Friday, July 26, 2019

Free Floating Fridays

This pen and ink drawing hangs in my bedroom where I see it every morning.

In between stuff like a corporate tax return and rehearsals and the book launch of a friend and social gatherings and working on SOS, the Support Our Seniors mandate we are putting together (fact checking is a job unto itself), I am trying to find time to work on my new card. And design a new afghan (sofa blanket) for a niece who's getting married.

It's all quite wonderful, I feel confident in the stage work and we are having our first cast party tonight so we get to know each other a little better. I try and pay attention to the spoon theory which I wrote about before. When I do, I find my life balances out a lot better. Exceeding my spoons makes me cranky and exhausted and well, useless to myself and others.

I wish I'd arrived at the stage sooner where I didn't give a rat's what anyone thought of me. What causes these insecurities do you think?

I remember being enormously self conscious starting at about 13. I was way taller than my parents and the comments of extended family would crush me. "Where did you get her?" "What are you feeding her?" "She'll be patting your heads soon!" And on. Then the breasts. Men would leer at me, a child, on the streets, so much so I would bind my breasts as these men frightened me in ways I couldn't articulate. I remember being singled out at rehearsal for a school play when I was 14 (I had a great voice and good articulation) when the director shouted at me in front of everyone "Stop walking around as if you're ashamed of your very existence!" My father said to me when I was about 16, with a heartbroken look on his face: "Your brains have been wasted on a girl."

Those words stick and damage and hurt and shame forever. I felt terribly lost, ugly, too intelligent, too introverted, too out of place, too everything.

I hit the age of 19 and suddenly I found the solution to all these insecurities. Alcohol. With a few drinks I could charm the pants off anyone, sing at the drop of a hat, pack up the guitar and throw down the self-consciousness, hang with intellectual friends, not be ashamed of all my reading, my questioning, my stage-work and not feel out of place anywhere.

Alcohol saved my life for about 10 years.

Then it slowly began to turn on me and for the next ten years it owned me, body and soul.

21 comments:

  1. I really can't answer the question as to what causes those insecurities. My personal teen age years were full of stress and violence but, did not lead to any insecurities, at least I think that they did not. I grew out of that phase and became a responsible person but, alcohol did play a very big role in my life till my late fifties when circumstances forced me to quit. I have not regretted that and have moved on. I am also very happy that that decision has effected many positive consequences in others' lives.

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    1. All these addictions are rooted in childhood I believe Ramana, I have no wish to change my past as absolutely all of it has made me who I am today. And like you has given me the gift of helping others equally afflicted as I pass on my own story.

      XO
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  2. I have often wished that parents especially would be more careful of the comments they make to and around children...those things never ever leave you. I'm sorry you had to turn to alcohol to numb the pain and give you courage and I'm so proud of you for rising above it all and for being able to speak out about your experiences.

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    1. Thank you Delores, my previous comment got lost somehow. Yes words linger on, the most condemning and abusive ones do, the good ones get lost in the shuffle. I find that so sad.

      And now and again they rise to live another day especially as we age, but I don't let them hurt me as much now. Only wounded people speak so horribly.

      XO
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  3. Alcohol is never the solution. I had a difficult childhood, too. My life is a lot better now, but I still have problems with certain individuals that cause me a lot of anguish.

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    1. Me too Gigi, I had a terrible time with a sibling recently. So painful and hurtful. He's one of those who thinks he doesn't need therapy or counselling and blunders on, not wishing to heal.

      XO
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  4. Who ever coined the phrase that sticks and stones will break my bones and words will never hurt me was an unmitigated liar. They frequently leave wounds which break open again even decades later. Indeed it was part of the trigger for my latest WEP piece.
    I do understand alcohol to numb the pain, and the incredible damage it causes. So glad you were able to extract yourself from its evil clutches.

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    1. Thank you EC, yes words are much more painful, the episodes of my father's physical violence are lost in the midst of time but those words overwrite any praise or good wishes, you know what I mean.

      I feel very fortunate as most die.

      XO
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  5. Understand much you share, no problem with alcohol, but teen age parents
    I did very well and a lot jealousy from parents and siblings, I carried on, a divorce, the most painful and so many sad happenings seem want to surface, my words to you, slow down.

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    1. I think if we have the time in aging a lot of this stuff resurfaces and we tend to reflect more on factors that changed our lives and had us cope in different ways.

      I think I'm doing a good job of balancing lately. Truly. Not over extending myself.

      XO
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  6. It's terrible the way the negative comments we receive are the ones that stick and hurt. All the good things people say get lost while we focus on the ones that make/made us feel bad. I remember my dad telling me I was fat and stupid. now I'm not the smartest person out there, but I'm not stupid either and at that time I weighed a mere 52kg. It still hurts now, almost 20 years later.

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    1. It lingers on drowning all the good stuff and praise offered to us over the years. I felt highly validated last night at a cast party when two of the really young ones said to me: "I want to be exactly like you when I age if I'm lucky."
      I'm allowing these little lifts to dominate such much of the old crap, the stuff that made us feel unworthy.

      So terribly sorry River for that awful, dreadful pronouncement. Your father had issues. As mine did. It takes a long time to untangle the knots.

      XO
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  7. So many of your memories of insecurities in younger years resonate with me too, WWW. I was plagued by weight rather than height. I was overweight for my age, not obese, but very chunky. I didn't fit in to the sporty or physical exercise circles during high school, all girls - my self confidence was low, in spite of being pretty bright academically. I found it hard to make friends. I don't have unpleasant memories of any remarks by my parents though - I was a spoiled only child, I guess.

    Once I left home to work away I eventually slimmed down, after living mainly on apples for a few years, and working, at one point, with a young woman who had been a fashion model. She taught me to apply makeup properly, and advised on better style generally - advice for which I've been eternally grateful. The underlying lack of confidence has remained though, until old age took over with new attitudes. As Frank Sinatra is alleged to have said once, "You gotta love livin', baby, 'cause dyin' is a pain in the ass." :)

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    1. Thoughtful comment T. I omitted to say that I was anorexic at 14 so gaunt, did not want the rounded body I had been born into that was a constant joke among rellies as my baby portrait was on the wall in the dining room with my chubby knees and face- so life long food issues.

      I had low self confidence tho like you I was fairly gifted academically.

      Gosh I wish we knew then what we know now.

      Finally falling into ourselves and liking what we see :D

      XO
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  8. "Your brains have been wasted on a girl." What an appalling thing for a father to say to his daughter.

    I still care too much about what others think of me, and I still over-think what I'm about to say in case I annoy or offend someone.

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    1. I know Nick,right?, but in the era I was raised he genuinely believed it. He was the treasured only son in a family of 5 sisters. Girls had only one purpose apart from the nunnery - breed.

      I've worked on becoming the authentic me and really don't care who I offend anymore. I am not rude but have opinions that have been carefully thought out and weighed and evaluated.

      XO
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  9. Look how you turned out now. The pride of everyone who knows you. The love of everyone's life. Introspective,wise,giving help to those who need you, spreading the word.
    You have succeeded in being your true self. You have won! We have won for "knowing" you. We love your spirit and your drive. Grandgirl knows you are the "bee's knees", and her mom as well. Love shall sustain us. You are outstanding.

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    1. If you wouldn't have told any of your story, I wouldn't know about it.
      As far as I can see , that is what I see.
      From here. :)

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  10. Wow Gemma, you humble me. I believe it is only true pain we are forced to change, we come through the other side with a different truth and forge a far different path. I am grateful for my alcoholism which had me on my knees and forced me to do this. We can only influence others when we have walked their walk and felt their pain. IMO. No one wants a lecture.
    XO
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  11. There's been some interesting research of girls' development and one solid finding is that many (most) girls are pretty self-confidant until sometime after ten or so. Puberty, basically. Then suddenly we start doubting ourselves and feeling self-conscious. The same is not true for boys.

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    1. Interesting study, SAW and I would believe. I remember feeling so fragile and ill at ease and not fitting in. Horrible. I wouldn't relive those years for anything.

      XO
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