I am discovering something important as I take my first piano lessons as I near my 60th birthday: The mountain of my mother’s verbal abuse of me is still here inside of me. Never in all my adult life have I heard my Borderline Mother’s verbal condemnations against me so clearly as I have been during my first stages of working my way through my piano practice. If I list any of what I am ‘hearing’ it will be in the pages of the book I am writing, not here. In fact, I don’t want to face them at all — but I do want to learn to read music and play music.
I am noting this experience here because I am now suspecting that those words have been working against me all of my life in ways that I have never even guessed at. I also have new concerns that they are working against me through all of my writing efforts, as well. I am humbled to realize that her words are still a part of my body-brain-mind. They come to me as clearly as they would if I were still a child and my mother was beside me, or more likely, towering behind me every time I sit with my fingers on those keys.
In order to learn to read music, to play, really PLAY with this music I am finding ways to erase those words at least from my conscious awareness. But I am not at all sure her words are actually gone from me. After all, they have must have always been there somewhere or they wouldn’t be showing up now. They are horrible. They are appalling. They are wicked and mean and evil words against me. They are words I heard in some version or form every single day of the first 18 years of my life (perhaps with the one two-month exception noted in my most recent posts).
Her words were (and are) life-stopping words. They are well-being stopping words. They are happiness stopping words. THEY ARE HER WORDS, and I need to tell myself that continually every time they appear. Her words are music killing words. They are joy deadening words. Her words are thieves that steal me, my passion, my desire, my hope and my belief in my own potential and right to be happy away from my self.
It might be easy for me to mouth some simplistic rhetoric about how they are ‘lies’, about how I replace them with positive rhetoric of my own, how I can ignore them, etc. ad infinitum. The fact of the matter is that my mother’s words must still be so much of how I know myself in the world that I must barely recognize and know my true own self at all.
That is tragic. That is heartbreaking. And, that astounds me!
After all this time, after all these years have passed in my life, how could it be that my mother’s VOICE — and yes, I don’t hear just her words, I hear her VOICE (How sad is that?) — HER VOICE saying those abuse litany words as I move my eyes over these sheets of simple music before me, as I stumble my fingers over these keys.
Her words were always meant to stop me from being happy at the same time they were meant to keep me from knowing myself. There is nobody who I can hire to come teach me to erase Mother’s words from my brain-mind like I can hire someone to come to my home and teach me how to learn music. I have to learn this part for myself, and I am learning it.
At first I thought I had to get my OWN critical self out of the way so I can learn piano. Now I realize I have to get my very ill and long dead mother out of my way. I feel like every cell in my body was branded with those words, and no matter how many times those cells have died and reproduced themselves over these years, brain cells do not do that. They remember remember remember remember……..
Verbal abuse is deadly. Researchers are discovering that verbal abuse is worse for a child than any other single form of child abuse. (Google search: “stop the storm verbal abuse” for some of the posts on this blog on this subject.)
These researchers are not lying. This experience I am having as I learn to play music is excruciatingly real, as well. I am glad I have finally seen how those words are still a part of me — but I don’t know that I can find a way to keep them from creating the same toxic interference with my writing that they showed the power to do with my music.
I suspect that perhaps learning keyboard has awakened the voice of the sleeping Mother Monster that was beaten into me because it so thoroughly invokes, awakes, and involves BOTH left and right brain hemispheres. Learning is a vastly stimulating experience. It shakes things up. It re-forms people. Learning rearranges people. It changes them. Learning makes us grow. And some of us have to fight our way through and past such condemnation programmed into us from such an early age that it actually seems a miracle we can learn anything new at all!
I no longer wonder why I waited until I was this old to decide to learn something I have thought about wanting to learn all of my adult life. I couldn’t let myself know how much I really wanted to learn music before now because I believe it is ONLY now that I am strong enough to battle my way through this learning PAST the horrible words that have attacked me in this piano/music learning process.
But I am happy to report that at the time of last evening’s practice I heard fewer of those hate filled words. I felt less of a depth in the gashes of the lashes those words have always carved so close to my soul and so far from the range of my conscious awareness that they were even there. I am not that mute and dumb to them now. They have forced their way right up to the surface perhaps in their programmed intention to STOP LINDA FROM BEING TRULY HAPPY!
Perhaps there has never been any better way for me to overcome the power Mother’s words have had over my entire life than to do and accomplish this one thing: To be able to read and play and find great great joy in making music.
No longer does the black ink on white on music-filled pages look like chicken scratch to me. I want to HEAR the sound that came from the minds of the people who wrote that music. I personally can’t imagine any way to more closely KNOW a tiny piece of another person than to hear their music — as my own. Maybe it will finally be the power THAT sound has that will finally erase for me the sound of my insanely abusive mom.
4 thoughts on “+WHO KNOWS THE POWER OF MUSIC?”
I love the way you think so deeply about things. You are really a treasure.
When you read the next post, connected deeply to this one, please be sure to click on the title of the post when it shows up in your email ’cause I have added onto it. I need a break now — as you will see when you read the email I sent to my youngest sister — with forward to you and Ramona. Tough stuff!! much love! me
How I wish for you every time you hear your mother’s sick voice come up you would quickly hear the many voices who speak of their genuine love and adoration of you. I wish you could tell that voice that words of truth are now available to you for you to incorporate into your authenic and valuable self that you are.
You are so very loved by those who know you. Trust in that truth.Combat those lies with the truth. YOU ARE LOVED!!!!
Thanks so much, sweetie! But as I now know, the earliest voice (that I heard for 18 long years) built itself into my brain in ways that cannot be replicated.
From there — and now — it takes continual conscious effort on my part and on the part of those who truly love me to give me those new true words — that will not build themselves into me in the way a mother’s voice does. They cannot. This is not by itself a BAD thing, it’s just a fact.
I think a part of what I am learning is that MUSIC and learning it/playing it especially on keyboard because that process is so taxing (not a bad thing either, is excellent exercise and mental healing/development) to both brain hemispheres.
An infant builds voices, especially its mother’s voice, into its entire growing body-brain-mind-self in the womb. Post womb, the sound of the human voice matters to an infant most importantly excelled only by the SMELL and TOUCH of Mother.
Voice and vocal language IS MUSIC – that’s why language experts speak of PROSODY and RHYTHM of speech. So I believe it is this new music learning that has the MOST power to heal that part of my brain that has permanently remembered the SOUND of Mother’s voice.
It just so happened that the sound of her voice became coupled with the WORDS, but beneath the words is the MUSIC (most of the time horrible to hear, true enough) of her voice. I am HEARING HER VOICE saying those awful words to me — and that fascinates me! Never before has this happened to m (as an adult) so clearly!
This is tied to something I have known for a few years now, something that is tied to my Social Security Disability — to my ‘disability’. I did not learn the combination of SOUND with spoken WORDS in a normal way. All patterns of preverbal and nonverbal communication with my mother were disturbed by her abusive psychosis toward me — because that originated at my birthing for her.
When I get very anxious in social interactions people’s words become separated from the SOUND (music/prosody/rhythm) of their speech.
I hear that FIRST – detect it first, screen it for danger — LONG before I hear words. Often, when my anxiety is very heightened (as happened often through doctor visits during chemo and cancer treatment) – I never hear the words AT ALL. I cannot make them out. I watch mouths move but it is pure SOUND that comes out that has NOTHING to do with words.
All of this makes perfect sense to me. Humans had evolved for MILLIONS of years before we achieved a developmental level as a species about 140,000 years ago that allowed for our FOXP2 speech related gene to become activated. Our survival as a species and as a very young infant had NOTHING to do with words.
I am expecting a breakthrough to occur for me in the music learning process as I stick with it, practice, and make the brain connections in both of my brain hemispheres (left and right) that will give me technical skill and ability to interact with the piano keys.
Eventually I fully anticipate — expect — that I will in effect break through a veil, a barrier, a barricade where for the first time in my life SOUND
will not be associated with trauma, threat, harm or anticipation of harm. Then there will be SOUND and that sound will be all good. It will be music and I will ‘hear’ it with every cell of my body.
The only image I have to use to think about this whole process has to do with what I experienced very shortly after I awoke from my double mastectomy surgery. I had internally placed pain medicine where the surgery took place and for a very brief period of time I was given morphine.
When I woke up, I sat up — and I did something so good, so useful, so right, and so necessary — so instinctive, so natural and so important it amazes me.
What I did is what I did every single step from birth through my childhood. It is one of the brilliant gifts I wrote about in this morning’s post that I have and am beginning to recognize and consciously utilize when I need it.
I reached my arms over my head. I reached them out to both sides of me and back over my head as far as I could. I suppose I looked like a big grounded bird working the kinks out of my cooped up wings. I STRETCHED as as I did so I felt and heart a strange scraping tearing breaking sound inside my entire chest and under my arms.
I know now what that sound was. I know what I did and what happened.
When I saw my surgeon a few weeks after surgery she asked me if I experienced limited range of motion in my upper torso, and I said, “No, not one bit.” She mentioned that many, if not most women do. I know why I don’t!
I stretched. I stretched into the new cancer free, breast free life just as powerfully, surely and instinctively as I stretched myself through the growing years of my childhood no matter WHAT my mother did to me. She had no power to stop my growth. She had no power to stop my stretching into my life every moment at a time.
In that stretching, no matter what SCAR TISSUE needs to get broken and dissolved — as best as my body, directed by ME can accomplish, is my learning. I am always stretching toward learning. That is where life is.
And my piano playing efforts now are the same thing! I will have an inner auditory range of motion, far past the scar tissue that has formed around the SOUND of my mother’s insane verbal abuse of me — what I know of her WORDS will change as the sound behind those words heals and changes.
Without her VOICE, the sound and rhythm and volume and beat and reach of it — my mother would have HAD NO WORDS.
Her litany, all of Borderline litanies that held her Borderline reality together never could have existed at all. Now, I will dissolve her litany of me on a whole new level.