The Teen Talking Circle Project

Lindsay Wagner makes little distinction between her role as an actress, advocate, mother, humanitarian, or author. What unites these various parts is a commitment through her work and her personal life to advancing human potential.

McKayla: How has acting helped your life?

Lindsay: I started taking acting classes when I was twelve. It turned out to be sort of like therapy for me. In those days, the more pain I was in, the more jokes I told. I couldn’t share my pain directly with anyone. I always felt like that would be a burden. I was working on a good case of ulcers from the time I was fourteen until I was twenty. I was eating myself up with the things I was afraid to let people see. When I started acting, it was incredible. It was like someone had taken a knife and lanced this huge swollen wound indside me. Finally I had a place where I could express my pain and I felt safe because I didn’t have to put my name on it. I think acting kept me alive back then. Something else happened when I shared myself through those characters: I saw people benefit from it. They thanked me and that really meant something to me. It was the first time I thought maybe there was something good about sharing my pain.

McKayla: Besides acting, what else has helped you in dealing with your pain and healing?

Lindsay: I’ve experienced several different healing methodologies over the years — counseling, self-help seminars, and I’ve read a lot — but none of them will work unless you really want to heal. A lot of people say they want to get out of pain, and I’m sure that’s true, but they aren’t willing to make healing a high priority. They aren’t willing to look inside to see the source of their pain in order to deal with it.

I have always had a strong spiritual life. That’s not to say I didn’t spend a few years, when I was a teenager, cut off from my experience of that reality. I remember feeling so hurt once I said, "God, how can you be good if you let all these bad things happen? I don’t want to talk to you anymore." But by the time I was sixteen, I’d sorted out that it wasn’t God’s fault people acted the way they did. He/She was waiting for people to wake up, to stop indulging in their fear/control games, and to start using their will to choose to be open to learning instead of protecting themselves. What a different world it would be if people did that! I also realized I didn’t have to understand everything in order to ask for help from the source of all life, the source of love.

So I would ask for strength, guidance, healing, clarity, something constructive that would bring me joy. I just kept asking and opening myself to receiving help. I still do. The tough part of that process is not to get a fixed idea on how you want the help. You can be given a better solution than you could have imagined, or the first step in an even bigger healing process, but you look right by it because you’re looking for the answer the way you think it should be.

Once you go inside and weed through the muck, you will find the real beauty, the truth about yourself. Then no matter what goes on around you in the physical universe, hang on to what you know. No matter who rejects you, don’t lose touch with your higher self, with the higher powers, with anythng tht you can find which is of the light, that will give you strength in those times when you feel so lonely. That’s the only way I have made it through. And when you’re stuck and you can’t get any further by yourself, you’ve got to use your will to reach out for help. If the person you ask can’t help you, reach somewhere else. Of course the best kind of help is the kind that helps you find the truth inside yourself again.

When I was younger, there were times when I was in so much pain I would lock myself away for days, never telling a soul. Finally, one friend I had, though relentless love, got through to me. She would barge in when I was all locked away and say, "This is not acceptable, what’s going on?" But you can’t always make it somebody else’s responsibility to come get you. At some point you have got to take responsibility for saying, "Okay, I’m doing it again. I’m locked away," and use your will to reach out for help. I would experience terror trying to reach out. I’d ask myself, "What’s the big deal? Why can’t I call? Why can’t I tell someone?" Finally I’d get the guts to call my friend.

Afterwards, I’d be so embarassed that I even had to ask for help and I was mortified that she had seen me in a fragile condition. Then I’d cry and we’d laugh and it would be over and I’d go, "That wasn’t so bad, what the heck was I so afraid about?" But I’d go throught those same feelings again, every time. Eventually it got easier and easier, and through that relationship I learned to do in life what I learned to do through my work. Look at Mother Nature, all the things we do to her. We slap cement all over her, yet through the tiniest crack in that cement, something will grow. That’s the nature of God, the Creator, Wakan Tanka, whatever you want to call it. All we have to do, when we get solidified by our negative emotions, like cement over a growing thing, is use our will to make those cracks. Have the guts to make the tiniest crack and let that source come through with new life.