"Hey! I was wondering if you could help me tape the audition for tomorrow. I will practice the speech in the bedroom first, but I would not mind a bit of assistance after! It should not take long."
"Yeah, I got you. Hit me up when you are ready."
"Thanks! Will do."
Maggy has been doing auditions for almost six years; nevertheless, the first take still troubles her. She needs to go over the script one last time before recording. They have lived with Aaron for more than four years now, and he knows perfectly well that it will take a lot more time than Maggy promises. But he does not mind.
She finds mirrors to be helpful when she needs to practice dynamic scenes. Maggy is auditioning for the role of a mother that tries to resolve issues with her daughter. In the therapist's office, a mother gives an emotional speech when asked a simple question: what brings you here today? It is always hard for Maggy to play mothers since she doesn’t have children of her own. She is not sure whether there is anything maternal in her that would be convincing. However, mirrors sometimes help find sensations she previously didn't know existed.
Maggy has already memorized the script well enough. She finds a comfortable position in the chair, imagining herself in the office, trying to figure out how to answer the question. She takes a close look at herself and begins. \
Maggy as Mother: I have started owning up to my regrets recently. I messed up more times than I can count when it comes to our relationship. I never thought about the many ways my insecurities affected her. I never question my relations with food and how I may be sending harmful messages to my daughter. No one ever talked about eating disorders when I was growing up. All my female friends were on diets, and they all were insecure about their bodies. I never imagined that it was not the norm.
Maggy as Mother: She has been playing the game of basketball since preschool. She used to carry the ball around whenever we went for a walk. She would hold it with both of her hands and squeeze it tight. I could feel how comfortable she was with that basketball.
Maggy as Mother: I never attended her games. She was not a good player when she was a kid. All her coaches told me that, and I believed them. I saw that with my own eyes. When I was picking her up from practice one day, I told her she was not good. I said that coaches would not allow her to stay with the team if she would not get better. We had a big fight in the car. I would shout at her in the car. She was so bad it was hard to watch, and I wanted her to know that for some reason. On top of that, she was aggressive during practice on the court. I had to convince her that at least she should be nice to her teammates, but I kept choosing the wrong words.
Maggy as Mother: She would shout and cry in response. And it just made me more furious. Why is this girl not listening to me? Can't she see her arguments are not proving anything? She would look so upset, and I would only add to her condition. Not once did I stop and ask myself, why does my ten-year-old behave like that? Am I the problem here? I would never do that. I would call her names; I would make sure she knows that this fight happens because of her. I wanted her to know that I was angry because of her. I was the one to say the last words, and she was supposed to be the one to make the first make amends.
Maggy takes a short break after this part, even though she has read the script many times before. She knows that it gets more emotional as the monologue develops, and she needs time to prepare herself for tearing up.
Maggy as Mother: I feel embarrassed admitting to what I thought was right. I wish I could go back in time to say It is ok to be bad at basketball. You can still love the game. You can come to practice. One day you will get better. Don’t worry. I would never use what other people said about her to shame her. I don’t want her to constantly feel the pressure of everyone watching her and judging her every move. I thought that I needed to be the filter for the world. I thought it was my job to traumatize her first to prepare her. I assumed that if I were the one to break her, the world would not be able to. But as it turned out, it did not work. Even though she has recovered, and we are on good terms, I sometimes see that look in her eyes. Just for a split second, I can see all the agony I have caused her over the years. I don’t know what to do with it. Everything I have done deprived her of peace and confidence in the world. Who will believe and support her if not her mother?
Maggy as Mother: I created innate insecurity that she can’t achieve without help from outside. I have never gone through real struggles in life. I met her father when I was young, and I never had to deal with pretty much anything. I never questioned carrier choices. I never thought about what I wanted. My duty was to take care of children. But I wanted more. I never believed in my ability to do more, though. I focused on whatever I already had, scared that one day it may all disappear. I stayed in a relationship I did not enjoy, where I did not feel appreciated, and I passed down this fear to her. I did not know how to navigate life, and I ensured she would not as well.
Maggy as Mother: I did not control many things in my life, but I handled my body. I have been on a diet since I was twelve. I did not need to ask for advice: I knew it all myself. To some extent, that was my true power. It was my piece of land where I had my own rules. My resilience and discipline helped me never slip. Unfortunately, I passed it down to my kid. She was not thin growing up. I felt like if I were to stop controlling her, she would grow big and lose her natural beauty. That was another I mistake I made. I focused on her beauty. I was almost demoralizing her for that. If her weight increased, I would tell her: you are beautiful! Why are you doing that to yourself?
Maggy’s mother left her when she was just a teenager. She tried to reach out, but no one ever picked up the phone. She has developed an eating disorder. Maggy was sure her mother left because she was not a good enough daughter. She stopped eating as a punishment. Even though Maggy has never talked to her mother about anything that happened, her acting roles sometimes help her close this aching gap in her heart. She can say the words she wished someone had told her, relive moments she wished were different.
Maggy as Mother: I didn’t know she was sick. So, I would encourage her and tell her how beautiful she was. She did not need to hide her not eating from me: I was encouraging it. Mom, I will skip dinner. I am not hungry. And I would say that is my girl! You are not as hungry all the time, right? Now I know that she was, and I know that my encouragement did irreversible damage to her mental state. When I noticed that she was getting too thin, I would tell her to have dinner with us, and I would watch her eat all of that. I thought I was a good mother. Imagine. I thought I caught it early. But I only made her sicker. She would get thinner, I would make her more food, and she would be even worse. I have done that to my girl.
Maggy as Mother: And now I am sitting here. We have talked a lot, and I know she said she forgives me for all I have done. But I can’t forgive myself. I wanted to shelter her from the world. I thought I helped her prepare for the tribulations. Instead, I caused her all the trouble. I was cruel - the world was not. She only got better when she moved away from me. I was so angry at her for not calling me. And I would tell her that. I told her I loved her. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to let her know that I was with her in all the hardships. But as it turned out, my love was damaging. Her happiness was not with me by her side. The only thing she needed was to be away from me. I was the problem. I was the damage.
Maggy as Mother: It took me so long to understand that I needed to be away from her if I wished her happiness. In her junior year, I was able to let go. I stopped calling. I knew that she would show up whenever she was ready. I did not hear from her the entire year. She did not even call me on my birthday. I did not know if she was still alive. I knew nothing, and that was torture. But I had time to reflect on what happened. And by the end of the year, she came back home, and we made amends. She told me everything, and I listened. I never realized how sensitive she was. It felt like I got to know a different person. As if she was not my daughter this entire time but someone else.
Maggy as Mother: You asked what I am here for, and I gave you this messy explanation. I just could not put it in one sentence. I am here because I want to move on from all of that. I want to try to forgive myself, and for the remaining time I have, I want to be better. Even for just a moment, I want to be there for my daughter. I want to see her ups and downs as she moves through life. I want to be there in the most genuine way I can be. I am here for the sake of our future.
"Babe! Are you awake? I have a few lines for you to help me with. I am pulling the camera, and we can..."
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Eva: Thanks for the story. Let me tell you one: when I was just a beginning writer, my freshman teacher had a prejudice against contractions. She must have been British, because she preached to never use a lazy contraction when there is a perfectly good pair of words; and that habit stuck with me for years. But if you want to know if it is okay, try reading the dialogue outloud. I notice that most folks, except maybe the very young, tend to use a lot of contractions. In college, a prof tried to break me of the habit by reading one of m...
Thank you for the feedback! I will (definitely) incorporate your suggestions in my future writings.