Gather round, “Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
It takes a long time to get here. Almost 41 years, but I can tell you from this side, it’s worth the wait.
A new friend, let’s call her Mary, helped me to uncover a massive, mammoth, boulder in the way of my souls’ evolution. All she had to do was be willing to be my trigger. I can’t thank her enough.
I am a classically trained opera singer. I struggle with the talent. Growing up, I felt like my parents used my music as a form of currency with me. You see, I was supposed to be a cash cow. I was supposed to travel the world and rake in all the Maria Callas cash. When I decided that I wanted to do something “regular” like drop out of college because I could no longer afford it, and file bank statements at a private brokerage firm, they were different.
I’ve abandoned music and demanded acceptance in spite of it. There’s more to the deterioration of my extended family relationships, but that’s not what this is about.
I was on a call with Mary, and she very nonchalantly asked me if I was still singing. I said I wasn’t. She said that “I should because it brings people peace”. We talked about other things, and we weren’t on Skype long. After the call I was incredibly offended.
I tried to relay the conversation to my husband but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t put any of it into words. Mary didn’t say anything at all to offend, but inside I was reeling! Not even my husband could figure out why I was so irritated, and he’s always ready to side with me. When I repeated parts of our conversation outside of the trigger, he just shook his head and gave me the HUH?!
I couldn’t make sense of it either. I tried numerous times to make mountains out of molehills by scrutinizing what she said, turning it all inside out so I didn’t have to deal with the real issue.
I didn’t speak to Mary for three months. I spent three months of me mulling this over, chewing on it, and trying to get the colors to line up in my mental Rubik’s cube. A mutual friend of ours, let’s call her Suzanne, kept at me, saying that she knew I made a mistake about ghosting Mary. How Mary still asks about me, and how I should just let it go and try again. It only made me dig my heels in. I wasn’t ready to figure this out.
The opportunity to be triggered (it always comes down to whether I allow it or not, actually), was a great gift. I finally understand, as many times as I’ve heard it, that relationships are mirrors that hold up your reflection, warts and all.
I was able to hold the truth of myself in Mary’s reflection, that I was supremely talented and she had to tell me to share it with the world. When I finally allowed my defenses to come down, I saw myself in Mary’s reflection.
I became curious about the trigger as the catalyst for my reaction. Why was I irritated with Mary, exactly? What was it that she said that sent me over the edge? In this curiosity, there was freedom. Freedom from others’ (Hi Mom and Dad!) egotistical need to put me into their box (turns out that they do this because they are playing small, and don’t know how to do, or be, anything else.).
With this freedom, I relieved myself from years of caked on residue from my childhood and adolescence that I thought I dealt with. In this freedom, I realized that my fuck-ups became listen-ups, and I replaced my anger in that moment, with the calm recognition of my trigger and what lied beneath.
Acceptance of myself.
Next time this trigger presents itself, I will recognize it. I will put my defense weapons down, open my hands, and allow raw self-acceptance to wash over me. To feel what accepting myself is intended to make me feel. Safe.
Now I understand, on a deep, soul level, that music is my birthright and no one else’s commodity. My musical gifts have been lavished upon me to share with others.
And that’s why I chant so loudly in class now.