I have laughed, cried, screamed, travelled, argued, debated, supported, loved, admired and peed my pants with them over some five years.
Then just over two years ago I left them in one of the most painful decisions I have ever had to make. And it hurt. Cannot even describe the hurt. For all five of us, not just for me.
I will always lament the fact that I left them in the lurch, but the only excuse I can give is that I was fighting for my life. I had to go and I knew, as in the past, that they would transform into cheerleaders and pull me back in. I had tried to leave before and it had always ended with me staying. So I left. Abruptly. Bleeding from my heart.
But we all pulled back and picked up our respective pieces. Me, the pieces of my ego and pride, knowing I would never again perform with them to adoring packed houses, and they, the pieces of their shattered show that we were writing and rehearsing together when I departed.
So I moved forward with sorrow, missing them and fluctuating between relief and pain at my decision. And trust me, the healing took time. After a year they were ready to premiere their new show “Women Fully Clothed: Older and Hotter” without me.
They offered me comps to the premiere, and I set out to go to the show. On the day of the show, after a sleepless night, I realized that I had to be true and honest with myself and admit that I just wasn’t ready. I had healed a great deal but some residual pain still lurked beneath the surface and it took the prospect of seeing them without me as a part of it to realize I still had work to do.
So this is what I did. I wiped my pain slate clean. I replaced my ego with pride for them. I replaced my hurt with joy for them and I replaced resentment with support for them.
And afterwards, whenever I would feel one iota of these feelings, I would let these new words work as a mantra for me. And through it, I achieved peace and contentment.
Now, make no mistake, I have seen them all socially over these two years and it has been great. We were all able to compartmentalize.
But the wonderful show we shared was still a big hurtle for all of us. They have told me individually how they have missed me and how they think of me every show, and that had made my heart soar.
So this past Friday night, I went with my darling friend Sheila to see them. Heart pounding I sat in my seat and opened the program that did not have anything to do with me at all. Twinge. Stared up at the WFC logo curling its way over the black curtain. Hurt. Then they came on stage to thunderous applause. Pain.
Then I watched them and started to laugh. Inside at first. The laughs were stuck in my throat. Then something took over in me. I was a part of them again.
You see, over the years our friends would say after seeing the show that it would be great if we could each sit in the seats during a show to know what it meant to the audience and to be engulfed in not just the laughter but the resonance the crowd was feeling. Of course we knew we could not be in two places at once, so it never happened.
Till Friday. And there I sat. The Pete Best of Women Fully Clothed!
Sitting in the house watching, laughing and channeling all that love around me into them. I tried to tell them afterward how it felt to be in the audience and how filled I was with the crowd’s adoration, They were so thrilled to hear it. At that moment we were all living through each other. One of us in the house and four of us on stage.
So that’s my parting gift, m’ladies. As I say goodbye with a clear heart, I hope I leave you filled with chocolate and the laughter and love of strangers.
Love, Shitzy xo
Barbara: Dear Deb,
Thanks for sharing this journey of struggle and redemption. It is the ultimate story. It’s what we want to have confirmed for us when we face tough choices, emotional crossroads, or difficult decisions. That we can look back on that moment when we chose to take Path B instead of the original one and not regret it, not shudder at the memory, not find ourselves unable to look those in the eyes who might have been collateral damage, is so reassuring. Never mind that in this happy ending, everyone is hugging it out with chocolate and adorable nicknames.
I’ve had my own fair share of turning point moments. And I’ve learned to realize that if I risk losing myself in the process, then it’s not worth any amount of sacrifice—even if that sacrifice seems geared for the greater good. I think the greater good truly—and only––comes when that brave choice is made. It seems you just have to wait for the smoke to clear. Even if it takes years… In fact, it usually takes years.
Deb, you are brave and dear for sharing. Thank you.