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diary-of-an-alt-pop-mother

Oct 18

The Ball Gown. Finding the one that fits.

Blog 10 -   for ‘diary of an alt-pop mother’.

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I’m staring at the massive pile of free clothes,  overwhelmed.

It’s a clothes swap afternoon with a gig slash party afterwards and I have agreed to play my songs later on, all by myself. Ben’s call. He said I should do it solo. I can think of nothing else.

 I grab a few dresses and tops that may fit and shove them in my bag - feeling like I don’t really have time to try them on. I have plenty of time. It goes for four hours before any music starts, but I am not hugely in the mood.

A friend, newly arrived, is madly trying on armfuls of items with great excitement and so I join her with one token dress - allowing it to distract me from my ‘task’ ahead. The mirror keeps us busy.

Yes for days now I’ve wondered if I should pull out of this gig, yes - that again. Man oh man. My throat through the week characteristically gradually growing to feel sorry for itself, threatening me that it will hurt me if I dare to defy it. And the thought of the cold wind lashing at us on our way to the gig - ominous. Enough so to pull out. But I may have felt like that at 38 degrees.

 I think before - when I sang with the band (in the past) - I was nervous every gig, yes, but not ‘in charge’. When you are in charge,  however  psychological that in charge perhaps is, you carry more. Question more. Cave in more…and want to make it stop. Well this is so - for Ben and I. And tonight’s even worse,  ‘cos it’s just me. in charge. of myself.

I start the set and am not proved wrong for feeling such fear. I faff about fumbling with the casio and my lyric sheets that I don’t need,  like it’s the first time I’ve played a gig in my whole life. How humbling this whole experience is for me. But I plough on - through the microphone not being loud enough, the ukelele being stubbornly out of tune - me helplessly inexperienced in tuning on stage to be able to change it - screaming SAVE ME BEN without words.  I plough on - through the chatter of those less loyal to me or just at the back loudly unaware I even exist. Painfully slowly I sing and play every bit that comes after the next bit, after the next bit in the quiet songs I’ve so unfortunately chosen as my first. Then it is over and the casio beat finally kicks in. Ah the relief. It lifts me up to start dancing. I’m up and free and bursting to make it work. Ah the beat. The beat! It is easier to have fun.

It is easier to be upbeat and not let anyone in.

Because it backfires.

And here I was thinking I was the Queen of Conflict.

That I was unafraid of bringing up things with people.

I was wrong. I am very afraid.

I don’t tell them if they’ve upset me. I just avoid them. I hear it, take it home and let it fester, until I am so scared of that person, of it happening again, that the friendship stretched  so thin and taut across my fear of what comes next  has no choice but  to SNAP! At the touch of a finger point. 

 Girls are so complex.

It is only as she walks away that I realise what she has done.

She has shot me down. Why?

The big pile of clothes on the table next to me is all of us just tossed together in one big mass -

  “There you go, be women,  see how you fly”.

My other friend with the clothes turns to me and sees my face

"Are you ok?"

No, no I’m not.

 My gig gratefully acts as a pause to what I will at some point let myself feel.

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Before the Ball - we put on the dress that we have carefully found to be most ‘us’ then step through the front door to be presented at the entrance of the ballroom,  for inspection.

"Mrs Rebecca Burns".

We are looked up and down and at first it’s simple - You - are either admired or dismissed. And you walk on in. You end up in the powder room with those who chose you (and you them) and divulge vulnerable remarks about being too shy or not being able to dance or being in love with so and so and then it gets complicated.

 As time goes on - after a few Balls - the patterns of your dress may clash against your friend’s. Or they have put on weight so your lack of it annoys them. You feel defensive if someone comments on your dress in the wrong way,  on how you look in that dress, on how maybe another one would look better. You ask to borrow their dress when you can’t find yours one day and it feels like you are asking too much. They ask you if you would pick up their dress from the drycleaner for them but you just can’t that day and proceed to feel uneasy and bad about it. You ask them to help you with your zipper at the back that is soooo annoying… and they suggest you may just be better off in trousers if the dress is such a hassle

 and the fun is over.

I get lured in. Into communicating honestly in the hope that they too will trust me in the same way.  And they do, and it seems like everything is alright, but I find that I am waiting …

for when it isn’t alright.  Anymore.

Waiting for that moment when I ask for too much, say too much or let someone down  - when grace is not given… and I am judged. Or I am the brunt. Of a comment.  A joke. A bad mood.

 And today,  it happened.  It slapped me across the face. And it is in these moments I want to have only Ben as my friend because it’s too hard work getting it right. It’s too hard work not taking it personally. It’s just too hard. I don’t know the rules and later that night I cry and I swear I cannot ever, EVER see her again.

Drama at the clothes swap.

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My daughter has a hold of her friend’s hand and they are spinning each other around and around in their new old shoes - found on the kid’s clothes swap table. They couldn’t wait to dance in them. She had come up to tell me they were waiting for a dancing song. Waiting for the man to play one.

Sometimes I feel like no-body likes me anymore, nobody wants to play with me.

Sometimes I feel like the rubbish-est friend in the world,  trying to guess and getting it all wrong. 

Sometimes I feel like the rubbishest adult in the world that everybody, simply everybody, is talking about.

But it’s possible we are more preoccupied with ourselves than anyone else       is       ever      going      to       be. 

It is usually,  mostly,         all                   in             our       head.

And even if it isn’t - well - I’m learning that some things,  especially things people say to me, they , well,   just may not matter so much.

Or more so,  may not be mine - to bare.

.

The fact is it is going to happen.  There will be harsh words. There will be pain. There will. There just will. Truth lies in difficult, dark moments. Deep truths lie in how we react. What happened inside us? What are we carrying around? In the conflict, in the drama, we can find everything we need to know, need to grow, need to have some grasp on, to be free of things having so much power over us.

To not be free of the conflict. But free in it. After it. And maybe one day - when I’ve really got this thing down - during it.

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Today I had many girl-friends here. Some new, some old, some even older. Some came and went and some stayed. As I brush past one of them on the way back from the drinks area I kiss her on the cheek out of a sudden affection, then hold the shoulder of another, sitting there right in front of us. She squeezes my hand - upon her shoulder.

I love them and I need them.

I like the dancing. Now. I’m feeling far more able.

I like the exchanging of dresses and tips. That’s what it’s about for me. It’s not about buying one dress, with my own money, for only me to wear. Even then it won’t be perfect. And I’m not going to pretend that it is.

I like it that we get to choose the dress out of the pile but that we also have to work with what there is.

I like it when we admit the dress we have chosen is not quite our fit, that it needs a few changes…and in response - we get help to make it fit. When the points of our fingers touch and move into a clasp of our hands.  And we help each other sew it up,  take it in, agree about the annoying zip, step back and look.

And look.

Again,

and again,

and again.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I’m going to receive  an Again.

But sometimes I do.

Sometimes the sting

just never comes.

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"Thankyou for singing that song again” my friend says as she smiles up at me.

She can sew,  she helps me sew my buttons back on.

I can sing, I help her sew her heart back together.

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Sadness it comes like a dove as it rests upon my shoulder

Gently it’s singing to me as it calls me to grow stronger

Every day I feel the changes in me. Every day I feel the changes in me.

This time is so new to me and it’s pulling on my heart now

Something has shifted in me, like a river flowing downstream

Every day I feel the changes in me. Every day I feel the changes in me. Because of you I feel the changes in me.

 I feel the drought is finally breaking, into my arms, the rain drops fall as I catch them. On my tongue, they taste so good as I catch them, let the water living pour down

Excitement’s on the edge of it’s seat and it’s causing me to hold on. True peace is abiding in me, I just can’t believe you love me

 Every day I feel the changes in me. Every day I feel the changes in me. Because of you I feel the changes in me.

 (Upon my shoulder - By Rebecca Boucher Burns)

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When I am home,  the next day - I try on the dresses I’d blindly grabbed. Someone else’s skin that I now have.  Something I may not have chosen from a shop but now - on me, yes, I like it. It suits me. It is black, perhaps sexier than I would have bought, more expensive material than I could afford. Each friend and what she has to give, who she is, adjusts me a bit. Changes me a bit, teaches me something. And I am thrilled at it’s choosing me to wear it - at it’s difference to who I have been, what I have worn before.

I realise that I didn’t feel like my solo outfit fitted me very well at all - playing music alone . Or else it just didn’t fit in the place where I wore it. I don’t’ know. I had to try it on for size at least, before I could make adjustments. I think in a different context it could work. So I won’t throw it away just yet. I’ll put it in my ‘maybe’ bag of clothes for further, later on, inspection, stowed away in the top back corner of my wardrobe.

1. My dear friend distracting me with dotty dresses (that are too tight!!)image

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2. Me getting better at this whole ‘playing instruments malarkey’ - this is at our latest gig at the Red door Cafe - (many months after the clothes swap one) see how pro I look, so calm.

image

3. My lovely girl with me at a gig in Australia. Ah all those friendships (and outfits to try out) in front of her, she’s only just begun. She already has a style of her own, in many things. And it’s not always the same as mine. I like that. It is hard at times but yes, I also like it. Cos she changes me. Challenges, inspires and questions me. Once again I am starting to see all these things are like a gift to me xx (ha! free, practical therapy!)

image

my song (lyrics in blog) that my friend thanked me for singing for her

https://soundcloud.com/belle-of-the-ball/upon-my-shoulder

This posting is dedicated to Ms R and Ms V.  xx

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