martin Valverde. I had to sing this song while staring deeply into Raquel’s eyes. I immediately absorbed her energy. Grief and sorrow filled me. Some way, somehow, I think it was meant to be. This song gives me strength, but at the same time, it takes me to a dark place. It stirs up dust under the carpet. When the professor asked for a song that opens up our hearts to let our emotions fill our bodies, well this is it for me. My heart was open, but my body was scared. Scared to go so deep to dust off more dirt from under the carpet that I would not find a point of return. I’ve worked so hard to forgive myself, and I truly think I’ve done it. I can tell my story without shedding tears. I don’t judge myself anymore. I am my biggest critic! Every experience is a lesson learned; An opportunity to grow. However, one thing is to forgive and another to forget, and lately, I’ve been doing a lot of remembering. Remembering the epic wake up scene in my storyline. That turning point that pushed me away from playing the obstacle and forced me back to the objective.
Now, I have to put that transformation to the test. I am strong, and it’s okay to keep my defense mechanism in tact as long as I identify it. However, it is also okay to share emotions with the spectators because that doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human! I can work towards allowing them to roam free on stage, in writing or in any creative work – my antidote. Everyday there is room for discovery. What’s your defense mechanism?
Thanks for reading,