Being Curious, Being Open

It has been a very, very long time since I listened to some of these songs.  I can even remember some of the times I played these. Right now I am listening to Second Suite in F by Holst, which has four movements: “March,” “Song Without Words,” “Song of the Blacksmith,” and then “Fantasia on the Dargason.” I think I played this in an honors band that I was in with what would then become my college. It is a very odd feeling, I can literally feel parts of me falling away to dive back into the music. I can feel. These were some of the only times I let myself feel when I was a teenager.


You can’t just play notes on a page, well I mean you can… but then half of the point is gone. How you play something, the emotions you push through while playing, that’s what gives music life. That is what gives it meaning. I cannot play the Ticheli arrangement of Amazing Grace without wanting to cry, because of the emotion and softness I have to push into my notes. This is why I could never play trumpet for concert band, I was not able to do that. I could not, no matter how I tried, create the same kinds of emotion that were needed that I could do with a flute. Soft, delicate, dainty… words that are never used to describe me as a person. But the sounds I could make, that’s what they were. It was an alter ego of me, high above the rest where I was allowed to feel. I could hide it, because I was just playing music right? There was nothing there, I wasn’t spilling every “bad” emotion I was having into what I was playing.


People wondered why I was always spending as much time as I could down in the band room during high school. Well, it’s a pretty simple thing… I was learning how to live. I was learning to live without inflicting so much pain on myself because finally, I had a different release valve. Did it always work? No. It was not a miracle cure. It did however, lay some of the groundwork for what college did for me afterward. I did a bit of music in college, but I could no longer connect on the same level as I did before.


Listening to these songs I played before, most of which were played during high school and a couple were from college, I am able to calm down the beast that is my inner teenager. He remembers this. He remembers how to move his fingers and manage his breath for longer runs. He settles. He allows himself to immerse himself within the music that he is hearing once again. I have not been able to calm my inner teenager like this before. Which on one hand, I am very thankful I am getting him to settle but I’m also worried that it could be a calm before the storm.


I cannot remember where I played it, but I do remember playing “A Childhood Hymn” which is based on ‘Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,’ a song my one grandmother used to sing with me all the time. She really wanted me to be a good little church girl, or at least one who knew her form of religion. Oddly though, she’s one of the only people who doesn’t seem to really give a damn about who I married or how I present for the most part. Hearing that piece again makes me feel so small inside.


“American Civil War Fantasy” was a district band piece, I remember that much. I think it was Junior year because it was the same year we did Prairie Dances I believe. It was such a fun piece that let me combine my music with a historical period I liked quite a bit. I remember the energy from this piece, especially when the percussion section got to beat the living shit out of everything they had back there in an effort to show the battles.  Directly after that, it becomes soft and sad as it then rolls into reconstruction. This was a piece that certainly made you feel like you were a part of something much bigger than you could ever imagine. Starting from the beginning, you roll through the tension, the build up of armies and the breaking of the Union, continuing into actual battles, the death and destruction but ending in a time of rebuilding of one Union. It is very, very odd for me to listen to this piece again. I think they had the flutes audition with part of this piece, because there was a lovely flute part within it.


I played a couple Percy Grainger pieces in high school but one of the ones I remember the most is three movements from his Lincolnshire Posy. That was junior year, second half of it because I remember the band director we had for it. I remember watching his hands as he directed, especially the second movement “Horkstow Grange” which is slow and sweet. It was full of little spots you needed to watch carefully for so that it was just one continuous piece of music. As it rolls into the third movement, which is actually the sixth movement of the full piece, “The Lost Lady Found” I can see his eyes bounce with his hands.  This man had been a director for years upon years, and he fully embodied any and all music he did. Hell, he still does. I’ve played with him a couple times since then and he helped keep me on an even keel that second half of my junior year.


I wonder if I can open up my curiosity by settling back into that almost tranquil state I could enter. I don’t know if I remember how to let go in that manner. It took so much time, so much trust. Even though there was trust, there was fear. I could completely let go when basically alone in practice rooms. Mind you, that could go either way, good or bad. I had some of my biggest bursts of anger locked away in a practice room. Almost soundproof walls were a good way to hide the sounds of me punishing myself. I had four directors between seventh grade and senior year. Only two of them had noticed what I was doing and one of them was the old man who had seen it all. He was safe and so was the guy that he was replacing til the end of the year. They were safe, the other two never noticed. I could still play out my emotions, but I kept my pain more in check away from others. I had a lot of bruised knuckles senior year.


While in my current state, I do have those underlying urges and the want to sabotage myself. However, I think this is the calmest I have ever been with my teenager running the show. He is running on a lot of anger and bitterness, but once you dive under that there is an odd calm. There is this stillness that I have not felt in a very, very long time. It doesn’t stop my want to run away from everything, but it creates a still sense of being.
I might be able to stay curious. I’m unsure, but I might be able to do this part.


The Way In?

Some days I leave therapy and I have no idea what the hell just happened, which usually causes me to feel worse.  It doesn’t happen very often, because we’re usually pretty good at closing things up enough to not cause me to fall apart. When it does happen, it really sucks. This whole week has just felt off already and then it turned into this. And it’s snowing.


It’s frustrating because it’s like my little kid is locked in a closet, the adult is too tired to care, and the teen is taking advantage of the other two out of the picture. It’s usually not a good idea for the teen to have any sort of control, because he likes to make a right royal mess of things.


We have boiled down a lot of my issues into a simple thing, “Do I Matter?” and if you let me answer that question, I always answer “No.” This is something that happened before I was with my spouse, before college, before teenage me… this is something that is very old and very deep. The earliest I can remember is 4 or 5, and nothing I can remember is really good. Something deep in me has always tried to matter to the adults in my life, which meant I tried to make them happy. I thought that if I could make them happy, then they would be happy, and then I would matter and things would be okay. I tried my best to be more of a mini adult because that seemed to please them. Joking that I’m 4 going on 30 was normal when I was little and it seemed like that pleased them. If I could continue this, they might still be happy and then I matter to them.


The old white dude made a comment yesterday that I have worked so hard and for so long to try and matter to the adults in my life. I have.  I didn’t know any other way to survive. I just continued to try and be the best, try and make everyone happy… but it didn’t matter in the end because it was never good enough. I never understood why I wasn’t good enough.


I’m trying my best right now to remain Curious and Open, which are two parts of my homework. I’m also trying to do this “I matter because…” exercise that I am calling bullshit at the moment. That’s because teenage me says it’s dumb and he doesn’t want to do it. A lot of my anger lives within that part of me, and the saying that music can calm the savage beast proves accurate here. I excelled, the best I could, in band as a teenager. It was the one place during that time where I felt like I could actually be someone and be part of something bigger than I was.  


It’s interesting, I am not in an okay place as an adult. I am also not in an okay place as a child. However, the teenager in me, while he is making a mess of things, if I feed him what kept him calm then he relaxes just enough. He can breathe, he can grow. He can feel like he matters.


When I played music, I fell into it with my entire being. It allowed me to feel and express, without ever having to talk about what I felt or what I wanted to express. I loved doing marching band and I love being a trumpet player for that, but honestly that worked as a front like everything else. It was harder to hide that when I would do concert band, because there I played flute. My trumpet playing has never been very suited to concert band, it is very hard for me to be smooth and sweet with brass. With flute, it just came easily. It’s what I learned to start with. I had been playing it for 3 or so years when I learned trumpet so I could march trumpet and not flute. It was always fun when we would be working on marching music AND starting concert band, because I would be running into different sections.


So I am sitting here this morning, working on a few things and listening to different things I played in high school concert band. Be it with my band, our county band festival, or the bigger district festivals I was in.  Each one means something different to me and it’s odd how you can be transported back in time to what was going on.
Maybe that’s the way in.

And I Thought I Was So Smart

Building off something I said yesterday, I know what my inner child really needs.  He needs an adult who is safe. He needs an adult who cares about him. He wants to be honest and just talk and feel as though he is being heard completely. He’s absolutely terrified of this need. I am honestly scared that I am admitting to myself and even a friend that this is what I need. I have never wanted to admit that I need that sort of safety and comfort.  It scares me.


It’s a different kind of adult, a different kind of safety and comfort than what I can get from my spouse. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something on a different level. It’s something my inner child wants, well wants is not the right word choice… craves. Yea, craves is actually a better descriptor.  The fact that I know that, scares me. I never allowed myself to feel this need before. It makes me feel weak in some ways, which confuses me. Emotions made me weak, so if I admit now that I have them and I need to acknowledge them, it’s like losing all that strength I built up for years. That scares me too.


I was talking to a friend and I admitted to them that I knew I needed that kind of conversation. They told me to go ahead and ask for it, arrange it and get what I need. Instantly my brain when into all the different excuses why that isn’t a possibility. The child in me doesn’t feel like he matters. Because the people I would ask could be too busy, find me annoying/a bother, or just don’t want to deal with me. I fear that I would take away from time that is their own, I could take away from other people that need them way more than I do. I don’t feel like I deserve that sort of attention and it comes out that I don’t believe I deserve special attention. To me, even just basic conversations full of truth are special attention and I don’t deserve that. I honestly believe that I’m not special, I don’t matter. When I let my little one run amok in my head, this is where I end up. I come to the conclusion that I am not deserving of any attention.


It always seemed safer and more secure for me to withdraw and run away. To just stay where I was. Even if it was or is more painful for me to do that, it gave some sense of safety because I knew what to expect. I knew what would happen if I remained the way I did, I knew how to tolerate the rest. As long as I had certainty, which I did if I stayed as I was, I could feel safe in some messed up way.  Changing things up, causes uncertainty, which then throws me for a loop.  The unknown is scary, it makes me act out in various ways and it causes me to exert a lot of energy into control. I have to control the situation or I feel so very unsafe.


Nothing will ever change unless I feel safe. I have to allow myself to feel safe with those I trust. That’s hard. On one hand I want to do it, on the other I know how to exist in the world I created.


I know there are people that care about me. I know there are people who accept me as I am without any problem. They just accept me. I don’t have to explain myself to them, they just accept me as I am. I don’t know how to let them in so they could help me. I can’t do all of this on my own and it’s so hard for me to trust people with this sort of thing. I feel like I’m hanging onto these damned metaphoric monkey bars with one hand and I’m looking for the net under me. I think I can see the net, but I’m afraid it’s a figment of my imagination.


When I think I’m doing okay and like I could reach out, the little kid in me comes screaming to the front that it’s not safe. I get so frustrated with myself because I feel like I’m going round and round in circles. Once I find myself in the cycle of that, I can’t reach out because I fear if I reach out my hand will just get smacked because it’s something I should be able to deal with and take care of on my own.  I end up thinking that nothing will matter because I am 27, I should be able to take care of myself and I shouldn’t be falling back into the habits I am. I’m struggling. I’m struggling harder than I have in a little while.  I have to keep making sure that I’m not diving head first into habits I would rather not see again.


I’ll do whatever it takes and I’m making a million mistakes, but I am trying oh so hard to make the world safe and sound for me and perhaps in turn for those that follow. I am bleeding and fighting, just trying to make the world right for the little one in me who is afraid of everything.

Honesty isn’t Easy

Honesty. I am so very, very bad at being honest and open with people. I learned way too early that for me being honest was not going to amount to anything good at all. It was just going to hurt me in the end. However, I am trying something different. It hurts like hell too.


I am trying to be open and honest, not just with my thoughts but also with my emotions. I really do not enjoy that second half. I have worked for years to perfect my defenses against true emotion. I didn’t want to feel the things I felt, so I ignored them and didn’t give them the attention they probably deserved. I did not want them to be real, so I wouldn’t let them be real. The adults around me growing up were telling me that I couldn’t actually be feeling what I did, so I let that in and essentially let them gaslight me early.  Once that took hold, it just kept going throughout the rest of my childhood and adolescence.  It has a mind of it’s own at this point.


I don’t like to show the emotions that are real, they are the ones I keep shoving below the surface.  There is a part of me that disassociates when it comes to things that are real and true. I don’t want to see them, I don’t want to feel them. I put them in boxes and try to continue on without them. It’s taken a lot of energy out of me. When those boxes open? That’s a whole ugly mess. One that I’m working on cleaning up bit by bit now.


I have a fear of being true. I learned how to hide what I knew to be true, because it wasn’t allowed. It was not something that was going to be accepted so I made it go away.  The reactions of those around me to things that were similar to my truth made me feel like there was something wrong with me, something that was making them love me less. No matter what I was doing, it never felt like enough to please them. Which, those feelings led me down the rabbit hole I’m trying to dig my way out of right now. It’s really not easy. Especially when I am afraid that being honest, to myself and to others, is going to cause me to lose everything in the end.


My mind is not a pretty place. It’s boxed up and all my life, I’ve just been making sure there is enough tape on the boxes. I don’t want things to get out, because I’m afraid of how they will be taken. Even when people don’t follow the pattern I am used to and they show me over and over that they care about me… I’m just feeling like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m trying my hardest to, for lack of better terms, grow up. Intellectually, I’m pretty fine.. But damnit I am so screwed up emotionally. I think in very childlike terms because I never had an ability for them to grow with my physical body.  I forced myself to be more adult before I should have. It was the easiest way to deal with the life around me. If I removed emotion and just pressed on, they left me alone. Any time I did express emotion that those around me didn’t agree with, I wasn’t allowed to express it. Here I am at 27, still terrified to express how I really feel.


I know what I need right now. I need to be honest with someone I trust. Someone I care about. Someone who I know will not run if I breakdown and cry. There are very few people who I can trust when I’m a bundle of emotion, and I do trust them implicitly. However, while the adult in me knows I need this, the child in me is making as many excuses as he can. The child is afraid. He is terrified that he isn’t worth it and he is not special. Why would these people want to take any time at all when they have such busy lives? So I’m fighting with the little kid and the adult in my head. I’m not sure who is going to win right now, I don’t know if I want to know.
…This honesty and emotion stuff is hard

Birthdays and People

This was not what I was planning on posting, but this has been bothering me for two days now.


So yesterday was my birthday. Yea, woo, birthday. I have never really enjoyed my birthday and I have my own reasons on that.


I have spent almost all of my life doing what my family of origin wanted. I just fell into line and kept going. They do still have a pretty big control on my head, but that’s something I’m working on. Since I have never gotten to do what I wanted and have my wishes respected on my birthday, I was planning on this year being the first. I did want to feel special in my own right, but I also wanted people to respect my wishes.


… and since this has been bothering me for two days now, a group of people didn’t do that. I got wind that my office was going to tack my birthday onto another thing because the one person was  not being subtle in trying to find out what kind of cupcakes I like. I asked more than once for them to not do a damned thing, I didn’t want it to be tacked on and I just didn’t want anything. I also mentioned that I don’t like chocolate cupcakes. I will eat them if I have to, but if it’s a choice for me.. I’m not choosing a chocolate based cupcake.


They did it anyway.


They tried to sing and I literally walked out of the room. They made me come back because it “wasn’t fair” for me to make people wait. I wouldn’t blow out the candle, because I am super pissed at this point, so I put it out with my fingers. The cupcakes they got me? Mainly chocolate. Well, I’m not eating them.


I was told I had to open my card and my ‘gift’. The card, I would have loved to get this card from any of my queer friends, because it’s a great card. It’s got sheep on the front and one of them is rainbow and glitter. Seriously, it’s a sweet card. However, coming from them? It felt like they found a queer card and because I’m the token, they got it for me. It just… It didn’t feel right on so many levels.


The gift? Sour Patch Kids. Now, I do love sour patch kids… but I have a feeling that is what I got because, nobody at my office currently really knows what I like. Sad thing? I can give examples of differing things that others like. Hell, I was told once what kind of liquor someone really likes and I still remember it. I can remember their usual lunch orders from various places in town.  What made me even more upset was when I was handed my gift and card, it was by the one person who I told more than once I didn’t want anything. While she’s handing me this bag, she is just smirking like she’s so wonderful and perfect.


I said again I really didn’t want them to do anything and I was told I wasn’t allowed to ignore my birthday when nobody else gets to. They kept thinking I didn’t like my birthday for different reasons such as getting older. I was not about to tell them that no, I didn’t want this because I wanted to be respected about my birthday for a change.  I felt guilted and manipulated into doing things I didn’t want to do, which sent my head straight back to when I was little. My homework for this week was to give my inner-self a birthday that he would really want. That pretty much clouded it because it took me straight back to being little and being forced to do all the things I didn’t want to do. That’s not a fun experience and a couple of my friends got the full force of that because all I could do was text them or I was going to cry in anger at my desk.


This seems petty and I totally acknowledge that. It is also a very childlike way of thinking and I also know that. While it is petty and childish in some ways, the emotions I currently feel about it are also very real. I’m actually letting myself feel what is actually there. Some of my anger is an attempt to hide what is under the surface which is a deep sense of hurt, upset, and a very primal sadness. It makes me feel like I can never do or be what I want, because everyone else has these things I “need” to do.


I did spend my actual birthday doing things I wanted. I played Pokemon Go while my spouse did a little bit of work. I ate a banging breakfast for lunch, seriously.. So good. I went to a local winery and just enjoyed the drive with my spouse. I just enjoyed myself. Even better? Nobody from my family of origin talked to me or called me or told me happy birthday in any way. Some people would be upset by that, but I’m oddly not. My chosen family told me happy birthday.
I am hoping next year I can do all the things I want for my birthday and not having to worry that someone isn’t going to respect my wishes.  I just want to be myself and have people respect that. It’s small things.

The Adults I Needed, The Adult I Need to Be

I have been thinking a bit on the last few days about the adult I needed as a kid. Those thoughts are what is currently helping to give me a bit of a swing forward. What kind of adults did I wish were around me when I was younger? It also makes me ask what kind of adult could I be today if I had those people then.


It’s frustrating to grow up like I did and have basically rework parts of my brain to settle into a better headspace. Then I look and I really realize I need to become that adult I wanted, because kids like me are not going away.


So what did I need? I needed open-minded, supportive people. I needed an adult to actually see the multitude of things I was hiding. I wanted to be noticed for more than grades and numbers. I wanted to be seen. It seems odd to say those things now, because some people scoff and tell me that of course I was seen, but those people never saw me living in my truth. Hell, I still don’t know what this truth is most days. It’s one of the many things I have been trying to figure out.


I wanted, no I needed, someone who would really listen to me and ask what was going on. Not ask in a way that would receive a flippant answer. I wanted to know there was an adult who wasn’t about to throw a hammer of judgement on me and who would actually hear what I was saying and those things I wasn’t able to vocalize yet.


Teenage me learned a little bit about these kinds of adults, but they were still too close, too connected to the possibility of turning on me and word reaching my family of origin. When I would finally feel comfortable, something would happen and I would backtrack as fast as I could. That has been my life for years. Get close, get scared, run away and block them out.


Then college came. The first year was mainly sort of figuring out what to do with this bit of independence, but still knowing I was connected to what most people consider home. I lived on campus the second year, because I allowed my mother to manipulate me into living at home for my freshman year. I suddenly exploded into myself and I remember finally letting people in. Some people found a crack in my walls and slipped right in before I realized it. There was this thing about taking certain advisees out to lunch or something so they didn’t think their advisors forgot all about them. So my one takes me out and we are just talking. Mind you, my queer ass was living as far as possible in the closet even though I was even engaged at this point to my now spouse. This lunch happened when I was a sophomore and I can still remember almost all of it. I remember what table we were at and what lunch hub we had walked to on campus for it. What I remember most is my advisor, the wonderful person they are, calling me out a bit on my queerness. I think they made the comment of me being gay, which at the time worked as a descriptor, and I remember feeling my insides freeze. This was it in my mind because here was an adult who I respected who found out what I was still trying to hide. I was afraid. I was terrified. I was sitting there trying to come up with some form of answer. Then I looked at their face. It wasn’t angry or disgusted like all my nightmares told me. Instead I found a softness and a caring. So, the first adult in my life that I admitted it to was my advisor. I finally found a safety net that let me bounce away from my fears.  


That feeling of safety is something I apparently craved and never realized I did. The departments I ended up in, were way more than just a bunch of students working toward degrees. It really did become family. I took a photo at one point, after graduation, of our senior photo from the one department and I posted it with the quote from Harry Potter when Professor McGonagall says “Welcome to Hogwarts. The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common room.” This quote embodied a lot of my years at college and I am going to be forever thankful for it because without them, I don’t know where I would be.


I needed adults like those I found around me, both my peers and those professors and adults who were somewhat responsible for making sure we didn’t walk out in traffic, swan dive from the buildings or ignore when we were sick and should be in bed. I wasn’t used to people looking out for me, even if was just to make sure I went to bed when I had a fever instead of drugging myself and going to class anyway.


The adults I needed as a kid and a teenager were ones who were kind and would listen. I needed people who wouldn’t instantly judge me and make me feel bad about myself. I needed someone to encourage me to find myself rather than being who I was told I was to be. I needed to feel like caring and love [because we all know there are about 50 different forms of that] were not dependant on if they were happy with me because I was being what they wanted. I needed to know that I could be myself and still be loved.


I spent too many years wondering what was wrong with me. I spent too long wondering what did I do that made me so unwanted. I thought that if I was everything that everyone around me wanted, then I would be safe and I would be loved.  My very childlike thinking in that regard has followed me into my adulthood and is still causing me problems. I get afraid that I will disappoint or be a failure to those I care about, so I run away before that can happen. It’s hard to try and rework that part of my brain, but I keep telling myself… If I do this, I can be who I needed then. If I become who I needed, I can help others like me. I can show people there is another option.


With all of that being said, I have spent a lot of time being honest in ways I wish I wasn’t this past week. Be it when I’m really drunk or when I’ve had a trying day that it’s either I’m honest or I’m going to cry everywhere. I’ve sent a few messages or talked face to face with people and in my head working on other messages/emails. I’m trying to keep myself from running away when my inner self just wants to bolt. I want to grow, not run.


So I’ve also been spending most of my time listening to ‘Something Just Like This’ by The Chainsmokers with Coldplay.

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
The testaments they told
The moon and its eclipse
And Superman unrolls
A suit before he lifts
But I’m not the kind of person that it fits

She said, where d’you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can miss