There is a flip side to living with exclamation points. I have long said that it is precisely my greatest strength that holds my greatest weakness. When you have a big heart and live out loud, unfortunately the reverse is also true. The heart that is open to love deeply is also open to great pain.
I pride myself on being tough. Staying strong in tough times is just what I do. Usually. You see, even the heartiest of souls have times when no matter how hard they try there is no strength. In my case that usually means there are long held in tears that stream down uncontrollably. At as is often tends to happen with me, it is usually at times when it is rather inconvenient. Tonight was one of those times.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. It seems that the really high and wonderful moments tend to stretch me beyond my usual range of emotions, and somehow that stretch seems to lessen my ability to suppress the negative ones.
Oh, there were also the other normal suspects as well, like fatigue, stress, and being surrounded by some very negative and frustrating personalities for long periods of time at the local fair that I couldn’t escape. I really didn’t stand a chance. Add that to the lack of activity at my booth, and the highs and lows of showing the house twice in one day and the deafening silence of no follow-up raising and dashing my hopes despite my best efforts to try to be even keel through it all, and the water works were locked and loaded, just waiting for the slightest trigger. That moment came at the end of the final show at the theatre.
I knew it was truly an oversight, but it was all it took. The final show, filled with all the songs that touched me throughout the season, was always emotional. But to watch everyone else take the stage for one final group bow, without me… my shell cracked like the chocolate covering on an ice cream bar. No one ever asked me to be a part of it. The sting of feeling like an outsider, a lifelong battle and ache returned with a vengeance. I hobbled to my car as fast as my weary legs would take me and literally bit my tongue to try to keep my composure.
Strong me was not impressed. In fact, she scoffed at the childish tears that fell like a wounded child while driving home. That image brought to mind a song that had been a heart anthem for me by Twila Paris at the end of my college years and had seen me through several difficult times throughout my adult life. Good old Spotify was happy to oblige my search.
“Lately I've been winning
Battles left and right
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears
They don't know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don't know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child..."
Since nothing beats the feeling of music blaring in a car when you are emotional, I sat in my driveway and sobbed as the song played on. Then I took a deep breath and came in and was greeted by my fur babies with the unconditional love they are so good at. I grabbed a glass of wine and my computer to help me process the events of the day. I knew by leaving early I was giving up my chance to say goodbye to the people I had grown so fond of in the show. But somehow, after my last round of hugs after the final Seussical, it felt like I was saying my goodbyes then. Life is funny that way. I resolved to send them each a message and hope to stay in touch via social media.
Speaking of social media, I had to make the decision as to whether or not to share my sad day. Not one to tell tales, I knew I wouldn’t explain it all. I try not to be too negative on social media. Still, the struggle was real. Somehow, I really wanted to say “Hey, I appreciate that you think I am brave and strong through this all, but the truth is, I still have hard times.” In the end, I posted a link to the song, and then set it so that only I could see it, to become just a memory. Yeah, I wimped out.
Social media is funny about emotions. When friends are used to seeing you as strong and hopeful person, sharing an admission of sadness and pain seems to make them uncomfortable. They like the idea of overcoming. The struggle is far less attractive. But the struggle is part of the journey. To say there is hope and strength without moments of pain and hurt, is simply not telling the whole story. If you are growing, you have overcome struggle. It’s how growth happens.
I now have a crockpot full of spicy taco dip in my fridge that was supposed to go to the after party. Maybe I’ll take it to the friendly folks at the fair tomorrow. Maybe I’ll just throw caution to the wind and eat it all over the next several days. Either way, it has been an exhausting few days and nothing says comfort food like chips and dip.
For now, the tears have stopped and a more reflective resolve has emerged. I know that my theatre days are somewhat of an escape, and not my reality. Still, they are hard to let go of. For now, they will have to live on in my memories and in the soundtracks of the shows that touched my heart.
I still don’t know what the future holds. My options certainly aren’t panning out as I had hoped. But much of life doesn’t work out like we plan. It’s up to me to make the best out of whatever comes, and I intend to do just that. The song has worked its way to the final chorus, and it time to “look up for a smile”. Yes, this warrior is a child. But as with most kids, the tears don’t last long and before they can finish drying on their cheeks, kids are off on their next adventure. Hang on Snoopy, Lucy’s on her way back…..!
PS. I chose to slowly eat the dip myself, a decision not approved by my scale. It's time to get back to healthy food. Also, I finally decided to post this entry. I'm not going to position it as the latest post, because I'm still insecure about it. But it's there for whoever need to find it. And someday, I'll put it in the book ;) Wishing you hope wherever you need to find it.