Self-acceptance and honesty. I am realizing that they go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly, brick and mortar…Sonny and Cher 🙂 For any of you that follow this blog, you know that I have had a lot of struggles over the years with self esteem. I could spend the rest of my life psycho-analyzing the reasons for that but to what end? I know a lot of the reasons already, and whichever new ones I might discover through dramatic therapy sessions aren’t going to change a darn thing. It’s knowledge I don’t need. Any damage to be done has already taken place. But the wonderful thing is, I’m finally starting to realize that I don’t need to live in that part of myself anymore.
It’s taken me a long time, along with wisdom and insight from a dear friend, to come to this realization. I know that changing the thought patterns…the default mechanisms…well…it will be a process. It won’t happen overnight…but I’ve finally decided that it IS going to happen.
I don’t need to carry the weight of self-deprecation around with me anymore and I don’t need to be a slave to it. The reason I say slave is because I’m starting to see what it has done to me in terms of how I view myself, which in turn prevents me from moving forward in a lot of areas of my life. I get in the way of myself – and that’s a scary thought. The idea of discovering how to change that seems overwhelming.
I know that I’m being a bit vague so without going into a lot of unnecessary detail…I will share a little more…but before I do, I need to back track a little. Self-acceptance and honesty…why do I feel you can’t have self-acceptance without honesty? It’s really quite simple. If I am not honest with myself in regards to the good that dwells in me I can’t possibly accept myself for who and what I really am. I have no problem at all in acknowledging the faults, but when that is all I acknowledge, I paint a very different picture to myself of who I really am, and truthfully, it snowballs into all areas of being. It prevents me from having the ability to see the good that I accomplish on a personal level…instead I have become ultra-critical of myself and dishonest about my accomplishments. Not knowingly, not purposefully, but that has been the end result. I have created an image of my accomplishments that is not fair to me, and in turn, I hold myself back from accomplishing even more. Total honesty acknowledges all things including the good…and when I acknowledge the good…I can finally accept myself as who and what I really am, and I can see that I have that part of myself intact.
Self-deprecation is inclusive of the disparagement of your own abilities and talents/skills. This is what I was being vague about earlier. This part that I’m going to write now is extremely difficult for me simply because it is so absolutely foreign to my train of thought and yet, it is so absolutely necessary for the place I want to exist in. This is where honesty is going to come into play…and being honest does not mean being proud or arrogant. It does not equate to being a braggart. It means owning the truths that are within us. We all have good truths. It’s not only okay to accept them…it’s necessary. So here goes…
I love music. I can’t state it any more simply and honestly than that. I don’t exist in my soul without it. I breathe it in and I’m okay no matter what. It speaks to me all of the time. No matter what is going on in my day…there is a song floating in my mind that I may not have heard or thought of in years, but it is there singing to me about whatever I am going through at the moment – precisely and intuitively. The words fit the situation perfectly. I don’t know how else to explain it and maybe this happens to everyone…I don’t know. But it’s how my soul talks to me. I started taking voice lessons, yet my teacher would not know these things about me. He would not be able to see this. He would not see how absolutely affected I am by music because I close up like a clam trying to protect itself when I am singing in front of anyone. I can’t let myself be vulnerable and that stems from years of seeing only my flaws which in turn led to me not being comfortable in my own self. I am taking piano lessons because I want to improve which is something I want to strive for all of my life…yet I can’t accept the fact that I am already good. I have taught myself to play and I am perceptive but I don’t live in that truth. I beat myself up over the flaws. So…today…I am going to take what is a very painful step for me…painful because it’s the first step in twisting my reality into a truthful reality…and my reality for myself has always been “if I make a mistake…I am not good”. There has never been middle ground for me. It’s not been a conscious train of thought…it’s been conditioned into me somewhere along the line but I am determined to change that. It may be one of the hardest things I’ve tried to do but I will do it. I’m not giving myself any other options. In order for this to work I have daily steps I need to take but I have to start by coming clean with myself and with you…I have to be honest. So here is my musical truth in a nutshell:
I tried to take a couple of piano lessons when I was younger, a freshman in school. I didn’t care for them. I was painfully shy and was so nervous to play for anyone. So I taught myself to play and I learned very very quickly. I still remember to this day the first time my hands worked together in different rhythm to play a song. And I still smile at how that made me feel. But it was just for me that I played. My Dad would ask me to play Aura Lee for him…an older song that was one of his absolute favorites. I wouldn’t…I couldn’t. I mean…I could play it, but I didn’t want the attention on me at all. I remember in high school choir, wishing I could have an opportunity to accompany on some of the songs…because I taught them to myself at home. But I never had the self confidence to speak up and say hey! I can do this. Nobody knew I could play. So, yes, that’s sad and sappy but it’s okay and it’s over.
So fast forward to now…I continued to play for myself but I quit playing for several years as life switched directions while raising a family and working, etc. Then in 1995 – 1997 I believe, I wrote and recorded several songs. I still know they were a gift from God because the whole experience was extremely cathartic and the songs are all healing songs. Now…my natural inclination here is to tell you about how “not good” the recordings are. Okay…fair…I had only myself, an untrained voice, and a keyboard and not a lot of knowledge of how to use the recording tracks on it for my “other instruments”. I liked to used strings and flute on the songs too. (These were synthesized sounds). The recording quality and balance is not good. So yeah…a lot to be desired – if you are expecting a professional sounding CD…you won’t find it here. But now …the other honest fair – they are damn good songs!!!! For someone with no musical training to just write songs like these…I should be frickin amazed!! 🙂 They are all from the heart and I have shared them over the years with just a handful of people…I always knew who God wanted to hear them…and they got so much out of them. The spiritual healings that occurred were truly from God, so yes…God does work through the least of us because I should never have been able to write.
Life took its turns and again I found myself away from the music for many years. But here I am today…with a new (to me) piano that sounds beautiful and I’m trying to learn to play well. I do play well. I don’t play like a professional and I am not trained to play classically, but that’s okay. I play well, and when I’m not playing in front of anyone I can play really well! My hope is that in acknowledging this I can stop getting in the way of my learning process and be comfortable playing in front of my family and friends. I come to life in the evenings. I am now officially addicted to my piano and can play for hours if the time is available. The later in the evening the better because the world has gone to sleep and it’s just me and the music.
I’m trying to learn to sing better. I have been blessed with an amazing vocal instructor (who I still think has magic powers) and my eyes are being opened to a lot of things. My little corner of the world is expanding. I need to own the fact that I have a beautiful voice when I sing correctly. I am going to acknowledge that and I am going to tell myself it’s okay to admit that. I have been blessed with a large vocal range and we are going to continue to develop my voice.
So…I have everything that I need to do what I want musically. My lacking ingredient was honesty. Honesty in the good that exists. Honesty that will, in time, allow me to get out of my own way. I will have to continue to feed this to myself because one doesn’t change overnight, but now I have found the truths that will make me whole…the yin for my yang.