Dance Class

I am a member of a belly dance troupe and tonight at practice I learned that one of my troupe sisters is applying for a part-time job at an office of my previous employer. Of course my first thought is, Oh no! You don’t want to do that! But people have to figure out things for themselves.

And some of the offices and some of the jobs are doable. Many people still enjoy their jobs with this employer. I asked some pertinent questions about which office, which job, would they provide a vehicle, and determined that she will probably be okay. I ended up encouraging her while at the same time it was breaking my heart AGAIN that I was NOT okay working for that same employer. My mind automatically went to: if only I had worked in a smaller office, if only my boss had my back, if only my co-workers had my back, if only it had mattered that my customers liked me a lot, and that I worked hard, and that I was loyal…. If only I had seen the place for what it was much, much sooner.

Having to give up that terrible job broke my heart in the same way that every other rejection in my life also broke my heart. They really didn’t like me! How can that be? That was my life for nearly twelve years. I gave it everything I had to give. In the end, I meant nothing to that place and most of those people. I must have thought I was earning some kind of value or a spot in that world. Except they didn’t come through on their part of a bargain that only existed in my own imagination.

I’ve done a lot of reading and sitting and thinking this year. One neat thing I learned about from reading a Dear Abby column. I don’t remember what the letter writer asked but the answer had to do with something called “Emotional Starvation.” This occurs when the parents never instill a sense of “mattering” in their infant child. Then later on as the child grows they go about life with this lack that they probably don’t even know they have. They will seek out people and situations that make them feel like they matter. When the people leave or the situations end, the emotionally starved person is devastated.

In my case, my parents didn’t know how to give this sense of mattering to their children. My father was mildly autistic and my mother is somewhat narcissistic. Each of them, in different ways and for different reasons, just couldn’t see beyond their own narrow experience. They couldn’t meet others halfway let alone enter a child’s world in order to raise them with a sense that they mattered.

I think that I do everything with this mistaken idea that I must earn the right to exist and that this right is only granted by the approval of others who may or may not care about anyone other than themselves. Crap.

Anyway, practice tonight went fine even though I was feeling the depression strongly and was out of sorts thinking about that terrible job. I have been belly dancing for about seven years now. It has become a part of who I am. Sometimes it even takes my mind off myself!

We practiced for a performance we have in a week and a half. It will be ten minutes and four dances in between the first and second musical acts of a local fund-raiser. We are donating our performance, which we often do just to get to perform. This performance is going to be hard for me, though. I almost declined to participate. I didn’t want to have to run into people I might know from any of my old lives. I am perfectly happy to perform out of town or for nursing home residents. But I am afraid to perform for people who I believe will be critical or disrespectful like former co-workers or my mother or people from good old golden school days. Some of my troupe sisters know this will be hard for me. But I agreed to do it and I will do it. I might not ever dance in town again, though! This might be a limit I don’t need to push.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Dance Class

  1. Wow, does that strike a chord. I don’t want to analyze my childhood, but certainly I know that feeling of devastation when others in my group (whatever group it is, be it work or choir or whatever) make me suddenly realize that I’m the only one who signed up to the deal in my head. It’s a long road to the sense that I only have to be myself to be worthwhile. It seems like every time I think I’m there, something new comes up and I have a strong emotional reaction. Sometimes I talk myself around fairly quickly afterwards, and feel stronger for it.
    So I hope you are able to enjoy the performance, and not let the idea of others judging you get in the way. Remember, THEY are not performing, risking public scrutiny. They are not being brave. After doing it once in this situation, maybe the next one will be easier. ::hugs::

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  2. Thanks, Julie! I am determined for this to be enjoyable on some level. I keep reminding myself that dancing with my troupe means I am surrounded by real supporters. We do have each others’ backs! When I agreed to do this one, I knew it would kind of feed my doubts. I guess I decided I am ready for this particular lesson. Not always fun, though!

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  3. Gloria

    I cannot believe how your posts echo exactly what has happened to me. I, too, grew up with a narcissistic stepmother (my mother having died when I was 4) and a distant, functioning alcoholic father, which left me with severe worthiness issues. I left my last job after almost 12 years also, for the same reasons; my coworkers did not have my back, like I had theirs. Good for you for finding an outlet for your creativity and a group that does have your back. Thank you for this post.

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    • Hi Gloria! For about the last year at that terrible job, I would actually say to people who I thought would listen, that nobody here has my back. Even the people who I thought would listen, didn’t really get it. It seems to me that if that kind of dynamic or bond doesn’t click in right away, you can’t make it happen no matter what you do. A new person came in about eight years ago, and she was a problem for me immediately. It seemed that nobody else liked her either. They could see with their own two eyes what was going on and frequently commented on it. But…. when push came to shove, they took her side, not mine. It was just like a grade school playground in there.

      As far as the parents…. I was able to come to terms with my father before he died. My mother is a work in progress. Here I am wanting to work on myself and sometimes it is like she is the kid and I am the parent. Truly have to do this thing myself.

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