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.