When I was young, I was naturally enthusiastic, outgoing and a leader. I was so sure of myself, or at least I remember being decidedly so. But the dark side, the place from where this perceived sorrow lies, is this other memory. A close cousin to the sunny, pumpkin hugging, smiling, laughing and playfully yelling heart, is one who was shamed, called "bossy", teased (by both peers and adults) for being who felt natural to me.
Underneath this calling I’ve never been able to ignore or suppress, is also a deep shame and sense of wrongness for being myself. I’ve been digging into the soil of my, what feels like “not enough”-ness, for some time. This morning, I did a sort of mental journal entry, while lying on a hotel couch, to avoid the sunlight creeping through the bedroom curtain. I came to this sense: Who I Am is not bad or wrong, but, my sense memory tells me that is what I’ve learned and reinforced. Not by everyone of course, but by enough (influential-to-me people) that I have intrinsic confusion about who I will always be, and if that’s actually “OK”.
Of course, as a grown ass woman, I believe that being who I am, naturally, and with love, is amazing. But, there is a curly haired, little girl in there that still apologizes for being loud, boisterous, and “too much” and pays for it by taking over the flagellation herself, every time she lets go of control and has a good time.
It is likely a reason I was drawn to performing. A place where being “big” (grand gestures, projecting your voice and energy) is part of the job. It’s not only necessary, but revered. A place it was safe to be my whole self, in the shelter of a character, or the story of a song. I’ve mused for a bit on the knowledge that singing and humming switch the body into parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode. It chills you out. It makes me laugh, because I think with performance art, people tend to use language like: “talent”, “meant to be on stage”, “born for this”. Maybe I agree, sort of, with the last one. I identify as always having been anxious, high strung, operated in a fight or flight mode and always singing (dancing, performing). Now, I think it’s just something I was drawn to as a method of self preservation, and doing it out of comfort (and love of it) made me proficient at it. So I guess, in that way, I was kind of born into it, rather than for it.
I sometimes wake up sad and second guessing myself when I've have a good time and let go, let loose. I think it’s rooted so far back, in childhood. I'm beginning to understand “Oh... my thing is that I think and feel like everyone is judging me all the time.” It is my default assumption to looks, suggestions, notes, whispers, jokes, and the root of my defensiveness. (It also appears to be a very self-centered assumption, but I assure you it’s a mechanism of self preservation and not narcissism.) SEE! I'M ALREADY ASSUMING YOU'RE JUDGING ME AND THEREFORE EXPLAINING MYSELF.
It’s likely a reason why I try to maintain control of people’s perception of me, by curating. I hear and remember everything, so I can curate. I curate my behavior, language, image, to be “right and good.” (at which point I will be judged, but found right and good, and therefore will have no need to prove that I am.) It is an exhausting charade.
This self is clearly so strong I cannot suppress it.
I am trying to wade through it, to make sense of it, now with a fully formed (🤞) adult brain, and release the nonsense.