About this submission
(This is my very first submission of a dramatic work to a contest. My story is in the development phase. I have a group of people who are excited to work with me but I know nothing about making a film. I am delighted at the prospect of learning to use a new medium and grateful that Collab/Sundance has made the process of dipping one's foot in the water so easy a grandma with complex PTSD can do it! So, here goes...)
I have been a helper of humankind since I can remember. I have worked almost exclusively in the non-profit (i.e., volunteer) sector with a bit of (paid) social work thrown in. I tried to quit this addiction in my mid-forties when I began to burn out but after many unsuccessful attempts I decided it was 'just me' and threw myself back into the people-saving business. Imagine my sadness and surprise when I developed a whopping case of PTSD, complete with stigma and symptoms: intrusive memories of abuse, chronic insomnia, recurring nightmares, constant limbic arousal (fight, flight or freeze), emotional frickin' rollercoaster in shades of despair, unrational fears, dissociating (yes, truly spacing out) catastrophic thinking, etc.
I used to spend my time with people. After the onset of PTSD I was alone at home most days. I could do nothing for all the people I had vowed (in my heart) to help. I felt useless and aimless.
I began to do genealogy to pass the time. I found out I had some pretty fancy ancestors. History came alive for me when I could think,"This guy is my 12th great grandfather!". I also discovered that I am distantly related to almost all of my close friends and of all people, my husband (13th cousins, once removed).
To be honest, I spent days at a time in a half-dream state, filling my world with thoughts of my ancestors. I was so lonely that I interacted with these characters like they were my family. And they were...they just happened to be deceased.
I did have some social connections that kept me sane. Some of my friends became interested in an idea I was developing for a show. We would get together, drink lots of Dutch Bros coffee and create scenes that were hilarious but managed to convey our message: that there is a hidden world of abuse that traps people and keeps them tied up on the inside while they feel compelled to present a successful, happy facade to friends, family and co-workers; that each person in this world has a "naturally valuable state" that the effects of abuse can mask and even annihilate; that a person can be 'screaming' for help and no one will even hear them, much less come to their aid.
The main character in my story is an illegitimate daughter of an undisclosed (for now) royal personage. She is adopted by a family who reside in the west coast state of Oregon (secondary meaning of 'naturally valuable state') The issue of genetics vs. environment in the development of 'self' is manifest in her life as she is a true ugly duckling, never fitting in completely with her crowd but never knowing why. She is feisty, getting into trouble while trying to protect and heal the un-help-able. She struggles with mental health issues and the idea of being adopted, when she finds this out. Mostly, she want to know who she is, just like me.
Some of my friends are developing characters also. Cousin James has an idea for a flamboyant book-seller who travels the world in search of rare volumes but scurries back to 'hometown' to bring restraint and common sense to the main character. He obviously has his own foibles...kind of a right-hand man and a partner in crime.
I see this story as a raucous comedy, falling somewhere between a mock-u-mentory and a sit-com. Goofy but intellectual humor, raw story with ALL voices being heard, A bit of British- style humor (hint hint). Slightly unlikely plot line becomes absurd comedy. Using farce to diffuse explosive topics.
Thank you for reading my whole spiel, a most heartfelt spiel. I am not alone. I personally know several people whose lives have been derailed by hidden abuse. My own handicap keeps me a prisoner in my 'safety zone'. This is the only way I can help them. My hands are shaking as I hit the send button. Bless you, whoever reads this and listens to my story.
* I would like to thank my husband Rod for his unconditional love, cousin James for memories of better times and Sherry the Great for shrinking my brain so well. Also, gratitude to Dr. Richard Schwartz, PhD, for his beautiful handling of the idea of the 'naturally valuable state' which has inspired my working title.
* Some aspects of this presentation are for mature audiences, though not explicit.
* Please note that permission to use copyrighted song has been applied for and is pending.