30 September, 1993
I tried to make it.
I didn’t understand the directions
But you thought I knew
Now you tell me I made it wrong—
That I didn’t want to
Because you asked me to
Don’t you know
I want to please you?
But I can’t see
What is in your mind
Help me know!
But don’t ask for me—
Ask for what you want of me.
I don’t fit your plan.
“You can do anything you want to do” was the encouragement I got from my mom throughout my life. What a powerful image of support to a child! With one catch. If it didn’t come out the way she thought it should look, I obviously “didn’t want to do it” because she had asked me to. I soon learned the unfinished part of that affirmation. You can do anything you want to do as long as you do it the way I want it done.
Life became a guessing game with isolating and painful consequences for guessing wrong. I learned early that is was “my fault” if something didn’t work out. I hadn’t tried hard enough. I was being stubborn. I just didn’t care. I was obstinate, or the one said to me only two years ago, I was “always a sassy brat.”
I learned to choose relationships based on what I thought was affirmation. Somehow my unconscious mind seemed to key into people who had fixed demands that seemed to be clear cut but usually weren’t. I stumbled along having success in some places and failures in others then moving on with my family where failure to fit in was the norm.
I say I am addicted to running because it is true, I do run. But much of my running has been from me. When I have moved from something I couldn’t cope with, I have usually locked it away, like my drawing, and only opened it up when some writing topic allowed me to look at it and ask myself why I stopped drawing.
What I didn’t ask myself was why I kept going to a class where the teacher’s style created such a dicotomy between what I could see and what he was calling good drawing. Why did I keep going when the criticisms were more about not meeting his ideals instead of not being able to do the skills? Why did I stay until I reached a point of running from me?
Two years ago when I chose to show my parents my painting skill, I hardly completed the background when my mother began to tell me what the painting had to be. Okay, it was for my mom and dad, so I began to paint in what she wanted.
My flexible mind began to warm to the change, seeing how I could create something beautiful that honored my mother’s wishes.
“Stop!” my parents chimed together. “Don’t add anything more or you will ruin it.” I looked at my picture. I looked inward at what I knew it could be, and with a sigh I remembered the rule: “You can do anything you want to do as long as you do it the way I want it done.” I let the painting go, defensively painted a second with a firm but rigid idea that they couldn’t change.
The third ended up broken in the garbage when my mother started her demands again. I couldn’t do it. The artist in me was not willing to bend her vision to the will of the one I had bowed to in fear for so much of my life.
Today I made a new choice. Today, I turned to the siren’s voice in me that sweetly lurred me into staying in a negative situation. Today I turned down the volume of that voice and made a new choice. Today I quit my guitar lessons, not because I am running from me but because I allowed myself to accept the chasm between his style of teaching and the descrepancies in his comments and what I had come to learn.
I chose to accept that my goals had validity and that one teacher did not have the total say as to whether or not I could accomplish my goal. I honoured my truth even when he denied the disparaging words he said. I chose to step away from a harmful situation, give myself time to regroup, and believe that I can find a teacher who is in tune with the type of music that I am seeking to learn. I took the risk of believing in myself.
Today, I made the choice to quit my guitar lessons while I still had the desire and the drive to play. I did it with as much grace as I could but I chose to stop running from my dreams into the expectations of others.
I have the great book of Celtic tunes to dig into when I get home. My fingers are itching to play for the first time in weeks.