My 2018 Word of the Year is Freaking Me Out.

You might recall from my last post that my word of the year is “dream”, or “DREAM” – depending on how I want to sound when I’m typing it. And it’s already making me a wee bit crazy

When I think of dreams, I think of Martin Luther King Jr. (who doesn’t?) and then I think of my childhood fantasies, wishes and hopes. Rainbows. Unicorns. Things I think are hilarious and totally ridiculous and why bother. Just the word “dream” is so fucking earnest. It’s reality TV shows and dying people’s wishes.

But for me, choosing the word “dream” for 2018 is already seriously threatening my well-being and balance (random crying jags yesterday), and not because I think it’s kind of corny and I’m too cool for dreams.

Throughout my childhood and up until my senior year in high school I was a good singer and musician. When I was really little I wrote songs on the piano. I learned violin and cello and guitar (never got great at any of them, but quickly got “good enough” to get bored). When I got older I got into my school’s amazing Glee Club a year early.

At boarding school I was introduced to a visiting voice coach who used to sing in the Metropolitan Opera chorus, Ruth Lansche. She pushed me to learn the basics, to train and to build my repertoire of songs and languages. I started entering and winning State singing competitions, getting leads in the school musicals, giving solo recitals and I got ready to pursue it as a career, which meant auditions at all the best conservatories.

And, while they were essentially absent during these competitive, intense singing training years (because my father was newly married to a horrible person, and my mom was reinventing her post-divorce life), both my parents made it clear they thought I could and should do this singing thing and they were ready to pay for the schools and private coaching.

But I gave it up.

Get this: I decided I wanted a “normal” college experience with boyfriends and parties and cigarettes once in a while, like my sisters and their friends had.

You might recall from the rest of this blog that I was overweight this whole singing-success time, and not exactly a boy magnet. My plan was to take my grandmother’s traditional $3000 graduation gift and give it to NutriSystem so I could lose all the weight (30lbs) the summer after high school and start over in college. I’d finally be a cool, pretty and popular girl who didn’t have this weird singing training thing, and weird theater community/group of friends, and didn’t have to wear scarves all the time to protect my throat, and didn’t have to learn a million foreign languages so I could sing them properly.

And my plan worked. I lost weight. I got a very hot boyfriend. I smoked a ton of cigarettes and drank a ton of drinks. I had a “cool” group of friends. And I stopped singing except for the odd attempt at seducing boys with an obscure cover song on my guitar.

Today, 25 years later, I am not thin. I am not in touch with anyone from college. And I still don’t sing. Luckily, I do still have my two best friends from boarding school because- duh- they were real friends from a time when I was the real me.

It hurts so much to think about it. Not a day in my life goes go by that I don’t kick myself and wish with all my might that I could go back 25 years and un-do that decision.

After being given a special talent, I threw it away like a piece of trash.

So I don’t dream. I don’t deserve to dream.

When I do come up with something fun and exciting to try, I picture it as a huge bright floating orb, and then I pull out the “what’s realistic?” garden hose and spray at it until it fizzles, shrinks and drops back to earth with a light thud, looking a lot more like a new work task, less like a fun project.

So, reader, this is going to be a long haul in 2018. Wish me luck.

9 Replies to “My 2018 Word of the Year is Freaking Me Out.”

  1. Please sing. Even if it’s simply for yourself, do it. You were given something, and you STILL have it. I bet you will feel so great if you just do it every single day, even just one song. 🙂 PS: When I find myself crying a lot, it’s because my heart is opening up. I didn’t cry for years, and I couldn’t feel a fucking thing. Now I cry all the time, and I’m just happy to be feeling again. Something about the idea of your DREAM is cracking your heart open. Buckle up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I will do my best to get singing. It’s a strange thing – like a very tight girdle on my heart – that makes me feel like I can’t “just sing” for myself. And I can’t explain it better than that. I’ve definitely dabbled over the years and kinda sorta tried to get back into it. The struggle to sound the way I used to, hit the notes I used to hit, … it just hurts and then I give up. But as I know now in sobriety, sometimes we have to go through pain to get to the other side, and then it’s all so worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You lived a life: a real one, authentic, gritty and full of peaks and valleys. Your life. Everything you want to be is already/still in you, don’t shit on it just to punish yourself for a decision Past You made. And if you really think about it, your life has given you interesting and meaningful experiences to actually write songs about. Dream on!

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    1. Well that’s an awesome way to look at it. I’m going to think about that. It’s funny, every time I see someone struggling to forgive herself for past wrongs as she also struggles to get sober I think “jeez, the past is the past – move on lady!” But here I am with my own regret and pain that I agonize over, and zero healthy adult perspective on it. I just consider MY pain and regret a stupid ass dumb pathetic childish selfish decision that “Now Me” made a while ago. But you’re right – it was Past Me. And even if she wasn’t drunk when she made the decision, she made it out of fear, anxiety and loneliness… all the things that also led to drinking too much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally get it. I, too, chose the “wrong” fork in the road (as judged by a much more conservative Now Me). But then I think, “Well, that was my path. That’s how I got here.”
        Let’s get our guitars out and have a sing along! I’m not very good, so play louder than me:)

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    1. I have started it and then put it down because I suddenly wanted to just read Artist’s Way, and then I forgot to read Aritst’s Way. Hahaha. I will re-pick up Big Magic and I will get back to you. I do love Elizabeth Gilbert. I have it on Audible and her voice is so soothing and authentic.

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  3. Hi Ingrid, I came across your blog because I was actually looking for some motivation to quit smoking, in a weird way, I came across this post and it resonated with me. I too did want to sing at one point, and although I was not as talented as I imagine you were, I did have a passion for it. Reading about your experience and relating to my current self, I want to tell you that I am rooting for you. Although I don’t know much about you I don’t even know you, I can tell you have a courageous spirit and you’ve been through a lot, I only wish you would go for what you want, relentlessly, and remember the spirit you had and the talent you know lies within. I don’t think it’s ever too late, I don’t think you should ever let anything stop you, what is stopping you from tapping into that passion? I know life has its way of discouraging us, I too have been discouraged from following many passions, all I know is singing is beautiful and if you as so much as can’t go a day without thinking about it, then go for it. I do believe in you.

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