Monday, January 25, 2010

Music to Drown out the World?

I have often noticed that when I’m feeling stressed out, putting really loud techno in my ears or turning on the TV is a remedy for it. Now when I say stressed, I’m referring to things in my life that I feel I cannot control because they involve other people. I’m not suggesting that I’m a control freak, but I have to wonder why I sometimes I can’t shelter myself a little better from the way other people affect my personal well-being. For example, last night I was singing and a couple of older men who are often out to see me when I sing waited for me to go on break. I ran to the rest room and wanted to simply walk by with a quick hello but they wouldn’t let me do that. Well! How silly that sounds! Wouldn’t let me? They aren’t the boss of me!…Okay…you go girl…but “girl” sort of sputtered out of her “going” when she realized that they weren’t going to allow her to walk by. I nicely said that the music was too loud for me to speak over and after a long day at work and a late night of singing, my next set would be hard to get through if I continued to scream to them over the music. Reasonable right?…I guess not. I turned to walk away and the one guy said, “So how is your New Year going?”…I was baffled and replied quietly, “It’s going well thank you. I just can’t talk over the music because I’m a little tired and can’t scream in a conversation and then have to sing for 2 more hours.”…He smiled and started to talk about how his New Year was going and got deeply into the politics of the educational system, health care reform and about how Obama was negatively affecting the structure of every aspect of the country….um…yeah…but I can barely speak anymore because I’ve just used all of my energy explaining why I can’t be in this conversation. I felt like I was going to burst into tears. It was like going to McDonalds and saying, “Yes. I’d like a cheeseburger” and having the tattooed teenager at the cash register with the picture coded buttons saying, “No. I’ll get you a diet coke instead.”…Ok…the kid was probably right. I didn’t really need a cheeseburger and shouldn’t have even asked for it.

This is obviously something that I struggle with. I don’t want to be rude to people and I do my best to be kind, but by the time I have repeated my wishes over and over with little or no regard for my feelings on the other person’s part, I feel angry and usually end up being rude to them anyway. That’s not right. I never stay mad though. I immediately dismiss my feelings by changing the channel in my mind to something else. No room to feel angry, sad, frustrated or hurt right? But is there?…If I turn up the music to drown out the feeling of being out of control, am I just burying it alive?…Actually it sort of sounds like a good idea to me…but we need to remember that I’m the one who is apparently not expressing myself clearly so my advice on this topic is likely extremely bad! Yeah…have a bowl of pasta…go to the gym…turn up the music…They all seem like logical choices for avoiding an uncomfortable personal thought or two. As a matter of fact, I’ve gotten through many years using this approach. It definitely works in terms of fixing the big picture! - But what about the close up? If on a daily basis someone makes me feel like what I want doesn’t matter, even if I have expressed my needs clearly, have I fixed the problem? …If I feel like I’m going to burst into tears when I’m doing someone a favor and they want to change the time to a less convenient time for me to accommodate themselves AND I ALLOW THEM TO, has my coping mechanism really worked efficiently?…MALFUNCTION!… MAYDAY!… I NEED A BLOCK OF CHEESE!… I CAN’T GET THE MUSIC LOUD ENOUGH TO DROWN OUT MY NEGATIVE ENERGY!…uh oh…that can’t be good. I’m so screwed!

So then…what is the answer to making a permanent change? I have to think that this is a process of self-enlightenment that I will likely fail at for awhile since it is in my nature to allow others to affect me in this way. Again…failure is another thing that doesn’t exactly sit well with me! AH!…delete…Where’s my ipod?…Wait though… I do think that stopping myself from turning on the music, eating, or going to the gym for the few minutes it takes to figure out what I’m really feeling might be a step in the right direction towards validating my right to feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still crank the music at the gym, but I will do it because it makes me feel good, not because it makes me forget that I don’t!