Always Waiting for Someone to Ask Me to Sing
2015 has been a year of intentions & reflections. As it comes to a close, I am finally ready to share my performance at This Is My Brave (TIMB). I want to say... There are words I avoided, in telling my story - because in living my story, I saw the light leave people's faces when I spoke of sad, hopeless thoughts. I wonder if the message manages to shine through.
BEFORE I found TIMB, I made a commitment to take my music beyond bars & music venues which depend on alcohol sales for success... I vowed to find an audience of listeners looking to be heard & heal.
To seal my search, I prayed & promised to quit drinking for all of 2015... Within weeks I read Jennifer Marshall's Bipolar Mom Life blog (I Spent Last Christmas in a Mental Hospital). I went on to read about how she formed a nonprofit for storytellers to share their experiences living with or loving others with mental illness, and immediately I realized my prayers for a way to reach others like myself had been answered.
When I auditioned, I played three songs for them to choose from: "Stronger", "Collide", & "Human Race". Although I preferred "Stronger", they asked me to sing "Human Race", telling me, "Everyone can relate..."
I wanted to shout back, I don't want people to relate to my pain, I want people to relate to my hope! But alas the words would not come... I allowed my anxiety to grow over the weeks leading up to the show, and days before our dress rehearsal, I realized my immune system had become compromised. The weather was warm enough that inhaling large visible tufts of pollen was unavoidable in my un-air-conditioned apartment. The congestion would not clear enough to let me hit all the notes.
By the time the morning of the show arrived, I made up my mind, "I know you're busy, Jennifer. But I just can't sing 'Human Race'- I have another song, and I will explain myself to the audience." Desperately wanting to explain further, You haven't met her yet, but another version of myself will perform... She will know what to say, how to say it... and even if I don't tell you this in advance, she WILL sing the song she wants- the song she NEEDS to be heard.
My desperation was unnecessary. Jennifer agreed and gave me her trust... THIS was the product:
Now, all these months later... I listen- and I wish I could change some word choices...
I did not say, I took "a lot of pills... when I was 22... to commit suicide, unsuccessfully.
I just wanted to leave, wanted to check out- and cease to exist in this corporeal form.
Fortunately, I failed... Unfortunately, when you can't even have any control over that... Over MY life and whether it ends or continues ...You don't feel like you have control over anything."
I wish I had said speech pathology was an impressive line on my resume- as it certainly never made me "popular". However, this career choice quickly became less about the prestige and more about gaining some sense of control. It was important to finish my degree and certifications- because I was half way through my studies when my suicide attempt failed. It offered a purpose when I desperately needed a reason to continue striving, studying... a reason to breathe.
Throughout several years following my suicide attempt, I seriously questioned whether I hadn't in fact died... and now resided in my own personal Hell. As I began to take jobs, giving therapy in a hospital, nursing homes, and early intervention; I was not surprised to be surrounded by suffering and discomfort. This had become my normal. What I could not overcome was my all-consuming hope to help more people than I could by treating one patient at a time in less than optimal conditions... Being told how to give therapy by insurance companies motivated by money rather than compassion... & having my self-expressive outlets, again and again denied.
I prayed... & when the answers arrived, my life once again turned upside-down!
In one night, five years ago (two years before my diagnosis), I met a circle of friends who inspired me to begin three new practices; Reiki, meditation, and music.
At the moment I said it, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) felt "rare". All the books say it only affects 1-2% of the general population. I said it because I felt separated from my cast members with bipolar and postpartum depression... But in retrospect, my condition is more misunderstood than it is "rare".
The most accurate description is "emotional hemophilia".
Psychological research states BPD has a high correlation to childhood trauma. And as the only childhood trauma I experienced was a vehicular accident which left me unable to walk for some months at the age of two and a half- I have learned to acknowledge, when I am reduced to a senseless screaming child (even now, 30 years later) -that this wounded inner child has remained very much intact... distrustful and hypersensitive.
I wasted a great deal of my time looking for acceptance outside myself
I meet many individuals hoping I am a diagnostic expert, assuming I should be able to recognize my symptoms in another person. I am not. I can not.
Others ask the common question, "Do you really believe BPD is the right diagnosis?"
I do because my master's degree gave me the knowledge of neuroscience I needed to read the research.... because the (DBT) therapy techniques designed by a female psychologist, diagnosed with BPD herself, work! I believe it- because I am healthier than I have ever been in my first 30 years, undiagnosed.
...the truth is- I wasted a great deal of time looking for acceptance outside of myself- a phenomena I hear is all too common among completely average and unremarkable individuals who give their mental health no time or attention whatsoever. For this reason alone, I could say I am grateful for this unique life I have the privilege of living.
Rather than lingering in the past, BPD has given me the ability to see outside myself, recognize my miraculous ability to change, and prepare for a present and future in which my words and songs will be able to help many more individuals than I will ever have time to meet.
If I am blessed enough to someday no longer feel I fit the criteria, I will gladly big BPD goodbye. Thank it for serving its purpose and let it go-
As 2016 approaches, I sit writing new intentions... Work I wish to continue, practices I wish to strengthen, and collaborations I hope to nurture. This is just the first of many blog entries I will share with the world, keeping faith that they will find whomever needs to hear them.
It will be unlike my first blog, which I am slightly embarrassed to share now... But understand that those feelings were once real to me too. Understand I keep those thoughts public for anyone who wants to understand where I was.
I feel freedom, sharing my life- transparent for everyone to see -because I have nothing to hide. As an artist, as a Reiki master, as a human being; I have promised myself to live every day striving for alignment of intentions and actions, thoughts and feelings, mind and heart... and I accept responsibility for my choices.
I have learned -even as I constantly catch myself trying- I cannot save anyone but myself. However, in living the fullest life I can, transparently for the world to access at will, perhaps others will be able to help themselves.
Thank you for reading and listening ^^