Dealing with Self-Sabotage

Spoiler alert! I don’t have the answers yet.

I’m not perfect. Heck, there are reminders every day of how imperfect I am. And even though I know that I’m not such a bad person, that I’m actually probably in the category of “good people,” I seem to have such huge insecurities that they subconsciously sabotage me. I’m calling you out, subconscious.

So back in December, I scheduled the first 2 of 3 dialect coaching lessons, because my coach is very busy and was booked up until January 7. He’s located in London, so I was very careful to figure out the time differences and I put the first lesson in my calendar. For some reason, I did not enter the second lesson, and I’m sure you see where this is going. These lessons cost about €75 each, and I’d also paid for 2 hours of research time for him to analyze her accent. I made it to the first lesson on time, bright and early at 8am on a Monday morning. But for some reason, starting some time before this day… I had it in my mind hat my next lesson was around the same time the following Monday. 7 or 8 AM, couldn’t remember exactly so I figured I would check earlier in the morning since I would be up for another webinar (on Forex, boring, I know, but I’ve never been able to count on acting to pay the bills) at 6AM. I’d left my friend’s house early the day before telling him I had to spend more time that evening preparing for my lesson, and get to bed early so I could wake up early. Which I did.

So I was fast asleep when my teacher Skyped me and texted me around 11:45PM wondering where I was. Because it was 7:45AM for HIM… and time for our lesson. When I woke up and looked at my phone at 5:45AM, this is the first thing I saw, and the air was just sucked from my chest. I panicked. I texted and emailed and couldn’t pay any attention during the webinar. I was texting a friend in London, freaking out. And for about 3 hours I was just a mess. Had this been a French lesson for which I pay $10 or so, I wouldn’t have been so distraught. But this was a lesson I couldn’t make up right away, and couldn’t really afford to pay for again. I had been trying so hard to save money, and to make more money (hence, the Forex webinar)… I’d already been going through my belongings and listing things on eBay, and was so thrilled just a few days before, when an old French magazine with Audrey on the cover fetched $87. And now I’d just blown it. Not only had I wasted a large sum of money, but I missed a lesson that was really very important to me. This role means a lot to me, and all I had to do was double check the time before I went to bed on Sunday. I was just SO certain that it was the next morning, and I don’t really know why. I’m usually very good with appointments. I think I’ve only missed one or two others in my entire life (and I’m older than you think I am!)

I was crying and kicking myself, and my friend tried to assure me that surely my teacher would understand and take pity and wouldn’t charge me for it… I stayed in this state for 3 hours before hearing back from my teacher, who no, did not take pity, and would not excuse my mistake.

“Hello? Hello, is this thing working? I don’t understand…”

I knew it wasn’t a good idea to stay in a foul mood all day, I know things can just snowball if you do that, but I was miserable. I hid under the covers for another 3 hours until I knew I had to get up and go to another appointment. This one has nothing to do with Audrey, but you might find it amusing anyway, so let’s take a detour.

I’d received a call a few days earlier from a guy who just introduced himself as Josh. From his message, I couldn’t tell if we had already met, or not. He didn’t introduce himself or anything. He was interested in casting me in a short film he had written and wanted to meet to read the script. So that’s what I thought we were doing. It was raining that day, and he arrived at the café in Burbank a few minutes before me. He texted to say he was there and outside. I soon parked, got out my umbrella, and found him. Turns out the place was all outdoors, and basically closed (Also, I didn’t recognize Josh at all). Not quite sure why he couldn’t have said that before I got wet, but OK. I followed him in my car to another shopping area, where he turned in and then led me into a Chinese restaurant. “I’m guessing they won’t serve coffee here…” I said. We sat and for at least 20 minutes he talked about the character, and also made sure to mention that he was the best writer in Los Angeles. Seriously. Then he suggested going elsewhere. Which I agreed to, because the smell of Chinese food was getting to me and we obviously weren’t going to order anything, so why be rude to the owners?

We drove again, and ended up in a bright bakery with high ceilings and pretty cakes. I ordered a late and a tiny tira misu. He didn’t get anything, nor offer to get mine. He continued on about the character and script and finally took it out of his bag to ask me to read “just the first line.” Which was 3 words long, two of which were profane. Fine, OK. I did. Then I asked, “is there a reason why the script isn’t formatted…?” “Oh, it’s still rough” etc etc… So I asked “When do you think it will be ready for me to actually read?” “Oh, it’s ready now! It’s done! We could shoot it today if you’re ready, even.” And that’s when I knew that he didn’t know what he was doing, for sure. I apologized and said I’ve learned from past mistakes and had to insist on reading the script and seeing some of his previous work, and the work of his DP (if there was one), before committing to the project. He then started getting extra-weird, saying he doesn’t give his work to people who might not like it, why would he do that? “Well, not everybody is going to like everything…” I said, staring out the window at the women waiting for the bus and wondering if I should just get up and excuse myself. “That’s not even an original thought, you probably heard that somewhere,” he said. “Yeah,” I replied. “Because it’s something everybody knows. It’s not original, it’s common sense.” Who is this man, who thinks he’s a genius and is afraid of people not liking his writing to such an extent that he would behave this way?? Then he started getting aggravated and said that it wasn’t just up to me to accept the role, he had to want me in the role too, and now he’s thinking I’m just not right for the part… then he packs up his bag and gets up, saying “you’re not right, there’s something wrong with you,” as he heads towards the door. To which I reply, in between sips of my latte, “something’s wrong with you!” I sat for a moment digesting this whole event, before packing myself up and heading home.

Normally, something like this might have been just amusing, but in my mood, it was one more sign that I should leave L.A. for good. The universe was laughing at me, sending me crazy people rather than actual work. It’s never been confined to L.A., and I knew it. The project I had once agreed to act in without reading a script or seeing the director’s work was a French man in Paris, years ago. Taught me that lesson. But I had come back here hoping to get decent representation and a few impressive things for my résumé that I could bring back to Europe, and in nearly 2 years, I had failed. And the only person calling me up about a role was this crazy person.

I was not seeing the positive side of life on Monday. I managed to get myself to ballet class that evening, but found myself struggling with combinations that were a bit beyond what I could easily do (I finally decided to start attending a more intermediate level class recently, which has been challenging). I know one must practice practice practice, and that’s what I’m there for, but I was so down on myself for not being able to do anything right that day. I felt I couldn’t do anything right. I forced myself to dance even when I had no clue what I was doing. The feeling of failure was heavy that day, but I made it through to Tuesday.

Somehow I had attracted this. This failure, this sabotage… I am still trying to figure out how. The biggest goal in my life has ben simply to act, to create beautiful, thoughtful, magnificent films (ideally set pre-1960 and based on true stories) and somehow I’ve sabotaged myself the entire way. In my 20’s, I was so quiet and introverted that I didn’t understand the value of networking, and missed numerous chances to connect with people who could have potentially helped me. In my 30’s, I started focusing on that, but then now had no clue where to meet these people. I didn’t have access to the same successful crowd I had been exposed to as part of my previous relationship. Life has felt like one of those films where the protagonist is in a hallway of doors, opening each one in search of someone, while the person they’re seeking is zig-zagging between doors right behind them when their back is turned.

I need to get clever and stop the self-sabotage somehow, especially if I’m going to be successful in this current goal. I’m aware that something inside of me is afraid of success. But what to do about it? That’s what I need to work out…

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