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Inner Teenagers, Shame, and Downton Abbey

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey. And that’s a big deal.

For those of you who didn’t know me at 13, it still probably comes as no surprise that I lived for romantic period drama. The 2005 Pride and Prejudice is not even arguably why I started taking acting classes. I passed my time considering the difference between a hopeless romantic and a hopeful romantic, posting, “Which Jane Austen character are you?” quiz results to my MySpace, and later the most epically wistful song lyrics to my Facebook. As I’ve grown older, I cannot deny the threads of shame that run through memories of Past Sarah. I’ve moved through my 20s wondering if this main character energy was narcissism, or naïveté. What a tragedy to imply those two things go hand in hand. Even typing this, I feel an unpleasant flush thinking of my stubborn love for sweeping drama, my optimism, and my seemingly immortal hope (because I do actually still believe we could all wind up in a fairytale). For years now, this shame has rendered me downright scared to re-encounter the stories that shaped me. On Friday night, three things happened.

  1. I had a revelation in therapy, a realization that occurred as I spoke it. I surprised myself - a rare dish of hot tears and bewilderment.

  2. Venus left retrograde.

  3. I sat down to rewatch Downton Abbey.

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately reminding us that our inner child goes hand in hand with our inner teenager. They may not be the same, but they each deserve our love and tenderness, in different ways, for different reasons. And this weekend, as snow covers the world outside my window in a blanket of poetry, I choose to make an offering to my inner teenager in the form of glittering gowns, longing glances, and antique courtships. At 15, watching those movies and TV shows and reading those books and listening to those albums, so much of my mind hoped, or rather, anxiously anticipated and wondered and planned — how to make my life glitter like this, if the crush of the week (/month/year(s), IYKYK) would cast a longing glance MY way for once, how my body would look in that gown. Now, I sink into the story in a totally new way. I seem to have introduced my inner teenager to my inner child. I watch with a sense of play and imagination. I am able to surrender, to be and breathe with the characters instead of worrying about my own future. It leaves me feeling younger than I’ve ever felt. And of course, the shame comes to visit, soaring with the gorgeous musical score, leaving me fuzzy around the edges, just like the cinematography. And I meet it with a hug and an invitation to join me on the couch for the next episode. Brené Brown would be proud. Future Sarah is already proud.


from New Moon Newsletter No. 12