Greetings and Salutations, Blog Readers!
Today we continue with the blogging of HalLudoween weekend, and after covering Friday, we dive into Saturday…Where anxiety STRIKES, but so does…the power of friendship. Cheesy, I know, but let’s talk about it.
Late on Friday, I had a nice conversation with Teddy, the bouncer/security detail of the hotel, who reminded me about being myself – and I remembered the struggle I have always had with being myself, and how proud I was about all the work I had done in therapy to just be able to be me.
Of course, with being me…that comes with the massive anxiety I do have. I tossed and turned and slept poorly because I knew the next day was…my day to sing during sound check.
I calmed myself down, knowing the band wouldn’t do Save Our City for soundcheck, nor would they do Skeletons on Parade, so, I was fairly safe doing Lake Ponchartrain. I told myself I would listen to it a bunch and be okay.
Still, I didn’t sleep well, which I knew would make me even more anxious.
I woke up early, after getting a few hours of sleep, none of which was quality sleep. I was anxious. I went through my morning routine, and then tried to walk out of my room for some food.
And my agoraphobia struck, with a vengeance. The world spun as I approached the door to my hotel room.
I couldn’t bring myself to open the door.
I sit down on the bed. I must eat. I can’t NOT eat, and I know it would be best to GO eat, to get used to being outside of the safety of my room. I know my agoraphobia well; I know how to go outside when anxiety is high. I considered calling my therapist. I never call outside of my appointment times, but I have the greatest therapist ever and I know she would take my call.
No. I have been in therapy for over a year, damn near two years, with my amazing therapist. We have worked on my coping techniques.
I take a deep breath. I am a fish. I need to go into a fish tank. First, the bag, get used to the outside.
I open the window to my room, so I can SEE the outside.
Okay. That helps.
I can see what I will be going into. I go upstairs to the rooftop bar, it isn’t open, but it forces me outside, without people.
I smoke a cigarette. I know, some of you know I have quit, but I knew I wouldn’t have much cannabis to smoke, and I would be drinking (heavily) and also be very nervous, so I allowed myself smoking this weekend.
I look at the venue. The world spins but spins less than earlier. I sip my water. I know that I can have up to two cups of coffee, and it will provide more comfort than caffeine induced anxiety.
I go back to my room, freshen up, wish I hadn’t finished my book so early, and head downstairs to the restaurant to get breakfast. The host can tell I am nervous, and I sit at my booth to try and rest my nerves. I order the same breakfast I have been getting, my omelet, and then try to recenter myself. I have a great chance of not ruining everything with my song, I know Lake Ponchartrain well, hell, I have BEEN there.
I got this. I am in my head, thinking it will be horrible, but everyone says the band is nice and supportive, as are the fans…I got this.
So, I go to the venue and watch some excellent music acts while waiting for the venue to open. My sister is there, honestly probably making me more anxious, since I felt responsible for her too. The music was great, some funny some sweet, and despite some people in the crowd being…a bit cliquish to say the least, everything seemed fine.
Justin came around, sweet Justin, and let a few of us know the songs we would sing. I checked my list.
Lake Ponchartrain, the song I had listened to several times that morning, the song I knew I could fake it through…was not present.
My logic was not applicable.
Save Our City was on the list next to my name.
A vocally demanding song, albeit one of my favorites.
Panic sets in. I smoke a cigarette, knowing it may not help the vocals, but it may help the nerves.
It does not.
Everything is blurry, the world is spinning, and honestly, so much of the rest of the day leading up to my sound check song, was a blur of panic.
My time comes, my heart rate has not gone below 150.
I can’t stop panicking; I am fighting back tears.
Tim (Convy) reassures me as I tell him my song, Andrew kindly tells me he will sing with me, and the song starts.
I remember the words, but panic floods my brain, Andrew sings with me, I look to him and Tim for guidance, singing a song I could sing from memory without music any OTHER day of the week. I look to the audience, looking for familiar or kind faces. Some smile reassuringly.
Some look at me with a look I can best describe as disdain or disgust. I ignore those faces, remembering my therapy with Yolanda. (For the record, the following is my thought process while mid panic attack cleverly disguised as singing, looking back, I doubt anyone was ACTUALLY looking at me in this way, and if they were it was likely not at ME. And if it was, for whatever reason, then the rest applies, but, really, looking at it calmly, I think this was just my anxiety – but if they WERE making mean faces-)
Fuck those faces. Fuck ANYONE not being supportive. They aren’t even singing, they aren’t experiencing the heart in my chest pounding out of control. They aren’t fighting agoraphobia. They aren’t fighting stage fright.
I love the theatre, I love the stage, my anxiety keeps me from performing. I sing stronger. Fuck anyone not being supportive, they aren’t in my size 6 doc martins. They aren’t VISIBLY shaking in their boots!
They are safe and comfortable with their judgey rude looks.
I sing on, scared, shaking, but ignoring anyone not smiling and supportive.
I sing well. Well, well enough anyways. I am not a professional singer and my throat was tight from panic, so I am not going to say I did well. The band all did, Andrew even telling me several times I was a good singer, to not let my anxiety get in the way. I told him he is kind, but I knew I sucked, but more than a few people told me while I was clearly nervous, I did sound okay, even with a shaking voice.
This experience was hard. I thought back to every time I have performed on stage. I only time I ever wasn’t nervous was when I had no time to be nervous. When I had to fill in for someone. The rest of the time, my nerves hurt me.
My nerves rule me. So often.
So, I tell myself I am going to work on this, work on it more. And next year, I will be better. Because scared as I was, and (possibly) judgey faces aside, I will do it next year.
“I will defeat the other guy” (my anxiety).
After soundcheck, I join up with my friends, take a picture with the band with my sister, and the gang, (Emilie, Steven, Ryan, along with Monica and myself) all head to moonrise for a drink. The bar is closed, but the manager lets us grab beers, Emilie suggests this great apple cider, and I calm down. My heart is still pounding, 130, but, not the height of what it had been, 190, or the steady average of the day, 150, so I take it.
We return, do the singalong, this time from the back, standing to save our hips and knees, and then, before long, we get in line for the concert. Saturday is my backstage night, so after the opening night, I head to the backstage door, learn the rules, and go backstage.
Backstage was fun, I was still incredibly anxious, but eventually I loosened up a little bit, enjoyed singing, vibed with cool people like Sarah and Chris, and got to sit for some of it, which my aching body enjoyed. We all cried during “Morning in May”, and I passed out tissues.
Funerals and concerts, and anything in between, I am always the girl with tissues.
After the concert, Emilie convinced us to go to the comedy show, even though I was ready to just pass out, and I am so grateful she encouraged me to do so.
Honestly, Saturday night is when I started to really appreciate the friendships I was building, they were truly taking me into their fold, and I was so thankful.
After the comedy show, we all head to our hotels/ AirBnB, Monica eventually makes her way to the hotel, and then, despite it being late and me being EXHAUSTED, I have trouble sleeping…again.
I was going to blow off Yoga with PMO Sunday Morning, but Emilie, wonderful Emilie, reminded me that a lot of people wanted to go, but not everyone got tickets, so, I should make the most of the experience, so, exhausted as I was, I went.
And once again, I was thankful to Emilie for insisting I come…but that is more for Sunday’s blog, so I will wrap this here!!!
Thanks for reading,