Someone sent a video to me this week about a violinist Itzhak Perlman, a world famous musician who suffered from polio as a child and as a result has been in a wheelchair all his life. During one of his concerts, one of the strings on his violin snapped. Instead of limping off stage in his crutches to get another violin, he closed his eyes and continued to play his symphonic work with only three strings, giving one of the best performances of his musical career. The music was more beautiful than any the audience had ever heard, and at the very end he stood up and said,
“Our job is to make music with what remains”
This sentence moved me deeply as I feel so broken sometimes. I was sexually abused as young girl and it has affected me profoundly. It is only now through counselling that I am discovering the depths of how it has shaped me and my ability to make and maintain connections with others. We all feel broken deep inside sometimes. But with our imperfect instruments we can indeed continue to make music more beautiful than we can fathom. Our broken strings don’t define us and they don’t need to empower or swallow us up. We keep playing regardless.
This week I was feeling quite broken as I struggled with being a single mum and trying to find a healthy balance between disciplining and loving my child. I struggled with the knowledge that I have a pelvic prolapse and may need surgery soon, and I struggled with the reality that it is incredibly difficult for me not to become overwhelmed with small and big things. Small things like being late and rushing around madly in the morning, big things like the rage I feel at the depths of me.
I came home from work one day and with only an hour before I had to pick my son up from school, I put my head on the bed and cried from the depths of me. A powerful, deep cry that left me exhausted. I felt in that moment that I had connected with that very deep place within that feels so unworthy and so scared and hurt. That part that is so afraid of abandonment that it will accept less than it deserves and will also self-sabotage to risk being abandoned, in other words, I push people away before they can do it.
I felt so alone and even contemplated going back to my ex just so that I wouldn’t have to be alone and abandoned anymore. How pathetic that would be, the strong woman who blogs here and goes for counselling, that woman to fly back into the arms of the man who has shown no sign of changing or taking responsibility. Yet I wanted to get as far away from that abandonment as possible. Yet, rather than calling myself ‘pathetic’ and ‘weak’ and expecting nothing short of perfection, now is the time to acknowledge that powerful unmet need within. That unmet need that I take into every relationship. That hole and ache that wants to be unconditionally loved by a mother and father. That vulnerability that on the one hand makes me so distrustful at the beginning of relationships and also makes me voiceless just to have a relationship as opposed to nothing. That vulnerability that makes me swallow the words I should say and then as they build and build they reach a point when I need to vomit them out onto a page.
I’ve touched the rage deep within that is triggered by feeling unheard and unseen. I fight back with my angry words but not in the moment, later once they have built up enough fire to burn buildings.
Over and over I repeat the patterns that are so hard to change, yet I am not weak and pathetic. It takes time to heal and awareness is the first step. I have seen my broken string, I have heard its song.
I have strengths and weaknesses and I have vulnerabilities. I work hard to accept these weaknesses and vulnerabilities as part of me. I am not perfect nor should I have to be. I can be loved even with my vulnerabilities and weaknesses by the right person. But first I must accept them and make peace with them; make peace with myself. First I must be able to embrace all the parts and integrate them into me. The strong and the weak. Allowing it in. It’s not a black mark. I acknowledge and embrace it all. I must feel them deeply and hear what they have to say.
I overeat, I over shout, I get overwhelmed, I obsess, I dream, I hope, I get angry, I sometimes betray myself by not doing or saying what I really want to do or say. But I am flawed and human and I keep making my music.
So I urge you to continue playing and be gentle and honest about your instrument. Your music is still unimaginably beautiful regardless of the number of strings you play with.