I sang when I was a kid, and played guitar. I had a pretty good voice and ear, but my self esteem was so wasted I came to think I was pathetic at singing. Eventually I gave up.
I kept trying to reconnect with my voice over the years, but the messages I’d internalized – and the conclusions I’d drawn about myself – were too strong. I lost my ability to sing, couldn’t connect with my emotions. I sang in tune but there was no quality to my voice.
I gave up trying. My longing to express it still lived in me, but I suppressed it. I couldn’t even listen to music at all, it was too painful. I didn’t listen to the radio, to anything. No music in my life. Amazing.
It was really painful. I was disconnected from my soul – or that’s what it felt like. I coped with my longing by telling myself I hated music. I even hated the word music. Couldn’t say it without flinching.
About five years ago took jazz lessons and told me a few things, which I fiddled about with on the piano. I loved the sounds – it was very simple stuff – but something in me fired up. I started wanting to sing jazz, so I took my courage in my hand and went for lessons at a jazz school.
All the stuff I hadn’t been able to deal with as a child came flooding back. I had so much repressed emotion, which was very painful when it began to be released. I spent a lot of the time in the lessons crying! My teacher was kind, but she didn’t understand that I couldn’t remember how to sing.
Even when I told her, she didn’t know what to do about it. I moved onto another teacher who didn’t know either. Neither of them had any understanding of what makes a person shut down, or how to reach through the barriers.
I had to learn how to do it for myself. I learned how to take the pressure off myself for achieving and I began to reconnect with my voice by listening to my body. I laboriously began to dismantle the inner persecution. I had big demons residing in my musical being.
If anybody criticized me I lost my voice, the power just drained out of me. I’ll never understand how some people believe we learn best by being crucified and criticized. We don’t – we learn how to be adaptive, and how to work hard, with fear as a motivation. But when we’re nurtured, our individuality and our creativity come alive.
Now I sing at home, give myself the nurturing I need. It still takes forever to warm up, and until it has, it’s as if I don’t have a voice again. No emotion, no quality of sound, no timbre. I often despair – will I ever be able to break through my own limitations?
One step at a time. I want to do this. I want to sing. I want to reconnect. Fear doesn’t paralyze me the way it used to, and it’s true for all aspects of my life. I’m stepping out of history in the rest of my life, so I must be able to step out of it in my music, too. I’d so love a mentor.
Come, life, bring me to a mentor who can lead me out into the world as a singer.