I know that I am usually pretty upbeat (some might even say "quirky," though I don't know about that).
But today I'm not feeling very upbeat. Or quirky.
I am remembering back to the time when Matt & I were first thinking and praying about starting a family.
The one prayer I most frequently uttered was to ask God to help me be a good mother, and to bless us with precious, healthy children and a house full of joy (and free from the yelling grew up with).
I've been thinking about that time for about two days now. And I keep coming back to the feeling that in answer to our prayers... (guard your eyes if you're sensitive...)
That in answer to our prayers, God shit on us and then had a big ole laugh.
Because none of that stuff happened.
Instead, one of our children has a disability, and everything has to be a fight, an argument. And instead of being flexible and listening to reason, he screeches and throws tantrums. And even though I swore I would never yell at my kids the way I was used to parents yelling, that's about all I do with this one and I feel powerless to stop that. And so our home is not full of joy; it is full of yelling, arguing & screeching. The younger one is beginning to pick up on the older one's terrible behaviors and I don't see any divine intercession taking place at all. Instead, I feel like God pooped on me, laughed & then walked away throwing a casual, "Yeah. Good luck with that," over his shoulder. And He hasn't called or written since.
I'm sorry. I know you hate the language, and honestly, so do I.
But the feeling is so big right now, I have no other words to describe it.
I'm taking a graduate music therapy class right now. Technically, I'm a non-matriculating student. (I love that word... it's fun to say!) This semester, the class is ethics. Well, it's actually:
"Legal and Ethical Issues in Music Therapy."
I know. It sounds like it should be a non-narcotic sleep aid, right?
It actually hasn't been too bad. The professor is really good at facilitating interesting discussions. Now that we are talking about supervision (that is, supervising music therapy practicum students and interns) our discussions have taken an interesting turn.
We talked this evening about different approaches to supervising college-age students who have finished their coursework, but are not yet professionals. It's a fascinating period of personal & professional growth, and there are many different approaches to shepherding an intern through this time.
The approach I tend to use the most is the verbal approach. This approach is characterized by discussions, conversations and verbal analysis of sessions, behaviors, breakthroughs, etc. with clients.
The approach that I tend to avoid is the more experiential approach in which music therapy supervisors and supervisees actually use music therapy techniques to process events and sessions that occur with clients. This approach is characterized by a lot of musical improvisation.
Some of the other students in class (many of whom are actually undergrads) reported that they might prefer the experiential approach over the verbal approach. They were, after all, musicians first.
[Cue can-opener sound effects]
This is the part where my can came open and all the worms wriggled out.
I used to love improvisation. I actually used to be very good at it. For a time, I planned to be a jazz musician. As my job. Until my mom pointed out that at some point I would undoubtedly need things like health insurance and money for rent. (After this she pretty well demanded that I declare a major which would lead to a steady paycheck. Consequently, the first question she asked when I came home a week later & told her I wanted to be a music therapist was, "Is that a real job?")
But I digress.
I loved improv. It came as naturally as eating cupcakes.
Then I got robbed at gunpoint while working the counter at a small video store, and although I walked away physically unharmed... that part of me, that musician who rocked at improv & song writing... well, it just withered up and died. I lost all ability to improvise even the shortest solo. I could still play music that somebody else had written, but I just couldn't express myself that way at all anymore.
It was replaced by post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and depression.
The PTSD is pretty well gone, although I still struggle a bit with the other two.
But I realized, as I was listening to those young musicians talking, that I never bothered to try & fix that broken musician in me. As a wife, mom & music therapist, it's easy (really easy) to turn all of my attention outward, to the people who will take all I offer & then ask for more.
I think this has worked for me because the idea of exploring that part of me is frightening. What if I can't get that back? The possibility of failure here is potentially devastating.
Believe it or not, I've been able to get by without improvising very much at all. I write many of my own songs for therapy, but that music is for teaching, not for expressing.
So this class was supposed to be a completely cerebral experience. I was taking it just to further my education and cognitively challenge myself, and it has opened up a can of worms for me. It's not exactly a huge emotional issue. But I do keep thinking about it.
What do you think? Have you ever felt like you lost a piece of yourself & wondered if you could get it back? Did you try? How did you do it?
Matt has returned, and that is quite possibly the best blessing of the last week. He took a trip with my dad & one of my sisters; they rode their bicycles the entire Katy Trail in six days. That's 225 miles that took them halfway across the state of Missouri.
Life has calmed down & returned to the normal level of semi-chaos.
Here are just a few of the many blessings I counted during the last two weeks:
137. Walking up to a whispered birthday wish from my son.
139. Quiet, calm weekday mornings.
141. Developing a new understanding of who my son is.
143. Knowing that God made my son exactly the way he is meant to be.
145. Birthday flowers.
148. My toddler's joy when I pick him up at the end of the day.
150. The way music reaches a child with a severe disability.