Monday, June 20, 2011

Dear Women Fully Clothed

Deb: This salutation must sound odd to those of you who don’t know what Women Fully Clothed means. They are a Canadian sketch troupe and I am one of the five founding members of this group, consisting of the greats Jayne Eastwood, Robin Duke, Kathy Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek.
Kathy Greenwood, Jayne Eastwood, Deb, Teresa Pavlinek, Robin Duke

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.


  1. Thanks for sharing deb. Even know that r not part of them any more,at least you all can be friends.Thats the most important thing. I think.


  2. you are so right Lyndsie. And we are. We are all dear friends.

  3. Oh, Deb. So much pain, confusion, and struggle behind the words you typed. A hard decision and a hard aftermath. :( An act of self-preservation and collateral damage, bravery and guilt, certainty and doubt, peace and confusion, relief and regret - such a difficult and tumultuous but necessary path. I hate that you had to ache like that. I rejoice that you've come so far in healing. Still, Deb, your words speak of so much gut wrenching and trauma between their lines. Oh, Deb...

  4. Thanks Rigel for understanding. But I have to also stress that the journey was two sided. I think we have all come out the other side. Seeing the show and sharing their joy was our full circle!

  5. Oh, Deb-you are so fabulous to have stepped back and SEEN what this journey is, what it takes, what it can give. I think so often when we 'leave' it is just to hard to face that they continued on successfully--especially when you loved it and felt so integral.

    So I'm glad you found your peace and way to be a part from another angle.

    Though I wouldn't be me if i didn't point out they'd be better off as Women Bare Naked...

    *hugs to you*

  6. Thanks Hart, it was a very rewarding journey indeed. I did find peace. Blessed lovely peace. Women Bare Naked-OF COURSE YOU WOULD WANT THAT! :-)
    But of course no room for that as Canada already has The Barenaked Ladies!!!

  7. this is a beautiful post. I've been too busy to be here of late, and this reminds me why I need to get back. Love you ladies. Thanks for sharing, Deb.

  8. Deb, like any breakup one looks back and worries about having made such an enormous move but after the dust settles usually you feel better and know it was the right thing for you first and then for all those involved. Thanks for sharing this story about coming out on the other side. Not being privy to all the ins and outs it seems to me you made the right decision as hard as it might have been for everyone involved.

  9. Beautiful post, Deb. Don't we all have to go through those choices where you wonder if you did right or wrong. You want to turn back, but do not because painful though it is, you know you have done the right thing. But even later, you are not sure....
    Applaud your spirit, Deb. And thank you for sharing this.

  10. Thanks Gae, as I was writing it, I was actually surprised that I was doing it. One of those posts that just flow out. Ten minutes. Done. Funny huh? Thanks Madge, you know it's funny about the "ins and outs" as you say. In the end, they had nothing to do with my leaving and also I would only be able to share my side of the story, which of course isn't fair.
    Thanks Rayna, Yes wow did I wonder over these two years if I shoulda coulda woulda! But I did and it's great for everyone.

  11. Glad to hear they're doing so well and you are too. Every one of you is fricking brilliant.

  12. You are kind Kate. We are all so well.

  13. "The Pete Best of Women Fully Clothed" - so sad but so frickin" funny!

  14. So glad someone liked that. You know those moments when you write and you have a bit that you are so proud of? That was mine! Thanks! of course, in the sad but true category!!!

  15. Deb, The hardest thing to do is leave the safety of friends and the familiar, to go into the unknown alone. It is hard on those leaving and on those left behind.
    We never want to think of letting someone else down, so we wind up letting ourselves down.
    You were very brave to say enough, it is time to move on.

    Pamela Jo

  16. Pamela Jo you are right. Time. For all of us. Thank you.

  17. And I'm gonna jump on the loving the Pete Best line band wagon!! Own it, baby!

  18. It takes a lot of courage to make those very tough decisions in life. And from all I've read, Deb, you seem to be a woman of great courage, and you're a good role model for any of us who are facing one of those tough decisions. Thanks very much for sharing.

  19. There are no middle-aged all-woman comedy improv troupes in the UK. None. I demand you all reform and play here now.

  20. I hate the phrase "Some day you'll look back and..." because you don't think you'll really ever look back and truly appreciate what you're doing at that moment. Deep down, it's something you *have* to do, and intellectually, you KNOW that, but all you can feel is the emotional "consequences."

    I'm writing this to say I admire how courageous it was of you to make the decision you KNEW you had to make, even though the emotional side of you was fighting it every step of the way. Few people do what is ultimately the best for them, for so many reasons, yet you did. I applaud you for that.

    Hopefully, it's a moment you can look back and say, "Yep, I did it, I survived it, I grew from it, and I was RIGHT." It's a moment we can all look back and tell you we are proud of you.

    PS Yep, that "Pete Best" line made me giggle. But you did what was best for YOU. You are a survivor of what you went through. And again, you were RIGHT. You could do it.


  21. Hi Dawn, thanks for your thoughts. It wasn't easy but it was so right. I couldn't have made this choice when I was younger. Age does have it's advantages.


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