My psych eval (25 years later) part 6

Alissa is functioning in the above average range of intellectual ability. The disparity appears to be that her academic grades do not reflect this level of intellectual ability. The possibility of a learning disability exists as well as an attention deficit adversely effecting her scholastic achievement. Alissa does not seem to have an internal sense of herself as an individual with a high IQ level. Her degree of effort expended seems to exceed what would be necessary for her current level of achievement. She should be able to complete her classes fairly easily with some modest effort given this IQ level.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a really hard time concentrating on my studies with everything that was happening at home.

I never thought of myself as smart either. My dad frequently told me how stupid I was. I guess after awhile I believed him.

Sometimes I would play piano and sing. I even wrote some of my own songs. My dad would come home from work and tell me to stop banging on the piano and caterwauling like a dying cat. I didn’t think I was good at anything.

Now I have two children who are gifted at music. I wonder what I could’ve done with my talent if it was encouraged.

After being homeschooled between 8th through 10th grade, I joined high school choir. My choir teacher did not like me. I think it had something to do with my depression and having a violent disruptive autistic brother. There were just some teachers that didn’t like me because of who my brother was. She told me that I wasn’t good enough to compete or perform solos. I wanted to be in jazz choir, but didn’t bother auditioning. She missed the opportunity to positively impact the life of a struggling student and I admit I still look back on this in anger.

I wanted to sing in college choir, but I was told that I wasn’t good enough too many times by then to even try.

Many years later I started singing in front of people and they asked if I was the top student in high school choir with my voice. What?? I always thought I could sing but never was told I was any good at it.

Right around 4th grade is when my depression started. I loved music and always had to stop myself from crying during music class. I often stared off into space to keep it all together. My grades slipped and my parents got very angry with me. My mom took away my dolls for a semester.

My mom didn’t want me to try new things because I might fail. I felt like I had to be perfect. I couldn’t be loved if I was not perfect. I would be denied the things I liked if I wasn’t good enough to earn them. I don’t admit fault. It is hard to think that I am not good enough. I started striving to achieve. I’ve accomplished a lot in life, but still can’t get over feeling like I am not good enough. Maybe I will always be hard on myself.

My dad told me I was stupid and my mom wanted me to be perfect.

I don’t believe I am stupid or have to be perfect anymore. In that way, I think I have succeeded.

But sometimes I look back at the sad child and wonder who she would’ve been if things were different.

 

 

Out performing

Last week my daughter Angel was home from college for spring break. We watched a couple of rockumentaries. We watched the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck’. I found the documentary to be rather disturbing. It showed raw footage of his drug addiction. What a tragic story of a brilliantly troubled mind. He was so talented, yet died so tragically young. Sadly, it really isn’t unusual anymore to hear of talented performers dying from suicide or drug overdoses. I wouldn’t wish the life of a performer on my worst enemy.

Then it occurred to me that this is the kind of life two out of three of my children want to have. They want to be performers.

My firstborn, Angel, is in her second year of college for vocal performance. Recently she competed in a very elite competition and was one of the very few students from her college that was chosen to sing in front of an opera star. She never had singing lessons before college. It might even sound stupid, but maybe I never fully realized her talent. She was the only one ever in the history of her high school to get as many perfect scores at state for her vocal performances. Now she is in college competing with students that have had singing lessons for their whole entire lives.

But don’t all parents think that their children are the brightest, most talented, most intelligent children even if they are not? I also had the opportunity to listen to performances of strangers for solo and ensemble. I sat through one of the worst vocal duets I ever heard to look around to see parents recording the blessedly miserable event on their phone beaming with pride.

Parents often wear blinders. Why would I be any different?

My son is going to state for a piece that his piano teacher couldn’t even play the accompaniment for. It has a difficulty rating of 9. She said that it was a PhD piece. The ‘second chair’, who is a senior, played his level 4 difficulty solo from last year and bombed it. It was the song that my son got a perfect score on at state as a sophomore. After my son played his solo this year, the girl’s mother introduced herself to me. She told me that my son is a genius, a savant at music. She went on and on to the point that I almost was embarrassed. What could I say back to her? Her daughter as a talented senior bombed the solo my son aced at state last year as a sophomore. It was awkward.

I have two children that are the top performing musicians from their small town school. They are joining the hordes of a million other talented young wannabe famous musicians who are just as good if not better than they are.

In all honesty, who doesn’t want to be a star?? I sure would love to have 20,000 followers on WP. How about you?? If you have that many followers, how worried are you about continuing to write brilliant posts? Point made.

But do I want the life of a performer for my children?? I am not so sure anymore.

I picture them searching from city to city for a mirage they can’t seem to grasp onto. They will deal with the fear of failure. But guess what? The fear of success is just as terrifying. Rejection. Not having a stable lifestyle. Not having a steady income. The possibility of finding permanent residence in my basement. Not being able to pay off college debt. Maybe being famous? Having to keep performing at a stellar level to keep their fame. The possibility of drug addiction. Fans worshiping them but not knowing who they really are. Haters. Critics. What do you think a beautiful girl might have to do to make it to the top? A life on the road. What about a family? Broken relationships. Constant pressure. The isolation from a lack of anonymity. Broken dreams from not succeeding. Not being able to handle fame.

Why do I worry that it might not go well for them either way?? Didn’t we teach our kids to follow their dreams when we followed ours? Performing is one of the most exciting career journeys that anyone can follow.

Who knows? Maybe it will end well. As I overthink about it, maybe I am just worried because that is what I do as a parent. Worry. Sure, my kids are talented. But are they talented enough??

Maybe not pursuing a dream gives a life of more regrets.

And maybe I shouldn’t have watched that documentary.

Paul’s journey, part 5

Despite not having the best (or even good) grades, Paul went off to college after high school. He went because a friend was going and it seemed like a cool thing to do.

Once he got to college, something strange happened to Paul. He became popular. People liked him. He had a lot of friends. He somehow managed to escape the stigma of childhood and started a new life for himself far away from home. He joined a fraternity, participated in hazing, and became part of the wildlife on campus.

Here are few rescue squad stories…

1) There was a wild party at the frat house one night. The house was jam packed with people everywhere. Paul decided to sneak out the back door to run to the bathroom. When he came back, the room was empty and the phone was ringing. He felt like he was in the twilight zone. He answered the phone to find out it was 911 calling about a shooting. What shooting? Apparently there was a man in the front yard with a hole in his cheek from a botched suicide attempt. After the rescue squad arrived, Paul headed down to his room. He found hundreds of under age party goers squeezed into every nook and cranny who thought the party was getting busted.

2) One night a group of college students thought it would be a great idea to take an old canoe sledding down a hill in the icy snow. It was fun at first. Kids piled in and went at break neck speed down the hill. The last group (for obvious reasons) hit a tree on the way down. They flew out of the canoe. One girl had a broken pelvis, another needed plastic surgery on her face. The night ended with another call to the rescue squad.

 

Hanging out with friends and partying meant the world to Paul during his college years.

There was a dark side to this lifestyle…(besides the previously mentioned harebrained ideas).

His first long term girlfriend broke up with him.

His best friend at home became a quadriplegic. Paul wasn’t there that night the rescue squad was called. His friend Dwayne was camping and partying with friends. Now Dwayne would do anything for a dare, especially if he was drinking. Someone dared him to dive off a dock into shallow water. He broke his neck and almost died that night. There was a long grueling recovery. He never walked again and died young.

He flunked out of college. Paul was forced to take a semester off. People thought he was stupid again. He went back home and worked at the cheese factory on the production line with his mother. It was an awful experience, but it proved to be the spark that he needed to get his life back in order and buckle down.

 

 

 

Is my run over?

I feel like I am letting go of my dreams.

For a long time I held a handful of colorful helium balloons. Today I let them fly off into the air. Maybe I still grasp a few in my hands. But they are shriveled up like oxygen got in them….breathe…I can’t let go of all of my hope.

Saturday I had a wonderful run. I ran 18 miles without stopping except for a short bathroom, gu, and water break. I was fast. I had the stamina I spent months training for. Life was good. At the end I felt a twinge of knee pain, but it went away after a day.

Yesterday was my first run of this week. I ran 12 miles. The first 6 miles went pretty good with my knee brace on. I had to walk 3 out of the last 6 miles. Afterwards, my knee felt fine.

Today, I decided to go for a 6 mile run but only made 5. The first mile or two I felt a twinge of pain in my knee with my brace on. Then it started getting worse to the point that I needed to walk. I was afraid that by pushing on I would get hurt. At this point, I was halfway home regardless of whether I decided to keep walking or turn around. I tried calling my husband to come pick me up but he didn’t answer.

I was feeling so angry that I wanted to take my arms like a baseball bat and knock over mailboxes. I also wanted to kick over the garbage containers that littered the side of the road. But I convinced myself that further injury probably wouldn’t help my cause. It probably would piss off the neighbors, provide them with entertainment, or I would end up crossing off going to jail off my bucket list.

The marathon is 3 weeks away. I am going to try to take it easy for the next week or two and see what happens when I try running again. Right now I am not even fit to run a 5k.

I am so disappointed. There is no way that I am going to be able to run a marathon if I can’t even run a few miles without pain.

The real kicker is that my knee feels fine right now.

Success or failure?

“Your success or failure is in your own mind!”- Think and Grow Rich

Yesterday my mom and I got a massage together. Before the massage I received a positive affirmation (the quote above). It really made me think. So while I was lying on the table, I thought about the quote and the words I would write in response.

Success? Failure? It made me think a little about my first marathon that I ran last summer. When I think about it, my mind thinks that I was a failure. I didn’t get the time that I wanted. To me that equates with failure. The first 3 hours were great, in fact I was quite successful. Then I hurt my knee. I spent the next 3 hours walking the last 8 miles in moderate to extreme pain. Besides childbirth, those 3 hours were the most physically painful hours I have ever experienced in my life. But I finished the marathon.

Did I achieve success or failure? When I crossed the finish line I entered the ranks of the 1 in 200 US citizens that completes a marathon. If I look at it that way, I feel successful. It was something I earned. It is rarer than being left handed (8 out of 100) or having AB blood type (3 out of 100) both of which groups I was born into. Most people would view my completion of a marathon a success even if in my mind I feel like I am a failure.

I am 41 years old. Am I old? I would bet that most of you that are quite a bit younger would say that I am old. Those of you that are older, think that I am young. Most people around my age are thinking that I am not terribly old. It is all about perspective. We judge others by ourselves. I can’t seem to escape the perspective of my own mind. I could look only at statistics, but not for very long before my own judgments sneak in.

I might think that I am rather smart. But I wouldn’t feel that way if I was constantly surrounded by geniuses. I judge your writing by my writing. I judge your age by my age. If I am bad at something, I will think that you are good. If I am good at something, I will be a harsher critic. I judge everything by my own yardstick. Your beauty, age, intelligence, income level, etc is all about me.  

Back in the beginning of January, I uploaded a video of Angel and I singing. I didn’t show our faces, just a blank screen. If you were to listen to it, I am sure that everyone would have an entirely different perspective. Some would think that Angel is a better singer (she is). Some would point out every error. Some would be able to hear the differences in our voices, some would not. 

If only we could get outside of our own mind. But how can that be done? I can be empathetic and relate to you for a short period of time, then I find myself back in my own head again. I can’t escape myself for very long. My needs, wants, stereotypes, thoughts, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, judgments, and life experiences cloud my ability to see you. 

Wow, that is pretty deep for a Saturday afternoon.  

Letting go of a broken wing

Yesterday as I was heading back to work after my lunch break, I noticed a peculiar sight. There was a robin hanging from a tree branch in my front yard. At first, I thought she was dead. Then I saw a flap of a wing, a bit of a struggle.

I noticed a nest starting a few branches higher. But something went terribly wrong. There was a black line, like fishing line, wrapped around the tree and around the wing of the bird. Every time the bird tried to break free, she wrapped her wing around the small branch again and again.

I approached the bird in a panic wondering what to do. I was afraid of the bird. The bird was afraid of me too. I spoke quietly panicked F words to the bird. I went back inside the house and grabbed a scissors. I started to cut away the line entrapping the bird. As I cut closer, the bird shrieked loudly. Panic took over my body. The tunnel vision started, my stomach acid built, and I started shaking. I was terrified to cut closer to the bird’s body, but I couldn’t leave it there to die.

So I did the next best thing after wimping out. I found someone to help me free the bird. He cut the line that was wrapped tightly around the wing. The bird fell to the ground and quickly ran away too injured to fly.

Then I started ruminating about horrible things. I thought about the nature shows I’ve watched where sea animals are caught in fishing nets. Or of all the animals that I hit with my car. Maybe some were pets. The dog that looked like mine that I saw dead along the highway years back. The pets that I lost. The fish that swallowed the hooks.

By far the worst thing that happened was a few years ago. I almost hit a deer at dusk. I slammed on my brakes just missing the deer. He ran quickly past me to the woods that was surrounded by a fence. The deer hit the fence at full force and did a flip. It was kind of comical at the time so I laughed. It felt good to relieve my nerves from the stress of almost hitting the deer. The deer was stunned from hitting the fence, but seemed to be  fine. So I left.

A few weeks later I was driving down the same road when I looked over at the area where I almost hit the deer. I noticed a dead deer that was tangled up in the fence. I knew it had to be the deer that I almost hit, that he didn’t end up being alright after all. I felt so horrible. Maybe I should have stayed longer to make sure the deer was okay. I felt guilty for my laughter. Things didn’t turn out okay like I thought they did at the time. It had to be the same animal, right? I NEVER would have left that animal there if I knew it was hurt or in any pain. It really bothered me.

Today when I came home for lunch, I saw the injured bird. Paul armed himself with a fishing net and I carried the cat carrier. We trudged around the neighborhood in attempts to capture the injured bird. I want to tell you that we caught it and brought it to the wildlife refuge like I planned, but we couldn’t catch it. The bird escaped into a muddy field. Now it probably would’ve been amusing watching us chase a bird in knee deep mud, but we had to give up. We couldn’t even catch it while on solid ground.

I can sense the storm approaching. The temperature dropped and the winds are ferociously howling. The ominous threat of a blizzard lingers. By tomorrow we are supposed to have a foot of snow whipping around in 40 mph winds.

I can’t control everything. I can’t protect everyone. I did the best I could. I am just going to have to let this go…