Writing this film was almost unbearable because

Tonight I finished writing the shot list for the film shoot this Saturday. Last night I wrote the dialogue; this evening I padded it out with camera positions and actions. It was very hard to write. I finished off three bottles of wine (they were already opened) and I haven’t stopped crying yet. Is this okay? Is it okay to feel so distraught about the emotional substance of a creative project? Obviously, this is based in reality and my personal experience is reflected in the film but this feels so big and I feel so small and vulnerable and alone and it hurts. Maybe, once the filming is over, I will value this experience but right now I’m finding it extremely hard; it’s almost unbearable. Almost.

As I got to the part where Ali starts to feel the feelings she put outside of herself when she was being sexually abused as a child, I had to get up and pace the room as I cried. A sudden taste of orange squash in my mouth and the pattern of a glass in my eight year old hand clouded the present. When this happens I feel crazy because of the conflicted thoughts in my head. Knowing what had happened before I was handed the orange juice but not being able to speak about it – I can’t properly describe how that makes me feel. It’s such a big feeling and I’m frightened by it and by the film I’m making. I’m frightened of making it worse, not better.

I’m adding to this post twelve hours later in the rational hours of daylight. My feelings had nowhere to go when I was eight. My lovely colleague, Sharon, commented on being able to put this experience into a creative project, as I packed my bag to leave work only an hour after arriving. She said without this the feelings would be internalised. So my conclusion is this project should and will go ahead and the painful feelings need to be experienced and released.

I talk so much about not resisting pain and getting curious about it, perhaps because I don’t practice it as much as I could. With hindsight, I can see this emotional release has been brewing for a while and I did resist it. When I remember pacing up and down as I cried last night it strikes me that I did the same pacing action during labour. The pain was so great that in order to not think about it I focused on my feet pacing the room. I couldn’t speak; I just had to keep moving.

At eight years old I couldn’t move until it was over and my dad’s hand released its grip on my shoulder. In the kitchen he handed me a glass of orange squash; he let go of the glass before my hand gripped it; the glass fell to the floor and smashed. After the verbal head bashing he gave me, I escaped to the woods, behind our house, and peeled the silver birch bark into precisely matching strips. Likewise, filmmaking is a way for me to cope with big feelings; the obsessively repetative tasks involved satisfy the parts of me that need to feel in control. And I get to say what happened and show it in a way that helps me to make sense of a mindlessly nonsensical act.

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