Monday, July 14, 2014. Forty eight degrees seems a little chilly to me for a near-mid-July sunny morning in Fargo. I needed my winter down jacket to sit outside on my cement slab to watch the sun light the tips of the cattails like candles. And here comes the certain puffs of north wind gusting at my back. Glaciers soon to follow?
Never mind. I am trying hard to be a better sport about all of this. The past few days could not have behaved themselves more perfectly. I appreciate. I am grateful.
Now I ponder the snippet of a dream I forced myself to pay attention to enough to remember something from it as my alarm sounded. A woman who had been quite large. When I left my friend. When I came back. She had SHRUNK not a a little though she was little. So little now!
She had fallen in love during my absence and was soon to marry. As her friend I wanted to sew her a wedding dress. HOW! She was small as a baby! There she was sprawled, barely visible tiny arms, miniature hands, lost in the great folds of her clothes that were now SO BIG! A doll?
Who knows? I got very little across the dream threshold with me. Just enough to know the dream colors were vivid nearly beyond my waking imagination!
And to know that when I am dreaming things are moving FASTER than the speed of light. Unencumbered things are seen, felt, known, accomplished, changed in such teensy degrees of time….
Time. Time creeps into my thoughts in increasingly different ways as I proceed day by day, week by week — my life lived in between my Saturday at 4:30 in the afternoon drumming lessons. In between. I live. I practice.
Yes, I learn drumming, but more significantly to me (Is such a thing possible?) I learn more and more about HOW I am in the world as a trauma changed person with what I now know is a nearly entirely dissociative process of living. I experience this as I meticulously (thanks to the professional demands of my expert teacher) train every cell of my body involved in the process how to accomplish the mental-physical skill required to advance “as a drummer” into what may well — actually — in significant ways — be my NEW life.
Once I was NOT a drummer? And then I AM a drummer? Who WILL be a drummer?
I am BECOMING. Like a caterpillar BECOMING a butterfly?
I have become — evidently — more fragile post-my-MAJOR-move north last October — than I have ever been in my life. The line between my being OK and being a MESS is so very, very fine these days. And mostly I do not know where that line is and I mostly don’t know how to recognize myself when I cross it. Going both ways….
BUT – never before have I had access to a process that puts my dissociation patterns SMACK into my conscious awareness! Left arm-hand-fingers = right brain activation. Right arm-hand-fingers = left brain activation. How strange. One day one half of my body behaves quite nicely so that I spend an entire practice session trying to get my errant side to behave itself just as well! LOTS of concentration. LOTS of practice.
Next day? My reality seems entirely reversed! My reality switches sides. Betraying me? In my mounted frustration last week I really DID try to beat my sticks hard enough on my practice pad to break them. I guess it takes a lot to break a good drumstick. I have to try harder?
No. I decided (of course) to continue to engage cooperation toward my eventual aim of learning to be a most excellent drummer!
BUT – because I was “upset” quite a bit last week (for complicated reasons that don’t really matter ’cause all this really is – is LIFE) – I decided to let myself know that FOR ME not only is it a reality that every drumming movement has to be practiced, taught to, each part of my being completely at every single speed slow-to-fast, I – being the unique person I was built to be by 18 years of severe abuse trauma – must go through this entire process which each separate “identity without an identity” that I have (is me?).
These identities that never got to form themselves into separate identities (or personalities) within me in the psychotic hell Mother kept me within are extremely notable in their in-and-out process as I practice drumming. They have no names. They seem to have no face, no ears or eyes or legs or arms except those of my ONE body, no special consciousness. I know they “are here” when I practice because they each have a different skill ability with my body-brain’s effort to LEARN this complex skill set.
There are times I am drumming away and all of a sudden EVERYTHING just stops. Out of nowhere. No reason I can detect. My arms frozen in midair with NO idea what to do next. How bizarre, scary, troubling, AGGRAVATING, mysterious is THAT?
So, on this index card I wrote on July 8th during an especially difficult practice session I tried to identify BY FEELING each time something “shifted” within me as it demonstrated itself in an interjected shift in my drumming:
– DISCOURAGED SELF
– EAGER SELF (crushed)
– TRYING SELF (fails) (stupid)
– FIGHTING FOR LIFE SELF (threatened with oblivion)
– limbo self
– numb self
– confused self
– overwhelmed self
(am feeling really lost without the natural world to ground and sustain me — nature and gardening)
(big trouble without privacy living in an apartment, in a city)
(big trouble with noise and light pollution)
– drumming — feeling nothing will ever get any better no matter how hard I try
Now, once I reached that last awareness and wrote it down on my card — feeling nothing will ever get any better no matter how hard I try — I stopped writing. This feeling seems to underlie, surround, permeate, overwhelm everything I know and did know about myself in my 18-year imprisonment with mentally ill Mother.
That is a stand-alone statement for me.
What do I DO with it?
Not much. Put it here into this post. AND do what I have ALWAYS done: Move on.
SO…. This past Saturday something yet again tipped me across whatever that line between nearly OK or relative OKness into “Uh-oh! Here I go again!” I learned from another lesson day recently that when I am “upset” I CANNOT perform in my lesson. I profoundly CANNOT.
THIS past Saturday I decided to risk informing my teacher about my experiences. I told him the overriding arch this drumming is passing under continually, like water under a bridge, is MUSIC THERAPY. I asked for confidentiality for EVERYTHING that happens during our lessons. No talking to peers or students or friends or anyone else about anything to do with ME.
My teacher, doctorate percussionist that he is, is brilliant. He has evidently studied an impressive, vast array of subjects. He knew very well what I was talking about.
Of course when I am “in multiplication mode” – HA! HA! — Dissociating against my will or control — going through phases/stages of faceting like a diamond — some parts of me hear things (when I am feeling under stress/duress/distress/pressure) that other parts of me know nothing about. I HATE admitting this is so, but lately I can look back at my entire life and see how this has been happening to me in some ways and in some situations all of my life — I can see these patterns.
For example, even talking with my adult daughters about their childhoods, about places and situations that happened in this geological area, they are sometimes astounded that large chunks of time where there SHOULD be memories are gone. Simply GONE. Like someone picked up my briefcase as I waited at an airport terminal for a flight into the next stage of my life and ran off with it. With THEM.
So, while I DO remember much of last lesson’s conversation there is much I do not. I have a commitment to these lessons. I am increasingly trusting that if something is really important on any level it/I/we will get back to it again in a future lesson. Circling. Spiraling. Like a DNA spiral dance forward in time.
What I do remember is my teacher saying that having “identities” simply MEET one another is — what? Healing? Helpful? Necessary? Inevitable? Possible, desirable? Dr. Brett didn’t offer any evaluative statement at all.
By beginning to write my notes during drumming practice this was exactly the direction I hoped to follow. The process of my being able to IDENTIFY these identities without identity feels very hopeful to me. Even exciting, though also both mysterious and magical. MEET myself coming and going – DRUMMING!
I get goosebumps thinking about it.
Some part of me powerfully wanted/needed to know what the progression of my training is going to be. At what point will I actually NEED an INSTRUMENT?
I smile when I think about the fact I am deeply involved in learning an instrument — without having the instrument. This drumming practice pad is now secured to a $50 super stable stand. That’s all I need for months to come.
But I HAD to know the process of this progress. “Where is this all going?” Brett explained to me that the techniques for the “double stroke roll” that are currently being mastered over the next months are the “tree trunk” from which two main branches of drumming techniques will grow for me (for all drummers). The double stroke uses LARGE motor and FINE motor muscles/brain connections. One line of techniques will mostly use the large and the other will use the small skill-sets.
Meanwhile I am supposed to get perfect technique/form on the double stroke as I eventually get fast. Very fast. So fast that at present I cannot imagine I will ever get there!
Am I TRYING? You bet.
Will I get there? My teacher assures me I will.
I asked him, “How often do drummers actually go THAT FAST?” (64th notes or faster)
“It depends on whether or not they CAN go that fast, ” Brett replied. “If a drummer CAN go that fast (she/he) WILL go that fast — whenever they feel like it. If they CAN’T go that fast — well — they never will.”
I have a long road to go, a long row to hoe. BUT I am hopeful, excited: This is possible! Every identity-without-an-identity can show up during the process and I will not be daunted. I will patiently train each and every single one of them how to drum each technique to perfection.
When I get well down this road — oh how PROUD I will be! ALL of us will meet one another in some way with those drumsticks in our/MY hands!
What I know right now is that I cannot proceed down this pathway of learning without these “parts” of me being involved because drumming is SUCH a finely tuned, finely trained physical and mental and spiritual process.
Drumming is my gift to myself.
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