Something that almost no one knows about me is that I like to sing, and that I have a really good singing voice. I used to sing with a choir, but that kind of singing didn’t really touch me deep down, though I thought the songs were lovely and I enjoyed singing them. Also, my voice was not drowned out by the others, but was part of a greater whole in which my own voice could not be individually sussed out. I liked it that way.
I’m so self-conscious that I’m even afraid of expressing myself when I’m BY myself. I sing in my truck when I’m driving all the time, but the music is usually loud enough that I either can’t hear myself very well, or my voice is part of the music, like when I was in the choir. My voice reduces in volume automatically when the music’s volume goes down. I’m afraid to hear myself for some reason. It’s the same reason I can’t dance. There’s something about that kind of free and open expression that makes me very afraid. I think it’s because those kinds of expression must be full-on. You can’t be fettered by self-consciousness or doubt or anything else negative in order to do those things to their fullest extent. And for whatever reason, I am severely hampered by shyness and fear when it comes to things like dancing and singing. I can do them to a certain extent when I’m inebriated, which makes me understand why so many performers are substance abusers. It’s the only way they can get up there and do their thing.
I really want to be the kind of person who can dance and sing and not worry about what others think, including myself. I wish I knew why I scrutinize myself so intensely to the extent that I can’t sing and dance just with myself. That seems stupid to me, but the part of me that is afraid to do those things doesn’t think it’s stupid. It thinks I just don’t understand, and I don’t. Maybe that’s some other suppressed aspect of my childhood trying to free itself from time’s chains.
I also think it’s because I’m afraid of the attention that I know I will get if I express myself that way. I know I can be amazing, and it fills me with fear to imagine having people watch me or hear me in that way, no matter how much they’re enjoying it. That part of me wants to be free, but I don’t know how to let it go.
Singing and dancing aren’t the only things that I can’t or don’t do because of my own severe self-consciousness. I know how to play some instruments very well (or at least I used to), but I was never able to fully develop my playing skill because I was afraid of other people hearing me, and after time that seeped into my own mind, making it difficult to even hear myself. Maybe that fear of dancing, playing, and singing is just a manifestation of the same scrutiny I put my art through. So much so that even now I look at pieces of my art that make others gasp, and all I see are mistakes. I can’t see the beauty through my own perfectionism.
Also, when I think about what it might feel like to dance and sing, I want to cry. Like there’s something inside that will be unleashed by doing those things, and I’m afraid of what it might be or for others to see it. Maybe that’s that last ball of sadness that still lives deep inside me. I used to think of my sadness as a bottomless well from which bad feelings were constantly upwelling. I feared they would never stop and I would have to wallow in my past for my entire life. Well, in recent times, I’ve begun to see the bottom of the well, or at least know that it’s there. Writing down my life story had a great deal to do with that. Seeing it all laid out and dragged from the proverbial closet put a lot of things in perspective. So did drawing out the path of my life as it related to spirituality, my first task from Spiritual Nomad.
But there’s still this knot of sadness whose nature I can’t quite put my finger on. I suspect it’s not based in anything but habit. It’s the manifestation of the soldiers I stationed around my soul in order to protect it from bad people and bad things. They’re very good at their job and have done it for so long that they can’t see anything but their original orders, like that Japanese soldier they found hiding on a Pacific island who would not deviate from his orders until the Prime Minister of Japan ordered him to stand down. They also praised him for his tenacity and patriotism. I’m trying to do the same thing with the guards in my mind. Their job is done now. Danger has passed. But they don’t know what to do with themselves now, and so that ball of sadness sits there, very well guarded by now misguided mental soldiers. Until it’s gone, I will feel choked.
I wish I knew how to tell them to stand down. I wish I knew what to tell them to make them feel that their job is over but that they are appreciated. That their protection has become a hindrance in the absence of ‘war’.
That they are keeping part of me caged.