Monday, June 9, 2014.  I continue to document my ongoing experience of being alive in a body permanently changed in its physiological development by overwhelming traumatic abuse from birth as it continued unabated for 18 years of my childhood.  In ways that I do not understand I often find it helpful to snatch things that trouble me to confine them in words I write here.

It’s not that what troubles me STOPS troubling me after I write a post.  I wish that were so.  But something helpful does usually happen when I write.  So what if this process remains a mystery to me?  I need any reprieve I can find.

One thing I know about myself is that I am always in danger of being blindsided by my trauma history in ways that I have in the past allowed to dissuade me from pursuing experiences that bring me joy.  Currently the threat is to my drumming passion.  I do NOT want to let myself walk away and leave behind something that is connected to a powerful inward passion, something I LOVE to do.

I have a dear friend who has agreed to not let me walk away from drumming.  Yet it is inside of myself that I am fighting this battle with myself today.  I am hoping if I write about this the burden will be lifted and my joy will return.


I am paying 11% of my meager disability income each month to take weekly 1/2-hour drum lessons at a local music store taught by an expert who has a doctorate in percussion.  Brett also teaches piano and flute.  Up until this past Saturday my desire, my willingness, my enthusiasm, my hopefulness, my resiliency has carried me forward just fine.

I was “HIT” and I am wavering.  My spirit is dwindling.

The first time I went to lessons I blanched as I walked through a wall of terror into a tiny practice room and the door was shut.  There I was choosing to enter a tiny confined space which triggered a long history of trauma from a childhood filled with solitary, forced confinement which progressed into my teens where Mother’s psychosis led her to finding even more bizarre ways of enforcing her desire to keep confined me in her hell.

On top of that I agreed with myself to sit with a stranger.  Well, as time has moved forward I am finding that even having to drum during lessons on the same small practice pad (which sits on a stand) with Brett is extremely hard for me to do.  On top of that his pad has a raised rim around it where mine at home does not — so hitting the rim during lessons remains a big problem for me along with having to share a drumming pad with anyone else!

Then comes the performance anxiety.  I can drum the first piece of music Brett gave me going on 3 weeks ago just fine at home alone and on my own.  I CANNOT do so under the lesson’s conditions.  So I am paying my money to be sent home each week to practice this single damn piece yet AGAIN — not because I cannot play it but because I cannot play it in front of my teacher, along WITH my teacher.

Then it comes to now being corrected for flaws in my hand position that have been there for weeks.  It strikes me as extra difficult to have not been corrected weeks ago for flaws in hand positioning that I have continued to practice until I have great prowess — with the flaws!

It is all nerve wracking.  It all discourages me — right on through the part where  Brett insisted in my last lesson that he gave me three sheets of new music to practice –WHICH HE DID NOT GIVE ME!  I would HAVE them if he’d given them to me — as I so smoothly pointed out to him.

He was also not happy I went to YouTube to find out how to do a triple stroke drum roll because Brett had assigned me that for a week’s practice without showing me how to do one first.  I learned to do what I watched online — and of course — you guessed it — it was ALL WRONG!

Along with what else I pointed out to him when he told me not to worry if I can’t drum perfectly….  “After all it took me millions of hours of playing to get as good as I am,” Brett said to me.

Me in return?  “I don’t HAVE millions of hours to practice left in my lifetime.  In case you haven’t noticed I am significantly older than you are.”  Brett is half my age!  We both smiled.  That tight lips-in-a-line kind of smile.

Do I give up?  WILL I give up?  I don’t WANT to practice today.  That’s the first time this has happened to me since I began my lessons.  I MUST work through this.  I don’t have that many years left to let go of my passions.  I deserve my joy!

I WANT to learn this.  Brett is teaching me the perfect way to drum — classical drumming.  I MUST let myself understand that perfection is not in the people although it is to be striven for in technique.

Who is going to advocate for me if I don’t do it for myself?  Nobody.

So my next step is to have the music store order a cymbal stand for me that my own practice pad will screw onto.  It will help me at home so I don’t have to tape my pad onto a stool that I need elsewhere for other things in my tiny apartment.  I won’t have to battle the baby who likes to rip the pad off of the stool and run away with it.  (We argue about whose turn it is to use the drumsticks quite often throughout a day.)

Then….  Next step….  I will be able to decide if I want to carry my own stand along with me on my mile walk to lessons so I can set it up in that tiny studio to play on my OWN pad.  Talk about problems with personal space and boundaries!

Where there are problems there have to be solutions.  NOW I will practice.  At the moment I don’t feel I WANT to practice.  I will do so because some part of me is insisting I MUST!!

But what a pain-in-the-patoosky that even the smallest things nearly always turn into some kind of a HUGE CHALLENGE!!  Oh, well.  That’s the story of my life.


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  1. One of the biggest disappointments of my life was my experience attempting to learn to play the piano. My parents couldn’t afford lessons or a piano. I was thrilled with the opportunity to take a class in college on beginning piano. So there were three rows of electronic keyboards and everyone would wear headphones in this class. Many of the students who had had piano lessons for years as kids, were taking this as an “easy” grade. I had never had lessons and couldn’t read sheet music. But I optimistically thought, this is something you have always wanted to do. How hard could it be? The answer, excuse my language, was PRETTY DAMN HARD! Every week the instructor would beep into your headphones to listen to you play. Even though I practiced extra, and went to him during non-class time for extra help, I thought I was terrible compared to the rest of the class. In hindsight I was really just a piano-playing baby trying to keep up with piano-playing high schoolers…but in any case the anxiety kicked in and even my meager progress began to be inhibited severely. The only thing I ever learned to play was “Go tell Aunt Rhody the old gray goose is dead”. Now there’s a catchy and optimistic tune for ya (NOT!). The last part of this ordeal was that it was mandatory that you had to play in the end of semester recital. I felt totally humiliated. Ok, this probably isn’t helping with your drumming problems, but the fact of the matter is, I still wish that I could play the piano and read music and wish that I had been confident enough to realize that not everyone learns at the same rate and that any improvement in a new endeavor is an accomplishment no matter how small. Keep drumming. You will get there. Don’t let the fun go out of it just because you’re not progressing as fast as you think you should. AND NEVER DRUM TO “GO ASK AUNT RHODY”!!!!

    • I hear you!

      And when I was 20 somehow I got my hands on an acoustic guitar and tried to learn how to play it. I remember feeling I was too old to learn!! I somehow also had the idea at that age that I wanted to be a naturopathic doctor – and also thought I was TOO OLD! I don’t even know how I knew such a profession existed.

      I have always felt “too old.” Well, I will be 63 in August and I am not going to let that stop me — this time.

      I don’t care if anyone else ever hears me drum. I want to be able to play along with any song I hear and like on Jango. I want this FOR ME!!

      Is there any way, any place you can take piano lessons now? I have not unpacked the very nice keyboard I bought myself a few years ago. I am so sound-traumatized because of the horrendous screaming violence of Mother’s verbal abuse, always accompanied by physical abuse, that I found I could not tolerate the SOUND of the keyboard much above middle C.

      Now I know I love the percussion — but haven’t let go of the keyboard because I sometimes HEAR songs and I would like to be able to pick them out and write them down. When I first got the keyboard I found I could teach myself to read music perfectly well. It isn’t that hard, really. All I had ever learned was what I was taught in one week of third grade – and I have never forgotten it. (Right along with learning in that same week the proper way to perform introductions between people.)

      It might seem silly – but I don’t think it is — to try a short, cheap keyboard even for kids. At least to teach yourself SOME OTHER SONG! Two to three octaves is quite a range for a beginner – I suspect. Just learning to read the music would be empowering!

      I think for some of us it is a kind of “soul calling” thing. Our SOUL wants to be involved with the music. It dawned on me after I wrote this post that I could switch Jango to my latin music station – the music that most quickly generates and inspires me – to get motivated to practice. An hour with sticks in my hand went by in an instant.

      I will NOT agree with myself to let other people stop me! This is MY PASSION!

      Reading your words popped a thought into my mind: I practiced 25 hours last week — and therefore I am EXTRA disappointed and discouraged from my last lesson ’cause what I practiced was not RIGHT.

      DISAPPOINTMENT is a terrible problem for me due to the nature of Mother’s psychotic abuse. She twisted my hopes and enthusiasms into deadly swords and then skewered me with my own homes. EVIL!!!!!!!

      This is helpful to recognize the disapointment in this current test of my willingness to let myself DRUM!!

      Thank you — and possibly????? Can you find a way to step over your disappointment and pick up this passion of yours? We deserve to THRIVE!!!

      • I bought my daughter a keyboard at a second-hand shop when she took beginning piano in college (and did awesome despite not ever having piano before, I did however spend quite a bit on flute lessons so maybe that helped), maybe I’ll ask if she still has it. I certainly wouldn’t have to worry about any silly recitals anymore!

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