It started in the offices of Communication4Good, a Santa Cruz-based company that helps promote social action platforms. Sandy Skees and Irene Tsouprake sat and talked with me for an hour about how JANE might be part of a much bigger picture. They coined the phrase for us, “It’s a movie and a movement.” Their vision is constantly moving from the personal to the cultural through the widest possible lens of how we are all interconnected. And most of all, they were still and quiet when I talked about my own experience as a teenager. I left their offices, sat in my car and cried. Partly because they are grown up women with grown up vision. Filmmaking sometimes can feel like a young person’s medium, with all the new technologies – even learning how to post on a blog was a steeper learning curve for me than for the rest of the team. Partly it was the pure soaring joy of riding in the slipstream of their bright minds and the real possibility of getting some help at their level of work. But then it happened again at the Rising International luncheon, and I started getting more curious.
At the Rising luncheon, our fabulous warrior friend and CEO of Rising International, Carmel Jud, set us up in a meeting with Jacki Zehner, President of Women Moving Millions, the keynote at their annual fundraising luncheon. We were prepared for a five minute meet and greet, and instead, found ourselves in a powerful conversation with another amazing, awake woman. Jacki has an extraordinary gift as a deep listener. With all the remarkable things she is accomplishing “out there,” she has retained a solid and tender “in here,” a soul who listens for conversations about the soul. Each one of us at the table with her – Director Mike Buffo, Producer Ike Jablon, Producer and actress Brittney Buffo, my husband Dan, our friend Janice – felt seen and heard. What came out of my mouth was a detail I hadn’t said out loud to anyone but Mike and Brittney, a detail about my process writing the rape scene in JANE and what it took to get it right, pulling it out of my own secrets. Once we left that meeting, I fell into Janice’s arms (she is my oldest,dearest friend for forever) and cried from the deep belly. In the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt no less.
So, as is my path, I took all these tears to therapy. If you are still reading, then you know how important it can be to just talk something all the way through, and sometimes the most sensitive stuff doesn’t show up until all the details are carefully arranged. So here is what it is often like for me, making a movie based on something that I have kept hidden – from you and from me. Sometimes it feels like picking at a scab. Sometimes like ripping a bandage off with very little kindness. Sometimes I go so numb that I just have to go to bed and watch hours of bad television and hope no one notices that I am gone. During those hours, when I turn off the high functioning brain and the woman who (as my step-kids are sick of hearing) got a 4 point in graduate school, the teenage girl who has been hiding takes some time to adjust to her new life in the brighter light. She has been living in the deepest cavern of Self for a long , long time.
Here is what I am learning: these stories stay hidden for reasons. They come to the surface in the presence of kindness and acceptance, and for no other reason. They do not come up to Become the Face of Rape. They do not come up to Prove a Point. They come up at some real cost to the one who carries them. So as we continue to get JANE made – and we will – please turn your hearts to the ones with the stories. Not because we are victims, or special, or should be held separate even in admiration. If it is one and four women (and boys and men have secrets and stories too), we are almost always in the presence of hidden young people who need us to go slow, find our empathy, and wait with respect.
I expect I will keep crying. I think it is a good sign.