Strange feeling that I have since this "Debout Citoyennes" ofEklore, Sunday, March 8, 2020.
She woke me up in the night from Wednesday 12th to Thursday 13th March.
And this text that springs up, then settles down, pauses until this Thursday, March 27, the end of a second week of confinement, when it becomes imperative to share it in this work that we are all doing on our vulnerability, past, present and, perhaps, to come.
And I feel legitimate and necessary to break this image of Strong Woman, stainless, indestructible, which always rises from its ashes, by its will, which is at the same time a reality and a delusion. And to break it here, publicly, on this March 28, 2020, when I am sixty-five years old.
I woke up, in this night of the 12th to the 13th of March, in a tunnel from which I am still struggling to come out.
There was the joy of those eight evenings ofEklore Women's Circles at home, which sparkled, and of which I cherish every moment. Each evening different and unique, like these 100 women, moving and moved, like these 100 women, luminous and enlightening, like these 100 women, teaching like a mirror of this difficult personal passage I am going through. And the weave of differences and sisterhood.
An authentic and tight-knit collective.
The Zenith didn't scare me, I just needed to know my lines. Seven minutes is complex, short, intense. The writing has so much to say, it did not deprive itself of it, and I expelled very different texts, including one that I would have liked, until a final text. Whose intention is set. Passing of words.
One Sunday before last in February, in a world of pre-confinement, a tea, where we agreed definitively on this painful letter to my daughter, to my daughters, to the world too. Time to be true, authentic. To tell the truth, as on a last day, from generation to generation, transmission, sharing.
Then there was the last Thursday night of Rencontres d'Eklore, I love them.
And Solenn and Coco, exhausted after our evening, curled up on the couch, listening to this text, getting up, hugging me: this is the text that, as girls, they would want to hear, that their mothers would like. With some modifications at the margin that ended up being done. We talk about it for Challenges withAnne Marie Rocco
A beautiful Sunday, the1st of March, the last, at the Elevator together, at 100 or so, with such a resonance of our fears in gestation, then of our desires, then of our essences. Deep encounters, under the rain, and an intense end of the day of setting up. We would meet again on Thursday with the speakers who wanted to for a final evening at home. We would only be 2,000 at the Zenith: 5,000 was already in the past, in another world.
A difficult beginning of the week, where I could no longer pronounce my text, I let myself mature.
And finally, on that last Thursday, the text was there, not yet known, but seeping in. It is the last wedge of the 12 speakers. A little unreal and concrete, intimate. Together. On the eve of. It goes well.
We talk about scenography. To illustrate the way, the idea arises to make me arrive on stage in a wheelchair.
This chair that has been lying around my living room for 5 years, unused for 3 years, and that I won't touch for all the gold in the world. This frightening, uncomfortable chair, where I was tossed around, jostled for two long years, where I had to endure, the looks, the dependence, the sidewalks, the unevenness of the street, the dizziness, the fear of being knocked down, the slopes that seemed dizzying. I had to take it again, 6 months ago, because of a tendinitis, and I preferred not to move, not to go out anymore than to repeat the experience. He is no longer me, I am
First of all, I say no, it's a set-up, a lie, it's not me, I'm uncomfortable with those who are still in a wheelchair, it's not who I am.
Then I reason, this opinion comes from professionals of the show, they know. And even I, intellectually, understand the interest of scripting, which says better than words, the effectiveness of visual communication. And I'm not going to die from it, I'm capable of it, I'm taking this risk, it's not a chair that's going to have the slightest impact on my life. It is now public knowledge that I always get up again!
All right, let's get it to the Zenith, this damn chair.
What else? Be careful, for Sunday, it's going to be long, I'm fragile in stressful and noisy environments, I'll have to rest, to lie down. It is imperative that I have a spinning session to feel the scene, to find my space, my balance, my gestures. I insist. As much as I am like everyone else, and without need of particular support, in a familiar universe like my house, where many see nothing of my handicap, as much as in an agitated world, I am helpless, in difficulty, weakened. I know it, I say it.
This delicacy, this fragile energy that the invisible handicap imposes on me, and which, like it, cannot be seen!
Sunday, March 8th, the day begins under the best auspices with Léa, we laugh, we take a cab which deposits us in the bad place, but we arrive there. To the Zenith.
Early to rehearse and get familiar. I am serene.
And it is the effervescence of the assembly. Then, all arrive, climb, descend, stroll, have lunch, kiss or not. It is joyful, disjointed, mobile. Strong.
I don't: not mobile, and Isabelle protects me, during the visit of the stage, in the daily routine - dressing room, lunch, toilets -, I try to rest sitting on a chair in a crowded dressing room. I bandage my forces that I feel fraying.
One calls, one calls me: rehearsal, complicated to 100, the call of the 100 names, several times, in the bazaar, the lights, rehearsal and wedging of the artists, instruction to the group, to 100, it is long.
It is already 2 pm. They quickly make me try the chair, the ramp.
As expected, I hate it, but I reason with myself, I agreed to play the game, and I swear out loud, never again. I joke about it with theEklore volunteers who help me, you'll get rid of that chair, I don't want to see it, I don't want to feel it, lurking in my back, harmful. I test the place of two stools in support on stage, on the side of balance, it goes... more or less.
When do we run the actual rehearsal, the text? The clock is ticking. I worry about it. I need to center myself, to check, to be reassured. And then it will be fine.
The clock has ticked so much, we're going to open the doors. No spinning.
I am exhausted from this hour of waiting next to the stage, it is 3pm. White energy, empty. It will be necessary to make without net. Too late, we open the doors.
Then 3:30 pm, it's the hubbub, it starts, I'm apart, cut off from the maelstrom of the 100 that moves, unites, reunites, helps each other, like a living body. I only see my friends, from far, together, and me, isolated, hanging on a table, a post, taped, alone.
I am equipped with a microphone.
And the show begins, I am not on stage with the group. Of these 100 Women Stand Up Citizens, 12 are speakers: Youna Marette, Sofia Stril-River, Roxane Butterfly and Zuly, Noémie Toledano, Virginie Delalande, Helene Pichon, Anne Soupa, Maud Louvrier-Clerc, Typhaine D, Catherine Tripon, Benedicte Sanson, Annie-Flore Batchiellilys, Lea Moukanas, MarianneEshet, my friend Emmanuelle Gagliardi and Charlotte Marchandise And two ministers Marlene Schiappa and Agnés Pannier Runacher
With this damn staging, it would be really ridiculous, to be on stage, then publicly get up, to go sit in a wheelchair, which then brings me to the front of the stage, to get up again.
So I am downstage or backstage, punctuated by my usual neurotic and emotional "toilet" ritual. Not an easy handicap on the urinary side.
I isolate myself in the nursery space, also deserted, I try a self-hypnosis.
A text message comes in, it's my friend, a teenage friend who, since my accident, has been one of those great virtual supporters, with a little word when he feels that it's not so easy or to encourage me, when he knows that there is a special event like a Zenith for example. He knows the pain and fragility of the invisible disability, one of his relatives suffers from MS. I read it, all to the happiness of his friendly support.
The sms from my friend's account, it's not him, it's his wife who announces: my friend has just died of the coronavirus, my friend is dead. Dead.
I close my laptop, I don't want to see, I want to pay my respects, but it's too soon, too sad, too stupid. Buried sorrow. My guts are in a mess.
My chair pushers are waiting for me, I join them. The crumbled brain.
16:45, they push me on this long access ramp without guardrail behind the stage, they struggle. I'm struggling.
Even if I am not heavy, the chair rocks. As long as they don't let go, I feel their efforts, I hate this insecurity, I reason. I breathe. Finally, we pass a small threshold, a stop, which I feel in my whole body, and we are on stage, in the back.
My friendVirginie Delalande finishes her speech, she walks around the stage.
Solenn announces me. I arrive in a wheelchair with only one desire: to get out of it like the devil out of his box, I struggle to stand up, I am suffocating, I am leaden, heavy, exploded. vulnerable
I refocus, and the words don't come alone: fortunately, I have my plot on a paper that I put on the stools.
Except that it's not at the right distance to read. Too low. I see myself struggling.
If I were mobile, I think I could even run off the stage, but I'm not self-sufficient.
If I had done a spinning, I think I would have screamed the pain of this arrival, reacted and thrown the chair in the dungeon, I would have settled quietly on stage with my sisters of heart of DeboutCitoyennes, I would have benefited from their energy, I would have tested the microphone, the stools, and realizing that I could not rely on my text, I would have asked for the desk that, at the right height, was what I needed. I would have felt and known.
I would have stood up happily, leaving the group, to join the front of the stage on my two crutches, myself.
But this was not the case.
I know the beauty of my text, its emotion, my vulnerability. I love this text which required so much effort, which, beyond my palpable discomfort, paradoxically carried away many of those who listened to it that evening.
Some were just sensitive to the intention, the messages, the being, and I am grateful for that.
But I, and those who knew me well, felt my uneasiness, my imbalance that I was even unable to analyze at the time, totally flabbergasted to be under the influence of the past, of the chair, of nauseating memories. In shock.
In fact, it was the weakness, the memory of my suffering, that crushed me, not the vulnerability.
I finished my pitch, I was told that the room stood up and applauded, I saw nothing, heard nothing.
I came out like a zombie, I was put on a chair, stunned while waiting for the intermission, exhausted.
There, I came down from the stage, and I went to the public side, to see relatives, known people, there were some in the room.
We passed several times along the parterre, but there was nobody there, surprisingly nobody. I couldn't see anyone. I felt like I was walking around an empty carcass. In a labyrinth.
I went backstage, also empty, all were on stage for the second part.
I wandered around a bit. Then, I went back to the audience to see the end of the show. Having resisted the temptation to go back in a hurry, which, anyway, required a logistic that I am incapable of
It was the final, a technician, seeing me isolated, alone, made me go up and sit in a corner of the stage. And approached me Léa Moukanas and Bénédicte Sanson, greeting, all in joy, and it was good to find them, they took care that I was not knocked down.
And it was eight o'clock in the evening, and time to go find our pumpkins. It was teeming with joy, selfies, hugs, and movement backstage. Happy looks, I hid my pain. As much as I could. From those who were moved by my speech and who expressed it to me. From the others, all to their legitimate joy.
I was fortunate that a friend, who was attentive, was there, crossing the park to pick me up and bring me home. Me and my chair
It is 10 o'clock, my house is sleeping.
Never again, without security, without wiring, without support.
I am a woman, I am sometimes vulnerable, I am sometimes fragile, I no longer give the right to anyone, and especially not to me, to put myself in a situation of weakness.
It is 4:46 am, this Thursday March 12, when I was awakened to write this text, I am the fruit of my contradictions. If I needed an illustration!
I will go back on stage, on other stages, smaller, bigger, more international, different. Without a chair. That's for sure.
As I said, there is no failure, no success, no regret, no remorse. The memory of a moment of life, perfect, as it should be: except for one detail, my weakness that devastated my vulnerability.
Compared to the loss of a friend that evening, this memory will only have a relative value. That moment is, for me today, so symptomatic of a world that has since collapsed for lack of meaning and must be reborn in a profound inner transformation.
I am however full of gratitude for the chance I was given to be STAND UP, citizen and committed, with Solenn, Coco, Ryadh, Eklore and 100 women, 100 girls, 100 sisters. If I had to do it again, I would be there. I love them.
I am a woman, I am a mother, I remain STAND UP. I am a citizen. I am STAND UP. I am Eklore. And today more than yesterday, and much less than tomorrow.
Nothing serious, everything is fine.