I have spent a lot of time thinking about the text I sent to my mother asking her if she was disappointed in me, and her answer. And it’s brought up a lot of feelings, and memories.
I spent most of my childhood, trying to please people (heck if I am honest I have spent most of my adulthood doing the same thing). I have to be the rescuer, if I help people, they will love me. If I do this or that they will be proud of me- and love me.
When I was little I loved to sing. I watched Star Search faithfully. I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. I wish I could say that people forgot to tell me I wasn’t very good- because they did tell me. My parents told me I wasn’t good enough for Star Search. The kids at school made it obvious. I have never lost my love of singing. I sing everything. All the time. But I am very conscious about who hears me. I haven’t forgotten that I am no good at it. Even at church my worship is muted.
When I was ten years old as a family we went on a Caribbean cruise my dad won as a bonus from work. It was an amazing trip for a 10 year old. I have some really good memories from that week, but I also have some very sad, dark moments from that trip. And the more I think about the trip the more it’s marred by these memories that pop up… But only one of those moments is what I wanted to write about today.
The cruise was full. Looking at the capacity of the ship online, there was over one-thousand people on the boat. Every night there was entertainment. One night it was advertised there would be a talent show. I secretly registered. I didn’t tell my mom until just before we left the cabin for the show and I didn’t tell my dad until I was called up on stage. It was a disaster, I looked out into the audience and I froze, I missed start, and started behind the band. I was off-key. Since I didn’t start on time the band ended before I had sung the entire song.
Over the years it became a big joke in my family that I had done this. My off-key singing, my exit off the stage to tell them I hadn’t finished, my deer in the headlights look as the music started. All a big joke. But what I wanted most of all from all of that? My parents to be proud of me. If you were to ask them- they’d say they were, they told me they couldn’t believe I would do that in front of so many people. But they still made fun of me. The mixed messages over the years has made it one of the single most embarrassing moments in my entire life. Instead of me feeling a sense of pride, instead of remembering my parents being proud, I remember them telling people about it, and getting a good laugh at my goof ups. I can’t even tell you how many people they relayed the story to over the years in such a way that made me want to crawl under a rock. Everything I tried to do that I messed up on became fodder not just for the kids at school, but by my own family. It’s just another memory of not being good enough. I think about it whenever I sing.
It’s no wonder I don’t take risks. I don’t do anything unless I know I will be successful. I don’t do anything that I might make a mistake at. People will laugh. People will make fun. People will remember. Remind me of my grandmother. My dad’s mother and I were close. She was the one person that loved me best. And loved me just the way I am. I had a poster in my room that she loved, and I gave to her on one of her visits. It was a monkey, and under him said “when I do right no one remembers, but when I do wrong- no one forgets”. Truer words were never spoken.
While my love of singing hasn’t left my heart, I’d rather die than sing in front of people unless they are the people closest to me in the world- and I will join in with others in public, but I won’t belt it out- that 10 year old girl reminds me every time I open my mouth to sing that people will ridicule me…..