Celebrating their success is a great thing. You get to hear about how people you like and people you love got to do what they were meant to do and excel at it. You can laugh over their stories you can feel the pride of accomplishment. And if you are a person without children that pride and accomplishment has to go somewhere else so… If you have other relatives or friends who you are proud of who do amazing things if you take time to celebrate that you get positive vibes out of it yourself. I have two family members I’ve been watching with pride since they were children and I continue to get great joy out of watching them succeed.
But. In this world where we only put our best foot forward on social media , if you see someone successful you’re only getting that successful side to them, and you get a misleading picture that that’s the only part of them. And if you have disabilities and medical challenges and body issues, I’m not going to lie it’s very difficult to celebrate someone who appears at first glance to be perfect. Able-bodied good looking with the perfect career. You work to maintain that supportive stance with them and it gets harder. Until you’re open with each other usually on a one to one basis and you realize that that perfect person on Facebook isn’t. They’re struggles might not be your struggles but they do have them. they have cracks in the armor. There are bad days for them. Its not that you’re happy to see the bad days , it’s that being human has to show through. When you see some common ground it is easier to love the uncommon things they do.
First, to be clear….I’m not mad, mopey, sulking, bitter…whatever about the situation I’m going to write about…but I think it’s kinda interesting that I’m not. And how I got here.
So, cousins…don’t come up to me and think you have to change your tune(s) LOL. not at all.
The stuff I’m good at, writing, singing, acting, comedy….isn’t known for being a steady, consistent means of support.
So, if I have family that did manage that?
There are two roads I could have gone about that.
Declined to see their plays. Withdrew from any discussions about their music, their auditions, their costumes, their schedules…what they like and don’t like about their director the particular part…etc. And, when I did think about their successes, always view them through the prism of, “Well, I didn’t get to do this as a lifelong fun thing…and I should have…so I will now sulk about it.”
Want to see their plays. Get peeved when I have to miss them. Be gleeful when I get to see them, and proud and raucous in my applause at the end, because these are the two people I root for most in the world. genuinely invest in their rising tide of fun and music…be an ear.
The decision point on this, of course, was when I started to realize that one of them would make this the best hobby ever, while holding down a day job with benefits…and the other would actually act and sing for a living…
At that point, I did have this inner dialogue, for about 38 seconds, and was done worrying about it afterward:
“*I* can sing! *I* can act! Why *is* it that they get a shot and I didn’t? Their parents supported their dream!…” And then, as a friend of mine reminded me last month, I found reasons to stop whining.
My Mom was struggling to raise me in the midst of my dad’s drinking. My independence was their first priority.
In addition, I think the idea of a woman with disabilities making a living in the arts was so far out of the realm of the general public’s thinking in say 1972 when I was eleven or so…there was no kind of mental ‘sign’ that would have said to my parents, “This one’s good enough to actually make her living at it…” They were pleased enough just to have gotten me mainstreamed…
So, when my cousin TheRealJournalist, got to play King Richard in “The Lion in Winter…I relished watching him do it, not just because he’s part of my family, but because that’s become my second favorite film ever…
And with my cousin who sings at Disney, there’s this odd paradoxical thing that makes it even easier to enjoy her success for it’s own sake.
She has this gorgeous controlled bell-toned soprano that she can do anything with…it speaks of the years of training she took to craft her voice into this amazing instrument … that sounds nothing like my voice.
Even if I had also been successful, mine would have been as it is, a rougher second-alto-nearly-tenor, with more than a little Judy Garland about it…untrained….I would have kept the unfinished sound on purpose then, since my life experience tells me that ‘happily ever after,’ is a dangerously naive place to be…even as my singing cousin seems to have managed that very thing.
And she admires my voice. All the time…once at the kitchen table, she said… “Like chocolate. It’s just amazing!”
And she freakin’ sings for Disney. So, if someone who sings for the Mouse thinks you’re good…
I suppose you are.
The point of all this reminiscing is:
If you can’t get behind a friend or family member’s triumphs, can’t examine and then put aside your own road not taken…it’s you who lose. It’s not an easy thing to do, but the positives are worth it!
Why would you want to miss out on fun like that?
So, this past friday, I was part of a rehearsal dinner party. The bride sings for Disney at Epcot Center as part of Liberty singers at Epcot Center.
Karen gave the wedding party gifts. (tradition and all that), but she told a little story about each person’s connection to her. and why it was important that they be part of her celebration….ending with a terribly terribly sentimental speech about her brother.
Along the way, she did stop at my chair and tell a story about me:
(This won’t be an exact quote , just a close paraphrase of what Karen said.)
“I remember the first time I heard my cousin sing. It was at this place in Canada that we used to go every summer, and one night they had karaoke, and she sang a song called ‘Desperado.’ I was listening and watching, and I thought: I want to sing like that!”
Um, ok…I kinda knew most of the family love to sing and all that, and I was one of them, but I had no idea that my song that night made her want to ‘sing like that…’ She’s had an amazing career so far, singing for Disney and elsewhere…
Voices carry, I suppose.
I’m having a quandary regarding a cousin’s future wedding. She has asked me to sing a wonderful ballad that was y used at my wedding. And I don’t think I can do it. I’ve tried to rehearse it and I always get the same results.
I have a slight weird post-traumatic stress thing, which I have written about here before.
If I try singing vocal music of 1955 to 1993, it makes me choke up or cry.
I don’t want to cast any cloud over her day.
When I sing the songs of the fifties, I end up crying about my parents and what I perceive to be some serious wasted potential.
When I try to sing songs from the seventies and late sixties I cry about not being young anymore.
When I sing songs from the eighties up until 1993, the period during which I was married, my husband developed his terminal illness, I developed cancer and survived it and then he passed away, well that’s fairly self-explanatory.
I am going to ask her to try to find a song with a post 1993 copyright date because those don’t affect me . Or, something older, something from the swing big-band era because those don’t affect me either. They remind me of my grandparents but in a non-upsetting sort of way. I’ve never discussed this particular aspect of my difficulties with her so she doesn’t know.
I really don’t want to upset her, but since she’s asked me to sing in front of a bunch of professional singer bridesmaids I want to do it. My competitive spirit is up and running. I want them to hear me sing. So I will probably ask her carefully how to do it.
Anyway the wedding’s close to a year away so there’s plenty of time to figure all of that out.
also supposed to be here now, and supposed to be here for some unknown amount of future time.
I’m tired. I’m tired of a particular bit of drama that centers around my arrival on the planet as an accidental event.
Yes, I know. I wasn’t planned for by either parent. Yes, I know, I wasn’t sought after. Yes, I know that my late father castigated my mother about being unable to deliver an able bodied boychild…instead delivering a girlchild with impairments.
My mother feeling ‘stuck’ in a lousy marriage to a lousy guy does stem from my arrival on the planet. If she needs help to wrestle through the damage he did I cannot be her therapist.
But I’m sick to death of taking any blame for that.
I’m pretty clear that as regards the wider world and the bigger picture, I’m supposed to have been here.
Oh, there’s a list
Reasons I’m supposed to have been here
Chipmunks up north wouldn’t have gotten the peanuts I fed ’em on vacation.
My first grade version of the ‘Sound of Music’ would have had some other Maria.
My whole street wouldn’t have heard my first attempt at public speaking (at age 5)
My father would have acted like a jerk for much longer….since after about age 10, I refused to leave him alone about his drinkin’
Belinda at gimp camp would have continued to beg other people to do things she could do herself.
Me, dancing…a necessary exercise in pushing the envelope. Also, one of my boyfriends wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun.
The mutual scorn of me and the general public at my high school (my friends, of course were exempt)
And those friendships that I made and have kept…still vital, pleasant things.
Most dissed me because I was disabled, and I held them in great contempt because they were stupid.
College, much less disrespect, but much more alchohol…And why in the hell did some of my dorm mates come to me for romantic advice? (Me, who believed at the time I was to remain the Perpetual Virgin?) The real friendships I made, though, they remain interesting and full of good things.
Customers at my various jobs would still be wandering around wondering what their bills or Explanations of Benefits meant.
I believe very strongly my late husband would have had a shorter, sadder, more difficult time of it without me.
My father, same notation.
I would not have learned so much or had as many good times without the friends I made in my thirties, even if they aren’t friends anymore. Unless my memory decieves, I helped them out some too.
One ex boyfriend really did need to be verbally smacked on the Internet. (It should have happened as early as 1992, but I did not know him then.)
Actually putting on the superhero costume and helping another friend leave a disturbing past behind.
My forties, my first decade as a political animal. Actually put my shoulder into it and pushed my Congresscritters and others via email.
Short version: It no longer matters that my arrival was accidental.
I’m supposed to be here.