I am so pleased to be able to share some of my story with the broader public via the generosity of the people at ET and the warmth and kindness of Cameron Matthison. If you missed the interview on air, here it is in it’s longer version.
Yesterday, I was on set talking to Peter Bergman and one of the Y&R directors, Owen Renfroe, about a kiss that was to occur at a particular part of a scene. It is my belief that there are all kinds of kisses. Some are passionate, some are full of love, and some come out of compassion and kindness.
Kindness gets a bad rap sometimes. It can be equated with weakness. One of my favorite sayings is, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness” because sometimes it takes an enormous amount of strength to be kind, especially to someone that hurt you. Kindness can be a courageous act.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
Now, the million-dollar question: What’s our problem? Why aren’t we kinder?
Why aren’t we kinder? What is it in our culture that has suddenly equated cruelness with honesty? I don’t think we’ve always been this way. I don’t think we’ve always been a culture filled with violence, bullying, and self-interest. I don’t even really believe it is in our nature to be mean. I think we’ve simply made it into a habit.
There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
I think Kindness can become a habit, just like meanness. And it’s fruits are far more bountiful. In our scene, it made my character feel more loved, and as if she might be able to trust a man once more and is helping her make her own generosity grow. In my own life, my husband Jon’s kindness has made me feel just the same way.
Forgive and be kind. Forgive and be kind. Or at least… strive to be kind.
You never know what another person is battling with inside themselves.
Every day, all day, I feel the choices I have to make dogging me: Am I going to be in fear or faith today? Am I going to be strong, or give in and finish the last of that bottle of white wine with a bag of peanut M&M’s?
Sometimes I make choices out of discomfort: because I am afraid of what other’s think of me, because I want to be liked, or because I am not feeling good about myself. I don’t like how I feel when I make choices from this place of self-doubt. It always feels like I am not accepting my vulnerability, which is a real part of who I am. Fragility is not the same as weakness.
When I’m feeling particularly challenged, I try to call up what my self-created “inner wise woman” would say. I imagine her wearing lots of beads and interesting prints, with long grey hair wrapped up in a bun, or over her shoulder in a braid.
She says to me, “Everyone is afraid, most of the time. Try and remember this. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the companionship of people wiser than yourself. Seek them out. Lean on their wisdom. And be kind–they came by it hard, just like you.”
Since I released my book into the world, people have asked me, “How did you do it? How did you liberate yourself from all that inner turmoil?” I have been thinking about it for some time now, and I think I can say, it was a choice. I chose to fight. I chose to believe that I deserved better. I chose to believe that I was strong enough to get through whatever pain I was feeling to get to the other side.
It’s a small thing, a choice, in the moment, but very powerful.
You might not believe it, but it’s a totally BIZARRE coincidence that I am both releasing my book, “Murdering My Youth,” publicly, and having my first air day on Y&R TOMORROW, April 16th. I assure you, I planned to release the book in March, and then one hundred and one things got in the way. When I was able to get down to the nitty gritty of dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” it took far longer than I anticipated. Then Michael Logan asked when it would be ready and I forced myself to set a date. Which I missed. Then it just happened that his article and my release date coincided. Magical, weird, wonderful… and SCARY!
Yes, being on Y&R has been a whirlwind: great writing, incredible actors, an amazing directing and producing team… it’s really a dream come true. And let’s not forget the fantastic Peter Bergman, who has been my sherpa, so to speak, helping me get into the groove of the studio et al. I count my blessings every single day.
As for the book: I am offering a better price on my website (order form below or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) for those who want an autographed copy, or just want it cheaper. It may take me an extra day or two getting to you, but it will cost $9.99 plus shipping from me. I have to ask a bit more on Amazon and Create Space since they take such a big bite out of the price (I see 5 bucks from the $15.25) however, you will be able to buy the ebook version there, which I can’t provide, and the book itself will probably get to you much faster.
I must warn you: the book is intense. It is also FUNNY, (as they say, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Fart, and you fart alone”) but I don’t want to sugar coat it. It’s my story of my upbringing and it’s a real one. I won’t blame you if the book is not for you, (I’ve thrown one or two books across the room, myself) but I DO hope you check out Y&R if you haven’t already! I’m having a BALL and I think the story is wonderful. Good, old-fashioned, daytime DRAMA!
In the article you will find out that my book, Murdering My Youth, is being released April 15th.
You will be able to buy it through my website or on Amazon. I am doing my best to make sure it is at a reasonable price as things are still tough out there.
If you would like to pre-order or have a signed copy write to me at email@example.com or use the contact form below. I will contact you to arrange payment and shipping.
Thank you in advance for your support of this book. A warning: it is a fast read but not a light one. Issues of child abuse, death, trauma, and grief are dealt with in detail. Yes, there is humor, and sometimes there is strong language but I do not mean to offend, minimize, or sensationalize. My hope is that in sharing my story those who can relate will feel less shame, those who once judged will feel more compassion, and those who suffer in silence will consider reaching out for help.
Where to begin… let’s start with how INCREDIBLY LUCKY I feel to have been asked to come and work on this amazing show. The people are so nice, the sets are awesome, the writing is fantastic… I could go on and on…
I got up at 5:30 AM this morning (yowsa!) and after my new routine of hot water and lemon first thing in the morning (really, don’t knock it ’till you try it) I drove to CBS Television City, which is right next to The Grove. (When I was a kid it was only the Farmers Market. Now when I say that people ask “Which one?” as if I mean an outdoor fruit and vegetable market!) I drove into the Fairfax entrance and got my parking pass from the guard pinching myself to make sure it was all real.
Then I found my way up to the hair and makeup room where the lovely and talented Kathy Jones graced me with a face for television. The first person I can remember (hello, no caffeine) coming up to me is Amelia Heinle, who was on All My Kids but also on Loving back in the day. The Loving studio was right across the hall from AMC, so we got to see a lot of one another for a few years, waving across a crowded hallway!
Well, as you might have imagined, she was absolutely lovely. It was so nice to see her. I know she’s playing “Victoria,” “Billy’s” wife (for you who have not yet tuned in to the glories of Y&R my character, “Kelly,” had a one night stand with “Billy” and screwed up their marriage) so she and I will get to glare at each other now and then… or rather, she will glare and me and I will cower appropriately.
Then I met the delightful David Tom, who is the brother of Heather Tom and such a nice guy. Of course we laughed at his character’s terrible luck these days!
Suddenly, Peter Bergman flew into the dressing room and said, “Cady McClain!” swooping in to give me two big smooches! (Friendly ones, of course!) It was SO nice to see him after all these years… I think the last time was in 2004, when I was in Los Angeles for something-or-other. I reminded him what he said to me then.
“Cady McClain! You always land on your feet!”
I just loved that. Never forgot it.
We were soon all called down to the set to get dry blocking. The director today was Casey Childs, from All My Children. We knocked out his excellent blocking in a jiffy… and oh, I also got to see Kristoff St. John, who I have run into 100 times at various events, ever since we were kids… you know, back when the earth was cooling. SUCH a nice guy. He likes to give a lot of razz to one of the stage managers, Herbie, who is as cute as his name.
Peter was nice enough to fill me in on some of the details of “Kelly” and “Jack’s” history. I knew a fair amount from the producers and writers, but those little details that can only come from a fellow actor were so helpful. Then I had to tromp back up to hair and makeup to get my hair more fabulous, and then to my dressing room where, voila, my costume was awaiting me.
Back at AMC and ATWT (As the World Turns) we always had to pick up and return our costumes so I gotta say, I was feeling pretty damn fancy.
After I was all dolled up, Peter and I had some time to do some catching up about old pals we both knew and remembered fondly, as well as the wonderful examples actors like David Canary and James Mitchell set for us. We both felt so lucky to experience those golden days.
Soon we were called down to the set and I got an RF mike, which is a microphone that is attached to your body via a wire. It really helps when you are deep in a set where the booms (microphones on a long pole attached to a stand) can’t reach you. We had a very nice dress rehearsal and then some notes and then recorded our scenes for you all to watch! I don’t want to tell you too much about this process, but let’s just say it is GREAT to work with PETER and DAVID! Such PROS! I LOVE THAT!
Oh and they did a really nice thing for me: the stage manager announced my name to everyone and they all applauded to welcome me to the show. I mean, seriously. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that! WOW.
I had fun, what can I say? It felt soooo good to be acting again. Sometimes acting can be exhausting, but I don’t think that’s going to happen here. I think this is going to be a very fulfilling experience. I am so looking forward to sharing it all with you.
Thank you so much for the lovely and supportive comments on Twitter and FB. You really lifted me up today, and I appreciate that so much.
It may be too simplistic to put it this way, but I have been through a thing or two. Because of what I experienced I had to dig deep to find words of wisdom by which to live. Fortunately, there is a lot of wisdom out there! I thought today I would share with you some of what has been helpful for me.
I have carried this pamphlet around with me for about twenty years. Even if you are not an “ACOA” aka the adult child of an alcoholic parent, it’s not hard to relate. What they call “dysfunction” is something many families can relate to, whether the grandfather was a rage-aholic, or ones mother was a control freak, or someone you love is trying to recover from an addiction.
I hope it is useful to you today. I wish you a day full of gentleness toward yourself and others.