This week was a pretty impressive one for A. I have to say I’ve been really proud of her. She got out of her comfort zone, buried the hatchet with a former friend, handled a difficult situation with less stress than I imagined, and even gave herself a compliment or two. I’d call that a successful week!
A while back, A excitedly told me about a talent show at school. She decided she wanted to sing. I was happy she wanted to participate, as she’s backed away from her peers quite a bit lately and was desperately trying to embrace the life of a depressed, introspective loner. She made a song choice, and then promptly forgot all about the need for any form of practice. About two weeks before the show she realized there was no way she could sing the song she had picked. Oh, who was she kidding anyway, she couldn’t sing, everyone would laugh at her, it would be a disaster and she should back out. I agreed that she wasn’t ready to perform the song she had originally chosen, but did not agree on all the other counts. We talked (I nagged) about the need to do things for yourself and not care what others thought. We talked about her need to put herself out there and conquer her fears. We talked about how lovely her voice was, if she would only believe it – and what’s more, we talked about if you love singing as much as she does, maybe it doesn’t matter what you sound like anyway. Do something for the sheer joy of it.
She came home from school a couple days later and announced that her teacher refused to allow her to drop out of the talent show. “You tried to drop out?” I wanted to know. “Weelllll….” was the only answer I got to that one, before she shifted the subject. “She did let me change my song though. I figured I’d just better sing one I know really well.”
The big night came and we gathered in the gym to watch the grade school and middle school talent. When it was time for A to go on, her teacher introduced her and then said she wanted to share something that A had told her about the song she was going to sing. She announced that A told her she wanted to sing a song that was special to her because it was the song that her mom always sang to her when she was little. She told her that when she was scared or sad, her mom would sing this song to her and it would make her feel better, and tonight she wanted to sing it for her mom. Well, that put me in tears! And then my girl took the stage and began to sing, ‘El Shaddai.’ How many nights I sang that! As a toddler, she would wake up from a bad dream and say, “Mommy, sing me the song.” Some nights she still asks me to. And she did beautifully. I could tell she was nervous, her voice wasn’t as strong as usual, but it was clear and pure. She couldn’t hear the music well, so she wasn’t with it the whole time, but it was hardly noticeable. As she sang, I realized I was not the only person in the audience with tears in their eyes. I was so proud of her for putting herself out there – to be brave and true to herself. Even through her nerves, she still sounded fantastic. (I could be biased…but too many people told me how shocked they were when they heard her!)
Then Friday she told me that she had been asked to sing the song at the church that day. She said she “forgot” to tell me that they had asked her to. She said it went really good. I couldn’t believe that she FORGOT to tell me. No, I wouldn’t have wanted to be there or anything. Saturday I saw a teacher from her school. she said that A had done SO well at the talent show, but then when she sang the song again on Friday, oh my goodness, she just blew everyone away. She said you could tell she wasn’t as nervous and her voice was stronger and she stayed with the music, and that she had quite a number of people in tears. Nooo…I wouldn’t have wanted to be there or anything. Still, I was so proud of her for doing it. She doesn’t believe she is good at anything. She loves to sing, but doesn’t believe she has a good voice. She at least said, after the talent show, that she “sounded pretty good.” She told me that after she sang at church people started coming up to her telling her what a good job she did, and she didn’t know how to handle the compliments.
Friday afternoon was a bit sketchy. She hasn’t seen her father or stepmother in almost six months. (the arrangement was made in the best interest of A) She visits her grandparents pretty often though, but Friday afternoon as I drove in their driveway, there was her father. She was shocked and started to panic. He was driving down the drive, so she thought he was leaving. I stopped the car and she bounded out of the car and up the porch steps before I could stop her. She swung open her grandparent’s door and almost ran smack into her stepmother. She didn’t know what to do. She just spun around and ran back to the car, yanking me with her. I waved at her grandmother, motioned that I would call her, and we drove away. A sat stiffly in the seat next to me, fighting the tears. I didn’t know how to exactly broach the subject, but I gently told her that she had to know that there was always a possibility that they would drop by unexpectedly and she would run into them. There was always a chance of seeing them in any store or restaurant. She said she knows, it was just the first time, and she didn’t know what to do. Of course her stepmother called me, a little upset, I believe, at A’s behavior. I calmly told her that A had been surprised and hadn’t known what to do. She hadn’t said anything rude, she had simply turned and fled. I told her that things were still very hard for A and she wasn’t ready for how it felt to run into them. I wasn’t going to apologize for how my daughter felt. (long story…years worth…sad situation that I wish were different, but I will do what is necessary to protect my daughter.) What impressed me, was that although A was upset for a while, it didn’t ruin her evening. She didn’t dwell on it, or cry for hours. She shook it off. Or at least seemed to. Sometimes she does try to hide when she’s obsessing about something, but last night, she genuinely seemed okay. That is HUGE. I was very proud of her. She didn’t let the fear, anxiety or depression take over. That is most definitely a victory. A huge one.
She buried the hatchet with a former friend that hurt her, even giving him a high five and congratulating him on his performance in the talent show. I was glad to see it. No, they won’t make it to friend status again, but at least I know that she has truly let go of the hurt.
This week she has smiled, danced, laughed and cried. She has sung her heart out, conquered some fears, and on one occasion, even looked in a mirror and said, “hey, I don’t look too bad.” It’s something. It’s everything.
No one gets through life unscathed, but it’s time for A to let go, disentangle herself from the fear, anger, depression and sadness and learn to live. It’s time to heal.