Okay so bare with me because this is a first……..
I’m writing two blogs at the same time because the topic refers to both and rather than write the same thing for two separate blogs, I decided to combine my blog for
We are 1 Voice and my blog for Male Illusion 101 into one.
I’ve been thinking for quite some time about how to write this because something very unexpected happened to me recently and to be honest, I’m still very blown away by it. Very much like I got to see the “Monster me” in the video tape that was made of my last drunk, I once again face to face got to see another version of the “Monster me” through another entertainer. What do I mean? I recently had the opportunity to work with an entertainer who’s ego walked into the room before he did. I’m not the only one who noticed it and I heard a few of the audience members talking about it so it wasn’t just my perception. I watched this individual throughout the evening and as I did, it further confirmed my initial thoughts. Here’s the thing though……As I watched him, it wasn’t with irritation or judgment, it was with shock. I wasn’t seeing “him” I was actually seeing ME about six years or so ago.
It bothered me so much, I discussed it with my wife once we got home. I asked her if she noticed the over inflated ego as well, or if it were just me. Nope, she noticed it. I expressed to her what I was really seeing and she confirmed the the fact that I was like that and worse. Suddenly I was filled with shame. It didn’t last long because I knew that wasn’t who I was anymore and that the only difference between this person and myself was my ego was definitely alcohol fueled. I swear it was like watching a video of me all over again. Suddenly what people had been trying to tell me about me back then became crystal clear.
As an alcoholic:
We have extremely over inflated egos and pride. Of course we don’t see anything wrong with it. Why would we? The world revolves around us after all! That really IS the way we think. The more alcohol we consume, the more over inflated we get. I couldn’t see it then, but I clearly see now how bad I was. If a conversation wasn’t about me, I wasn’t interested or I’d switch it to be about me. If you weren’t praising me, I didn’t want to hear anything you had to say (which is probably why it is so very hard for me to take a compliment today) I held every title in North Florida therefore it really was all about me, me, me. If you brought a character defect to my attention, I’d cut you off because I didn’t have any! Some of you have never met “That” AJ and I can say it’s a good thing and for those of you who did know “THAT AJ” I am soooooo very sorry. The sad part is that I believed my own thoughts of grandeur while others saw it for what it really was……False Pride. I constantly had to surround myself with people who were praising me because deep down I was full of self loathing and self hatred. When you suffer from an addiction of any kind, 99.9% of the time we hate ourselves on the inside but we portray the opposite on the outside.
In sobriety I have developed a true sense of humility. I am aware that no matter what, it’s not all about me, and that’s okay because it doesn’t have to be. I am finally comfortable in my own skin and I no longer feel that sense of self loathing or hatred for the person who looks back at me in the mirror. Rather than a false sense of Pride, sobriety and treatment gives you a genuine sense of Pride that comes from deep within and one that doesn’t have to be flaunted as a constant reminder. Pride and Egos can be a true sobriety killer if we allow them to be. They are dangerous and must be tempered to say the very least if we wish to remain sober. Along with many more of our character defects, they have to be acknowledged & worked on one day at a time. If we allow them to, Pride and Ego can be an alcoholic (and addicts) biggest down falls. It’s like throwing gasoline on a wild fire and will burn us every single time. It will keep us from asking for help when we need it. It will falsely make us believe we can handle this on our own and “we got this.” when in reality, we are wrong on so many levels. Refusing to believe this can and will eventually be our downfall and back out we will go. If you feel you want to test that theory, go right ahead, let me know how it works out for you. All Pride and Ego got me was into trouble, un-liked and shunned from all those I stepped on and much much more. You NEED humility in order for sobriety to latch on and take affect. That’s how it starts. Breaking down that Pride and Ego by admitting you have a problem, Accepting that you have a problem and willing to seek and receive the help you need to get and more importantly to STAY sober.
As an entertainer:
I’ve said this 1000 times. Pride and Ego have no business in this business! No matter how high up the ladder we may climb, we can be shot down just as easily. We aren’t better than any other entertainer. We’re different, we’re unique in our own style but we’re NOT any better. Among other things, Male Illusion is supposed to be about “Brotherhood” meaning we are to be there for our fellow brothers no matter what our so called status is. When you have an over inflated ego it’s not only noticeable and annoying to your fellow entertainers, but it’s noticeable to the audience as well and that’s not something you want. I speak from experience when I say this and I learned this lesson the hard way. I became un-bookable, looked down upon (and rightfully so) nobody wanted to deal with me let alone perform with me. My ego was fueled by alcohol but that’s no excuse and it doesn’t make it right on any level. It was my Pride and my Ego among other things that damn near ruined my reputation as an entertainer. Trust and believe none of us are exempt from being shunned no matter how many titles one holds or how well one performs.
I’ve seen entertainers even treat their fans as if they were beneath them and THAT’S sad. It seems they’d forgotten that without the fans, we’d be absolutely NOTHING. Venue owners talk, fans and audience members talk and word gets around. You can have them talking about you in a negative manor or a positive one. As always, the choice is yours. One will benefit your career, and the other will destroy it. As I’ve said before, the ONLY time we should look down upon another entertainer (or anyone else for that matter) is when you’re helping them up.
This is in regards to us ALL, title and non title holders the same. Title holders should know better but they don’t always. (Present company included from 2009 – 2010) The Egos tend to get bigger with the crowns. (SOME BUT NOT ALL) Unfortunate but true. Something I say quite often explains it very clearly……” Our crowns do NOT define us, WE define our crowns” One of the things that make a title holder a good title holder is “how” he represents himself at all times and with all people. None of us woke up one morning knowing everything there is to know about drag, we didn’t wake up title holders. All of us, and I mean ALL of us began somewhere, learned from someone who took the time to teach us and we’ve all had to pay our dues.
The moral of this blog is keep your egos in check at all times and if you don’t have one, don’t develop one.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist