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GH’s Maurice Benard & Aida Rodriguez Talk About Transmuting Pain Into Laughter

The comedian shared how she finally gave voice to dark emotions and turned them around.

maurice benard and aida rodriguez on state of mindMaurice Benard interviews Aida Rodriguez this week.

General Hospital’s Maurice Benard welcomed actress, producer, writer, podcaster, and stand-up comedian Aida [pronounced I-aida] Rodriguez to his YouTube video podcast, State Of Mind. The two covered a lot of ground dealing with many subjects that she featured in her HBO Max Special, Fighting Words. From being kidnapped twice, being abused, swallowing her emotions leading to an eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, and meeting her biological dad for the first time just recently, Rodriquez got real with Benard.

Aida Rodriguez: Swallowing Pain Leads To Dark Thoughts

*Trigger Warning: Discussion includes sexual abuse and suicidal ideation.

After bonding over their Latino upbringing, the two got deep early on as Rodriguez shared how she found her way both in and out of the darkness of depression. “A lot of people who have been sexually abused develop eating disorders. They take it out on their bodies because they feel certain levels of guilt or whatever.” 

The actress-turned-comedian described what led up to her diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. “I never said out loud that I had been abused because I never wanted my mother to feel like she had failed, so I just kept it to myself because my mom was so young, and I took on this thing of protecting her even as a little kid.” She explained her reasoning, “I never wanted my mom to feel like she didn’t do a good job because all she had was her kids.

“Mental health was something that was ignored,” Rodriguez continued, sharing why it wasn’t talked about in the Latino culture. “There was never a spectrum. It was like you were either crazy or you are not. A crazy person is someone who is not functioning, someone that you see doing flips on the street.

“I struggled with a lot of suicidal thoughts and ideation,” she confided. Holding onto the pain and the emotions took their toll on her as a young mother. “I drove to the top of a cliff with my kids. I didn’t know how to cope with what was happening to me emotionally. And all that I had learned throughout my life about how to cope with issues was either through violence or just things that didn’t resonate with me. I am not, naturally, a violent person.

“I just swallowed it all up,” Rodriguez stated. “I just kept going through life wondering why some days I didn’t want to get out of bed and other days I just wanted to tear somebody’s head off. Because I wasn’t dealing with what was happening to me. It didn’t have a name.”

She did the only thing that she could, which was run from the overwhelming dark thoughts. “I moved far away as soon as I could, and I moved to California, 3,000 miles away, because I feel if I would have stayed at home in Miami, surrounded by my family and the ills of the reality of what I grew up in that, I probably wouldn’t be here. I would have probably taken my life.” 

Transmuting Pain Into Healing

Finding the funny in her pain started with doing a favor for a friend. “I was doing a roast for a friend for her birthday party, and Chris Spencer was there, and he was like, ‘You are a stand-up. Just try it. You don’t have to stay but try it.’ I tried it, and I never stopped.

“I realized that I needed to be a stand-up because I never had a voice.” It unlocked all the emotions that she held in. “My voice had always been stripped. I had always been the caretaker. I have always been a person of service. I had always taken care of somebody else, making sure everybody else was okay. I was the oldest child. My mother has benefited greatly from me being a parent to her.”

Rodriguez had her A-ha moment, and there was no turning back. “Stand-up was the place where I got to stand up alone. I didn’t have to share my room with anybody. I never had my own room up until I did stand-up. It just liberated me and gave me a voice and face that abuse. And being able to deal with the things in my life in a comical way was liberating.”

Aida Rodriguez: Getting To Know Her

GH’s Benard (Sonny Corinthos), in his typical low-key fashion, opened up about things he had never shared before and made Rodriguez feel comfortable enough to share her own story. The producer/comedian spoke of her upbringing, feeling alienated growing up due to being kidnapped by her mother, her relationship with her grandmother and uncle, suffering through the family’s dysfunction, meeting her biological father for the first time, and how the romantic ideal of how it would turn out played out against reality.

She talked about marrying and having children young, not being ready, her subsequent divorce, facing parenthood alone, and trying to make her way in the world. Fans may not know much about her going into the interview but are guaranteed to want to know more by the time the State Of Mind winds down. The comedian even teases a memoir will debut in September of 2023. Check out the full episode here.

To learn more about this brave and funny lady, follow Aida Rodriguez on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Follow Maurice Benard on TwitterInstagram, and TikTok. To follow State Of Mind and subscribe, go to YouTubeInstagram, and Twitter.

If you know someone considering suicide or if you need to talk, contact NIMH or call National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

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