Friday, April 6, 2012

Four Strings Attached

A sad, dusty little friend in my closet is going to get a cleaning, polish, brand new high quality strings, and some personal attention.  I sold some art supplies and bought some professional strings.

Honor Orchestra

Me:  age 17  (not a flattering photo, but I don't have many).  

I was once a girl who played her violin for hours, sometimes as many as four or five hours at a time.  My rough, calloused left hand fingertips were often wrapped in bandages or a soft glove when I wasn't playing.  I wondered if people thought I was trying to pull off a Michael Jackson-like fashion statement.  The glove was my attempt at protecting and healing my raw, sometimes bloody, fingers.  I was playfully teased about it in school, but I didn't really care.  I actually kind of enjoyed being the weird girl with the blue glove.

Those callouses protected my heart and fed my soul.  I played because I had to.  Because I needed it to survive.  That need was almost biological.  I raged, I cried, I celebrated.  This all sounds so hackneyed and cheesy, but it's also very true.  I lived for those strings and that cheap little violin.  I still don't understand why I put it down.  I got a scholarship to play in the Orchestra at Arizona State University.  Not an easy feat.  Not at all.  Instead of being proud of accomplishing something pretty big at a pretty young age, in spite of everything, I despised myself when I wasn't able to make it past 5th chair.

The one thing that helped me survive my life and brought me so much peace and happiness became a huge source of self hatred.  I thought my violin was my future but that dream began to die and I fought hard to protect that dream. I practiced and practiced and practiced, never advancing past 5th chair no matter how hard I tried.  I just wasn't good enough.  I couldn't meet my self imposed standards.  I began to play less and less, eventually putting it away for good.  Why?  I have absolutely no idea.  I really don't.  A college scholarship for playing the violin is awesome.  Why couldn't I see that?  5th chair in an orchestra full of musicians far more privileged and experienced than me is pretty awesome too.  Why couldn't I see that?  I threw away an incredibly good thing for nothing.    

I yearn to feel those vibrations under my chin again, but I am so afraid too.  It doesn't take much to feed my self hatred.  If I am not sublime at something, I become painfully obsessed with it, throwing all of myself into learning and improving.  I work desperately hard, attacking myself when I can't meet my impossible standards.  I beat the crap out of myself.  I tear myself down so much it becomes nearly impossible to get back up again.  It becomes too arduous and exhausting and I am eventually defeated.  Defeated and heartbroken.  I hate this about myself.  I don't know how to change it.  I talk about it in therapy a lot.  It deprives me of quite a lot in life.  It is paralyzing.  It keeps me from things I love.  It keeps me from accomplishing anything in life.

I am taking that little black case off the top shelf in the back of my closet, cracking it open and saying hello to a long lost friend.  Hopefully it doesn't kill me when I can barely squeak out Mary Had a Little Lamb or worse-- Hot Crust Buns.