Giving up the Ghost
First of all, a disclaimer...
I have gone back and forth for days about publishing this post, because I am not in the habit of making my personal life public. The relationship I have with social media has always been and will likely continue to be an uneasy one; whilst I'm aware that part, if not most of the attraction for those that subscribe to the likes of twitter is the desire for an insight into the personal lives of those they watch on stage or screen, the expectation that we can, should and will bare our souls to strangers, publish our thoughts and actions no matter how trivial, troubles me. Surely we should all be out there simply living our lives as best we can, rather than obsessively documenting a glorified, 140 character version of it for the edification of strangers?
However; now my time on Ghost is at an end, having thought long and hard about it I feel I'd like to try to explain a little of what this particular show has meant to me and why. A thank you of sorts, I suppose, to those who gave me this opportunity, to the wonderful companies I've worked with these last couple of years and to you, the audience, for showing up and sharing in the story. For without you, truly, there is no story.
Just short of four years ago, I lost my boyfriend to suicide. There is simply no way to put into words the impact of a loss like that in the lives of those left behind. Your world comes crashing down around you and you are left staring at its shattered remains, mutely wondering how to begin to put the pieces back together. Wondering if there's any point even trying, when the most essential piece is suddenly gone.
I remember the down the rabbit hole feeling of looking over my shoulder at home and almost shouting to him that I'd found the missing blender (earth shattering information after a recent disastrous attempt to hand-blitz breadcrumbs). Catching myself, realising it was one more useless piece of information he'd never know, was akin to being punched in the stomach. I'd regularly pick up the phone to call him. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in his arms and rant about just how fucking terrible it all felt; trouble was, the very person I was longing for, the only one who's comfort I really wanted, was himself the reason for this indescribable grief. It made no earthly sense.
Not a day goes by when I don't think of him. I wonder about the man he would be today, the dreams he might have achieved, the lives he would have touched. The fact that I will never share another day with him, never see him growing older and wiser, never see my soulmate again; well, that's a brick wall I'm still running into from time to time today. His death has been the single most devastating experience of my life. For a long time, I pretty much just gave up.
But... The wonder of what I am lucky enough to do; the wonder of theatre, of storytelling, is in its capacity to take us both away from ourselves and into our deepest self at the same time. To allow us to tear a hole in our hearts and souls, examine what we find; our most unspeakable hopes and fears, truths and deceits, our glories and our shame and offer up what we excavate as truthfully as we can, that those watching might see elements of their truth reflected back at them, might even come away having gained something.
What I do for a living has long been an emotional outlet for me. And it has helped to keep me alive through this loss; alongside the unstinting, irreplaceable support of friends, family and colleagues, who have shown me more kindness and patience than anyone could possibly deserve. It has allowed me to unleash the grief I was all but drowning in day to day and miraculously, connect with rooms of living, breathing people who were willing to share in that journey.
No role has ever been closer to my heart than that of Molly Jensen, for what I assume by now are obvious reasons. I have never so wholeheartedly identified with a character in my life. As well as being a professional gift, she has been a personal godsend. Through her strength, courage and fortitude in the face of tragedy I have been able to explore my own grieving process and feel I have, finally, truly begun to move forward. It is no exaggeration to say that this show has helped me to heal and believe I could put my life and my heart back together. Granted, the pieces fit very differently now, but fit they do.
I shall miss Ghost and the woman I've had the privilege of playing with all my heart. I suspect roles that mean this much to you, both as actor and as human being, are a once in a lifetime piece of good fortune. But whether that proves to be right or wrong, I can continue in this profession a happy woman. My love for this particular job? I will sure as hell be taking it with me.
P.S. Alex Holland is far, far from being just a postscript in my life story. I could sit here and write about the man he was until the end of time and not come close to capturing the endless reasons he was so loved by so many. The best possible insight I can offer anyone is to allow him to speak for himself. Check out the link below.
Giggidy giggidy gig gig gig.....
A few more gigs for you!