Marilyn Monroe was an actress who the camera loved when photographers took shots of her. She had this quality of appearing vulnerable, child-like, femme fatale, and a siren when she appeared on the silver screen, or was photographed. She had an incandescant beauty that one could find in an eighteenth century painting. She was also a very complex, and intelligent woman who loved to read and write poetry. Reading her poetry from Fragments by Marilyn Monroe was a lot like meeting a kindred spirit.
Excerpts of Marilyn’s Poems
Fear of giving me the lines new
maybe won’t be able to learn them
maybe I’ll make mistakes
people will either think I’m no good or
laugh or belittle me or think I can’t act.
Women look stern and critical-
unfriendly and cold in general
afraid director won’t think I’m any good.
remembering when I couldn’t do a god
then trying to build myself up with the
fact that I have done things right that
were even good and have had moments
that were excellent but the bad is heavier
to carry around and feel have no confidence
The anxiety that Marilyn expresses here is something that I can relate to personally. When I was working as a teacher my efforts at times felt like they were never good enough. Perfectionism is a negative thinking pattern that often comes along with anxiety. This is something when you start to work on does begin to bring you a sense of peace. When I left the teaching profession, I had experienced a lot of negative reinforcement either from lack of employment opportunies to even disrespectful treatment by colleagues. Two lessons that I have learned from my experiences are: that my value is not determined by how others treat me, and how you think about yourself has a very big impact on how you allow others to treat you.
feel what I feel
within myself-that is trying to
become aware of it
also what I feel in others
not being ashamed of my
feelings, thoughts-or ideas
realize the thing that
The innate feeling of shame or fear surrounding our thoughts, feelings and ideas is something that survivors wrangle with as they begin the journey to healing. Marilyn Monroe was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and there is some suggestion that as a young adult she was also sexually assaulted while staying at a rooming house. One of the first things that I had to learn as my healing began was to trust my feelings without judging them. I read in Marilyn’s poem of her courage to not be ashamed of her thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Knowing her life experiences I was inspired to read this.
I can and will help
myself and work on
things analytically no
matter how painful-if I
forget things (the unconscious
forget-I will only try to remember)
my body is my body
every part of it.
Marilyn began to study method acting at the Actor’s Studio in New York in the spring of 1955. Method acting requires the actor to undergo psychoanalysis, so they can use their life experiences to enrich their portrayal of a character. She was devoted to her craft, and worked very hard during her life to prepare herself to perform much more serious acting roles. Her desire was so strong to perfect her craft as an actor that she was willing to work very hard. Her devotion to her craft was one way that she was empowering herself.
I can draw parallel to my own life with how hard I have been devoting myself to therapy and spirituality, because recovery gives me my power back. I really could relate to the line: “my body is my body/ every part of it.” Survivors experience a disconnect between our body, mind and spirit as a result of the trauma that we have experienced. Healing is how we accept ourselves, and bring those pieces back to a sense of wholeness. It has taken me a long time to find those missing pieces. Now that they are here I am beginning the process of integrating them back together.
Marilyn Monroe was an astonishing, beautiful, sensitive and intelligent woman. It has been a pleasure getting to know her through reading Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe. All of the poems I have posted above and the facts about her life are from the book. It may actually become a part of my personal library as I find her to be a fascinating woman. It was a pleasure getting to know her through her writing.
(c) 2012 Amanda Wilson, poems excerpted from Fragments by Marilyn Monroe