Posted by: Marie | April 30, 2013

(839) Respectable people – Part 1 of 2

Post #839
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, May 5, 2012]

One of the public schools in our little town is a charter academy. Last night, this charter academy held their student talent show. Seven of the students in the talent show were piano students of mine.

One of those seven students was Sara, the daughter of the cop (James) and paramedic (Cindy). I had created an arrangement of Fur Elise by Beethoven for her, which she played at the talent show.

To show their appreciation for my work with Sara, James and Cindy invited me to go with them to the talent show (they paid for my ticket) and then to go out to dinner afterward. I was tickled to accept.

Sara had a lesson right before the talent show. After the lesson, I rode with Cindy and Sara to the talent show – James was coming from work and met us at the school. The four of us walked into the school together.

I didn’t think about the possibility that I might become emotional during the talent show. I should have been aware of that possibility . . . obviously, I know how emotional I get during the recitals in my studio . . . and that’s the case even though I’m always very focused on making everything happen as planned, which allows me to be distracted from my emotions to some extent.


Photo by Martin Chen

I should have known that, in a situation like this talent show where I’m not focused on making things happen, there would be plenty of brain space to allow for intense emotions . . .

And, as soon as we walked into the gym, I felt the emotions rising up . . . a mix of emotions . . . pride in my students, gratitude for my friendship with this family, appreciation for how different my life is now compared to ten years ago . . .

And, as soon as Sara took the stage and started playing, the tears spilled over. Of course, there weren’t just a few tears . . . there were many . . . I just lost it.

When Sara finished playing, both Cindy and James turned to look at me with big grins on their faces . . . I smiled back, trying to show my pride and pleasure . . . James looked surprised to see my tears. His face quickly dropped into a sober expression and he asked me if I was okay.

I assured him I was . . . I whispered to him that I get emotional so quickly when I see my students do so well . . . when I am reminded of how proud I am of them and how blessed I am to have them in my life.

Cindy happened to have one tissue with her and she gave it to me . . . I used it until it became a soggy lump. Then, I just wiped my tears and snot away the best I could with my hands . . . a bit messy, but, oh well, LOL.

Anyway, the talent show lasted a long time . . . almost two hours. People with little kids started leaving before it was finished – I don’t blame them! That was too long.

After the talent show, all the parents/adults pitched in with putting away the chairs; then the four of us headed out to dinner. It was getting pretty late by then, but none of us had to get up early the next morning, so the late hour was not much of a concern for us.

At dinner, the conversation was pretty light and fun . . . all topics that would be appropriate for Sara’s eight-year-old ears . . . I didn’t contribute much to the conversation . . . I was content to mostly listen to the easy banter among the three of them.

At one point, we got to talking about food . . . what each of us likes and doesn’t like . . . I told them about when I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have any money . . . I moved into my sister’s basement . . .

There were several months during which my family bought groceries for me. Without that help, I wouldn’t have had food to eat. One day, my sister told me that a nearby grocery store was going out of business. Each week, they were dropping the price on anything that was left on the shelves. On that day, the prices had dropped to something like 75% off, so she took me there to go shopping . . . she gave me $100 to spend there.

Of course, by then, the food had been pretty picked over. The stuff that was left was the worst of the worst . . . it was food I didn’t like and would normally not be willing to eat. However, beggars can’t be choosers . . . so, I selected $100 worth of food from what was left on the shelves . . . and I was grateful for it.

Over the next few months, I would eat whatever food I had on hand that I liked . . . for example, food that my mom cooked for me . . . food that was given to my by friends . . . and, when that “good” food ran out, I would go into my little kitchen area and look at those cans and jars of “yucky” food sitting on my shelves . . .

How hungry was I, really . . . ?? Was I hungry enough to eat that yucky food?

Some days I was that hungry . . . other days, I was not . . . some days I just didn’t eat.

When I told them about that experience, I told it in a light-hearted way . . . I was laughing . . . I wanted to share part of my story with them, but I didn’t want to get too heavy because Sara was present. It really wasn’t a light-hearted story, but the only way I knew to share it in that situation was with a humorous flavor to it.

At one point, Sara and Cindy headed off to the restroom, which left James and I alone at the table. For some reason, that made me nervous . . . it is easy to make conversation with him when we are at the studio because we can talk about whatever until we run out of things to talk about, and then we start the piano lesson . . . or, if we are visiting after the piano lesson and we run out of things to talk about, we see it as his cue to leave.

To be sitting with him at a dinner table where we were “obligated” to find something to talk about . . . well, that made me anxious . . .

So, I launched into the first topic I could think of . . .

Me: You know . . . this kind of thing is new to me . . . I mean, socializing with people, hanging out with people . . . I don’t really know how to do it . . .

James: What do you mean?

Me: I spend a lot of time with people in professional settings . . . teaching, networking meetings, business meetings . . . but I don’t just “hang out” with people . . . I’m kind of rusty at it . . . it has been a long time since I’ve done that . . . I’m not sure how to behave or what to talk about . . . I’m not sure what topics are kosher . . . I don’t know if I’m supposed to always keep it light or if it is okay to get into heavier topics . . . I don’t know what is “normal” . . .

James: I think you can talk about anything you want to with us . . . well, I mean, we have to keep it age-appropriate for Sara. But, other than that, you are welcome to talk about anything.

Me: Okay . . . that’s good to know . . .

James: What has kept you from socializing with people?

Me: In my 20’s and 30’s, I went out a lot . . . but, that involved getting drunk . . . having one-night stands . . . it involved high-risk behavior . . . it involved me doing things I’m not very proud of . . .

So, when I got into the therapy process and started dealing with the trauma in my childhood, I knew I had to stop that destructive behavior. I was behaving like that as a way to numb the pain . . . I knew I had to stop that behavior and start dealing with the pain.

I didn’t know how to develop and maintain healthy friendships . . . I couldn’t trust myself to behave in a healthy way when I went out with people . . . so, I stopped going out at all. I pretty much became a recluse. That was the only way I knew to stop the destructive behavior.

So, now, I’m just now starting to venture out into social situations again . . . the people I’m hanging out with now are high-quality people . . . they are people who conduct themselves honorably. But, hanging out with honorably-behaving people in a social setting is a whole new experience for me.

I know how to engage in risqué conversations . . . I know how to be inappropriately sexual in my behavior . . . but this business of hanging out with quality people and conducting myself appropriately in social situations is rather new to me. I’m still figuring it out.

James: You’ve never done anything with me that I would consider risqué or inappropriate . . . you are doing very well handling yourself . . . I would have never known you were struggling with it!

Me: (Grinning) Thank you!

James: Are you comfortable hanging out with us?

Me: Well, yes . . . I mean, as comfortable as I can be, given the fact I’m learning a new skill . . . I really enjoy you guys’ company. I’d rather be stumbling my way through the learning process in front of you guys than with just about anyone else!

James: You know . . . you are family to us . . . we consider you as part of our family . . . I hope you know that.

Me: (Struggling to keep my emotions steady) Wow . . . no, I didn’t know that . . . that means a lot to me . . . thank you . . . it is an honor.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

Quotes 749


  1. I love this!

    • Thank you, David!

  2. I think you are very brave to share like this. You deserve these kinds of people in your life and I’m glad that they consider you family.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


    • I appreciate the kind words, Kate!

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