Sunday, December 11, 2011

Capra or Bergman?

I can look at a video of myself dancing in class or even in a performance and think, “Well, that could have been a lot better.  Why didn’t I do this or that (fill in the blank) better?”  Being hard on yourself—(okay, you teach what you need to learn—I get it—I’m hard on myself, too) can raise the level of your expectation so high that you could start to wonder, “Who do I think I am?” Not a good or constructive thing to ask yourself, especially in that tone of voice!  Once again, you must focus on what you know is true.  Think about what you know you can do, use that as your foundation, and learn more from that point.

Often holidays with my family growing up could be emotionally brutal.  Because you expect Frank Capra (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) (Why?? Are you new here??) but instead get Ingmar Bergman (”Cries and Whispers”).  It makes the tension all the more difficult to handle. Somehow I always thought that each year might be different—maybe my parents wouldn’t crack open the gin (it makes a sullen drunk).  We would back away.  (“Save yourself!!!!”).  We hoped they would stick to champagne (a nicer intoxication).   It wasn’t always as bad as that sounds, but sometimes it was.   

Sometimes we, the children, blamed ourselves.  We weren’t sure whether we were powerful enough to be responsible or not. 

The holidays bring too much pressure on just about everyone. The expectations are always really high.   Are we having fun yet?  In my family of origin, we could all make dog poop look like a birthday cake, so it always looked really good.  We had to go to church and every single Sunday, Christmas, and Easter, my white gloves were rolled up in a ball at the back of my drawer, and I could never find my shoes.  I can still hear my dad saying, “How the hell can anyone lose their shoes?!?!” I always found them and straightened out my balled-up gloves.  We always looked really good, but no one knew what was going on in our hearts.

I really do not blame my parents; they did the best they could.  They were generally kind and though they didn’t like each other, they loved us.  And that’s really something to treasure.  This is what I know to be true:  If they had known how to do better, they would have.  (So would I, in the many mistakes I have made.)  The truth is love, and love is the foundation.  I can build from the truth and just keep trying to learn more.  I choose Frank Capra.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure this wasn't an easy one to write, Susie. Yet your experiences, although yours alone, will resonate with many of your readers. People really do the best that they can.... I remind myself of that often. We just have to remember that we, too, are people. We do the best that we can, hopefully learn from our past "mistakes," and have compassion for ourselves, as well as for others. They say that compassion and kindness for oneself is one of the biggest openings of the heart center that one can experience.... I, too, am working on it!