At 17, I was sexually abused by a voice coach who had become a mentor, a friend, my family. At 18 years old, a blood clot caused my body to go into septic shock. I was in a coma for six months, and after a total gastrectomy, I was unable to eat or drink a drop of water for six of the past ten years. After 27 surgeries, I was miraculously reconnected with the intestines I had left. To persevere through those tumultuous years took great inner and outer strength — strength I didn’t know I was capable of until I was tested.
At 18, my grandmother was faced with life-threatening circumstances and little did I know, I would connect with her struggles so deeply. When I was 18 — a week before my high school senior prom — I randomly found myself in intense pain. I woke up six months later, only to learn that my stomach had literally burst to the top of the OR and exploded, and after both my lungs collapsed and 122 units of blood, I almost died. Here I was, suddenly displaced from my former life as a carefree, audacious, musical-theatre-loving teen, and thrust into a world of tubes, bags, beeping machines, and a world of crisis where everything became minute to minute — a fight from physical, emotional and spiritual survival.
So what do you do when you’ve invested everything into your passion and you can’t follow it anymore? I’ve always thought about what would a world-concert pianist would do if he injured his hand, or a dancer breaking a leg…
…but sprains heal and wounds can eventually mend. Dire circumstances felt much more long lasting; when at 18 I awoke from a coma. Although the medical staff—that suddenly became everyday faces—was more concerned about keeping my organs and me alive, I was still trying to grapple with one frightening new concern:
Would I ever be able to sing and dance on stage again?
This may be the most vanilla story of a bad sexual encounter ever, but I doubt the story is rare. In fact, I had a least one conversation with a female comedy acquaintance where she implied she had a similar experience with the same guy. This is how too many men in comedy view women. And as I hear the cries of men in the distance yelling “not all men!” “I would never!” I know. I agree. Not all men ignore the no’s of women. Of course not all men are rapists, sexual assailants or grey area lurkers, but all women have faced some form of misogyny small or large, and isn’t that the problem?
I've spent a lot of time "waiting" in my life. As a kid I grew antsy with impatience, waiting until I was "older" to start dating, to go to the mall unsupervised, to learn how to drive. I was counting the days until I turned 18, giddy at the idea of college and independence at last. Two weeks after I turned 18, I was pulled into another realm where "waiting" took on an entirely new meaning.
"Besides," this voice takes a big deep breath after monologuing so long. This voice always loses its breath after it spews so much self-hate and bile and self-invalidation into my little ears, usually at night or at moments where I start to feel confident. This voice does not use its diaphragm properly and could benefit from dialect classes, ones I will inevitably register and pay for it to attend.