On Thursday I stood in the dressing room at the theatre while an actor ironed my dress for me. I’m bad at ironing and she’d become frustrated watching me try. I watched her arms as she quickly, thoroughly removed all the creases. She has strong, slender arms. I’d noticed them during rehearsal, under the purple stage lights and I envied them. I told her. She said she hated them, that they were muscular and manly. I said I thought they were amazing, but apologised for bringing them up.
Then she detailed everything she hated about her body. She said I wouldn’t understand, because I have perfect skin. I told her I have terrible skin. I told her I couldn’t even get started on everything I hate about my face and body. She told me she used to want to be thin so badly. I stopped myself saying she was thin. That she’s very beautiful. That she has incredible skin. Not because those things aren’t true, but because I knew the words would not sink in. Because I know that no amount of someone telling you will make you believe it. I stayed silent and let her air what she needed to. What we all need to, sometimes.
Several people complimented me on my dress and I was glad it didn’t have any creases.
After the reading I left without saying goodbye to anyone. And I’ve been chewing that decision over and over. The next day I apologised to people for leaving and some people were fine with it and some people hadn’t noticed. I replayed every interaction in my mind. Had I been too polite? Not polite enough? Had I seemed needy? Had I seemed ungrateful?
And how did I look while I left without saying anything? How did I look while I apologised? How did I look while I tried to smile casually? Tried to tell them sincerely that I’d loved their work. Tried to tell them that it was me that was the problem.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 30th March 2019 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.