I don’t think it started until late Sunday, early Monday after the Songbirds Cabaret that was held on Friday. We had workshops on Saturday and Sunday that were absolutely amazing. Everyone left with a smile and a feeling of love, belonging and growth. So, I was still riding pretty high. It was such intrinsic satisfaction, even if I was a tad bit exhausted.
Then, it started happening. My mind took hold. Talk about Illuminating the Stories that Bind Us folks. But I’m afraid my self-compassion skills were not accessible at first. I started playing the feedback and compliments that people shared with me around the Songbirds Cabaret over and over in my head (like the ones I had in the last letter.)
And I started thumbing through them in my mental filing cabinet – looking for any compliments around my voice. I was like okay, the guitarist (Kelly Cherry) said I sounded great. My husband and my cousins mentioned my voice improving leaps and bounds. And my niece said: “you crushed it!”. But suddenly that handful of people had nothing on the two handfuls of people that said amazing things but didn’t mention my voice. Soooo….because they omitted any comments about my voice, the stories started at a rapid fire: “I sounded awful!” “I sang in front of a bunch of people and sounded awful”.
At the thought of these possible stories being true, to say that my skin started to literally crawl is an understatement.
I panicked and looked for the footage that was available. I listened to one glimpse and heard my voice off key and just stopped listening/watching. I started to think of specific people in the audience and thought – “oh no! did they cringe? Please God, please say people didn’t cringe” – “how can I live with myself if people cringed??”
This raw shame and embarrassment quickly moved to the shame response of attack where suddenly I was saying things in my head like (mind you this has all been in my head thus far):
· I didn’t see anyone else get up with the vulnerability that I had
· As a society, do we just go around and judge people while they’re doing what they love?
· Are people not allowed to do what we are born with (song, art, dance) if it’s not perfect? Not on key? In other words, is the message we’re sending is – if you can’t sing, draw, dance, paint – don’t do it!!!
I had imagined all of these noses up in the air at me. There were actually only two cases where someone spoke specifically to my voice. One person said: “I was worried you were going to feel embarrassed” and the other said: “definitely practice more – you can tell it makes you happy, just keep practicing”. Again, not so bad but my head took it to places I can’t even tell you. But I was aware enough not to attack these so- called critics that I made up in my head for too long – what help would that be? Turning the shame into hate would not help. I knew this on more than one level.
There are three highly vulnerable moments during this “vulnerability hangover” that stand out to me. Real quick before I share them, I have to share that Brene Brown writes about this in her book Daring Greatly. I’m only just reading it now, as I write this, and I’m blown away at how exactly on point she is about “all of the feels” I had. She’s so amazing.
Okay – the three moments:
· 1. I marco polo’d my assistant Cassie and cried, sobbed – expressing the vulnerability and rawness that I felt. I shared how embarrassed I was and that moving forward maybe I should just stick to writing and speaking. My assistant, by the way, has an extraordinary voice. So much so that the drummer at one of our events tried to recruit her for his band. When I asked her why she doesn’t perform, she expressed how her voice is hers and she doesn’t want people critiquing it. So, I expressed to her how much I got that now. You can see a clip of me pouring my heart out here….
· 2. I shared with my therapist how unbelievably vulnerable I felt – the rawness, the crawling out of my skin, the wanting to run, numb this feeling. And I will never forget her saying: “this must be why famous musicians overdose”. I was like YESSSSSSSS! This is such an intense feeling. And it’s so complicated because I’m feeling so embarrassed about something that felt so good at the time. Something that brought me joy, connect, and living out my dreams. How could something so right and perfect morph into this?
· 3. I had a follow up session with Mick and Tess Pulver – the coaches that planted and nourished the seed of this WOW STAGE journey and I literally sobbed the whole time. Expressing my fear that people in the audience cringed – “what if I made them cringe, my people pleasing part and perfectionist part exclaimed”. I struggled to focus on the good – and instead focused on my fears.
So, I was left with the question in my mind and in my heart. What do I do with this crash? How do I use it to inform me moving forward? Does this crash mean I never follow my dreams again? Does this crash mean I just write and speak at The WOW STAGE – no more singing!!! Does this crash mean that I encourage other people to do it because I know it brings them joy, connection, healing powers that no other medium can do but in my heart I think: but does it make sense that I will never do it again and expect others to? Does it make sense to deny myself this outlet of joy but promote it for others because I was afraid I made people cringe?
I kept these questions. I held them. Meditated on them. Continued to bring them to therapy, etc. I sat with the uncomfortable and the raw. I even drummed up the courage to watch myself sing from start to finish. I’ll tell you more about that and my decision to sing or not to sing, in my next email
Thanks for listening to this one. Absolutely the most vulnerable I have ever felt.
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