If you’ve ever seen the film Amadeus, you’ll remember that one of the most moving and human aspects of it is Antonio Salieri and his destructive jealousy of Mozart. This is something I’ve been empathising with poignantly over the past few weeks (actually, my whole life) and has been making me cry myself to sleep for too long so I have to get it out there into the universe so maybe it will make me better and stop raking me over the coals.
Let me start properly by telling you that I used to sing. I mean, I could really sing, with every blood cell in my short and stubby body. It was everything to me and it gave me such joy in life. Even when everything else was crumbling around me and life felt unbearable, I would just sing and I’d feel better. I think it made me not feel so alone. After all, you don’t need anyone to be able to sing… I was in choirs, I did duets but I did solos too and the confidence burst that you get when people clap or give you chances to excel like that is unlike anything else in life. That was all I wanted in life – to sing. Don’t mistake me for someone who thinks they could sing professionally but it was my main hobby and pastime. I’d get to school first and leave school last to sing.
My best friend is a fantastic singer and when we used to perform together, my life made complete sense and I was happy. Even though he never sung with me willingly and I had to drag him to every rehearsal and concert, it meant something that he validated me when we performed together so successfully. It was a time when I was alive, when I could feel the breath come and go as I sang to people who cared. Now, I’ve lost him to better and brighter things – namely, a band. How am I supposed to compete with that? I can’t – that’s how – and I’m painfully tired of trying.
The singing stopped after I passed my Grade 8 and joined university. I realised what I was truly gifted at was being an MD because I know how to make music. I know how it should reverberate in the air and carry on until it stabs your very soul. I lost the ability to produce music like that myself but I found I knew precisely how to draw that kind of passion and emotion out of others; it’s one of the things that reaffirmed my belief that I was born to teach but that is the brief outline of how my music died.
After you’ve been told so many times that you’re rubbish and are shown by your closest friends whom you trust with your body, your heart and your soul, but was foolish to trust with your voice and asked what the point of singing is and how it’s going to earn you a penny, you begin to learn that singing is for nothing and that you really have nothing special, unique or worth valuing. Much like young children who witness something traumatic lose the ability to speak despite the fact that nothing physical has affected their vocal chords, I know without a shadow of a doubt that something psychosomatic is changing my singing ability and making me sound like a dying cat anytime I sing.
You can’t imagine the pain I go through whenever I have to sing because I have things to get off my chest that simply won’t be alleviated through writing this blog or talking to people, and I hear myself sound like a poor entry to The X Factor. More than anything (except a family of my own) I pray for God to return my voice to me and give me back that particular thing that I’ve lost. I can deal with the loss of my mother’s love, the loss of my home and friends, even the loss of my sanity (though that ship may have been lost at sea…) but I’m truly not sure I can take another night of singing myself to sleep and singing my heart out only to comprehend innately that it’s just one more thing on the long list of things at which I suck.
Now, to wind this post down, I go back to Amadeus and Salieri. In the film, Salieri is depicted as a man who struggles with self-worth, a fruitless relationship with the Almighty, overwhelming jealousy and homicidal tendencies. All of these aspects of his life are what makes him so similar to me and in no small part, warns me of things I struggle with now and will continue to battle for the remainder of my natural life. I’m not implying that I’ll go about killing people who are better singing or end up in Bedlam but my tendency to truly hate and envy those who have not lost their talent (yet!) worries me and I recognise it is a true destructive force in my life. That is something that has to change and who knows, maybe one day I’ll find my voice again and life will be tolerable.