This couldn’t be more apt: I am exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally. Yesterday, I felt so drained that anxiety flooded back, albeit briefly, and I was decidedly weepy. Something posted on Facebook was a stark reminder of a truth I often gloss over to my peril: If we constantly put others first, we are sending out the message that we come second.
So why am I so knackered? Very simple: My tendency to over-commit, to push the boat of energy far out to sea, has, once again, caught up with me. Already cast in ‘In the Shadow of the Tor’ – which will be performed this afternoon – I have subsequently taken on roles in a Beltane ritual drama and a Mummers’ Play, both due to show tomorrow on either side of the Dragon Procession to the Tor.
When you add the huge number of rehearsals this has entailed, as well as the delightful but powerful emotional effect of last weekend’s Feathered Seer Workshop in Derbyshire, you will understand why I am a tad below par.
But there is more to it than that. This week has revealed something dark and sad, though well-meant, in my own character: The way I, mostly unconsciously, see myself as almost a second class citizen – a bit-part; a support act; a servant whose job it is to do all the little tasks no one else will touch with a barge-pole; a Mother to all; a listener, soother, comforter. In all of this, I often put my own needs last and carry on way past the boundaries of sense. I often allow people to take advantage of me because I fear they won’t see any value in me if I deviate from being the all-purpose maternal helper.
This was triggered by something that happened at the Workshop. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will be aware that my musical skills – and, in particular, my violin-playing – were scorned and sneered at, and I have had a massive inability to play my instruments with any confidence ever since.
During one of the rituals on Saturday, the Shaman handed me the drum stick – and it was thus that I discovered I was to be the drummer. It was a vast honour. I was immensely touched. Still am. But I was also terrified. The harsh words of my tormentor reverberated through my mind – and I was scared that I would make an awful noise, thus embarrassing all present, or that I would hit the drum too hard and damage it.
‘I am not good enough for this,’ was my immediate thought, though I did not voice it.
I am saying this out loud because it is a very common one in my internal dialogue – and is chasing its own tail as I wait for the ‘Shadow’ performance to happen. I have this absolute frozen terror of doing something that’ll let the side down, ruin things; that any part I play will provoke a sense of humiliation in the watcher, the way my fiddle-playing did all those months back.
I recognise that this is a huge unhealed wound – and, when I finally put the A string on my fiddle yesterday and played a tune, I cried and cried. It all just seemed so sad, that anyone would wish to hurt another so senselessly and for nothing; that such weapons of the mind are so readily available in our world and used, all too often, without conscience, without a backward glance.
But I do think the whole thing has been necessary. The Shaman’s act of choosing me was deeply healing. The complete violin and my tentative bowing, the shaky notes which emerged and then grew stronger, have allowed the banked distress to come pouring out, and that, ultimately, will also heal.
I think I am mainly emotionally knackered, though there is a strong physical side to it as well. My feelings are close to the surface (no bad thing) and tears are never far away. I think I use up pointless energy trying to prove to the world that I am a thick-skinned, impervious toughie. Ashamed of being thin-skinned, I guess, seeing it as a rather pretentious and princess-like claim in life.
I am beginning to see, and feel, that I am loved – by those who matter. But there is still the scared part of me that fears the resurgence of conditional love; that is eager to please; that over-commits; that is all too used to being told, in so many words, that only the best is good enough and that I am never going to reach that pinnacle.
I do think we have to face these vulnerable areas in order to conquer them, though – don’t you? We cannot banish fear if we don’t face it head on. We cannot get through emotional pain if we do not feel it in all its complex agony. If we constantly slam the door on the carcass of trauma, it will grow and grow in our minds until it bursts its bounds and comes stalking after us, a zombie yowling and muttering and sharpening its claws for the kill.