I’ve agonised over a way to get through this for many, many years. Should I call you and speak to you over the phone? Should I email you? Should we meet up over coffee?
The thing is, all those possibilities just fill me with dread. It’s not enough that I carry years of hurt and don’t know how to do with it, but that you’ve made yourself unapproachable for me kinda makes this doubly hard.
So, aaaaaaages ago, I thought maybe the only way for my own closure is to just type this stuff out in an email, and then just delete it. Don’t send it. But I’ve done that before with other people, other scenarios, and it’s just never worked. I dunno why. Maybe when I need it to be out there, I need it to be heard, before disappearing into the ether. It kinda makes sense; we all want to be heard, in some way. But ironically, I don’t even know if I want you to hear me.
But if you don’t hear me, that’s ok. I just feel that, after so many years, I should maybe have my little say.
I don’t know what I ever did to upset you, or make myself the target for your teasing and bullying, or why you thought I was sub-standard to everyone else you ever knew. I wish I DID know, because I’m honestly not sure why you let me stick around so long! I find that weird. One minute you would say we were best friends, and then the next you would be telling me I should quit cello and do something else instead.
That never, ever, ever stopped hurting.
Going through my music degree, which was pretty much everything I ever hated, I couldn’t understand why you would rip the shit out of my performance pieces, right in front of me. I couldn’t understand why you made a point of my degree not being a serious degree, just because I did it at a university and not a music college. It wasn’t great fun having you ask me why I didn’t have a full orchestra performing with my concertos, and instead just having some “unknown pianist who didn’t really give a shit about whatever the hell I played”.
Thing is, I know you had an awful time whilst you were at uni. I know your lecturers tormented you, and made you feel like shit. I know you were upset on a regular basis. I know of your performance anxieties, or “stage fright” if you will.
What I understand even less is how you treated me in orchestras. There were just SO. MANY. OCCASIONS. I just didn’t get it. Organising string octet performances and making sure no one ever mentioned them to me. Taking the piss every time I had a solo performance, knowing how nervous I was every time. You knew I had no confidence in myself, and you seemed to almost go out of your way to shred the tiny desperate glimmer of hope which remained in me. Why did you do that? Would I even understand now if you explained it to me? Would you understand?
When we went to Canada, I opened up to you about my depression. You asked me that classic line: why can’t you just cheer up? I humoured you, because I knew you didn’t understand at the time. Anyone who asks that question, doesn’t suffer from depression. And I don’t begrudge people asking that. Or at least, I didn’t back then, because we were only on the verge of turning 20, and had so much ahead of us to understand. I was at the worst of my depression on that trip with the orchestra. You knew I had just come out of the Mental Home after trying to take my life again. You knew how badly I wanted to play in orchestras. You saw my devotion to the youth orchestra; you couldn’t miss it. No one could. You knew I was on antidepressants…
Was that all against me? Was I not helping myself with that? Did you resent me for that? Should I have given up then, stepped away, not bothered you any more?
I didn’t bother you with my problems, I made sure not to do that. I didn’t lay my shit on you. I knew you weren’t interested. And that was cool too; I never ever was the sort of person who felt comfy laying shit on other people. You knew I was ill, and I suppose that was all you needed to know.
So, years later after we had both had our first child, and you confessed that you felt like you were suffering from depression, I tried to be there for you. Maybe you told me of it because you thought I would understand. I understood. I understood. Everything you said, I understood. You were very strong, running that orchestra, with me as one of your team members. (How did that even happen? Was I just gullible and easy to use? Maybe I’ll touch on that later.) And I worried for you. I genuinely worried for you. You took on so much with the orchestra, and was never quick to delegate tasks to the rest of us. I worried about how much you took on, and wanted to make sure you weren’t getting swamped. I wanted to make sure you had the support you need.
I had a chat with AB about you; I was so worried. I didn’t know how to talk to you, but I knew he talked to you all the time, and that he knew you (and I) well enough to understand. I told him I wanted you to have more help and support; that I was worried that you might get snowed under. I never ever told him the things you confessed to me.
In an email, I remember you spitting words at me. I remember you saying that I had told AB that you weren’t capable of running an orchestra. Apparently AB had passed on to you, that I didn’t think you had it in you, that you shouldn’t be in the position that you are in, and that pretty soon you were going to destroy yourself.
Why didn’t you talk to me, A? Do you think I would ever say things like that? Why would you ever think I would say things like that? How could you not see that I was worried about you? After the conversation about depression, how could you expect me to just sit back, not give a shit, not be worried that you weren’t getting more help and support? How could you think that I would suggest you were incapable of running the orchestra?
I wanted you to have more help. Despite the way you treated me, I was still concerned for you. In Canada, I told you I would never in a million years wish depression on anybody. That still applies. And I reiterated that when you confessed to me. I said the same thing again. And I said you could come to me any time.
I don’t understand.
Why did you think I demanded to be orchestra principal? Who told you that? Where did you get that piece of information? Why didn’t you ask me? Why didn’t you ask me what I thought, where I wanted to be, what role I wanted to play?
Being principal terrified me, and not once did I think I deserved it. I’d had principal cellist woes since I was maybe 11 years old. The day I became principal of an orchestra, looooooooooonnnng before I met you, taught me to be humble. I was always honoured to be in that position. And with such a weight on my shoulders, I took it as best as I could.
If you didn’t think I deserved to be there, then why did you put me there?
If everyone in the section hated me as much as you say they did, then why didn’t they tell me?
Why didn’t you tell me?
Why did you keep dragging me along, for so many years, leaving me to think I was doing sort-of kinda ok?
There are so many things I don’t understand. There are so many answers I think I might still need. But the saddest thingI deal with right now, only came to light late last week.
I picked up my violin (not even my cello!) just to play some old folk crap. And then I started playing along with a piece I think we had worked on, one time. And something you said popped into my mind. And then another, and another, and another. Maybe 2 minutes after that first thought (I can’t even remember what it was, there were so many more which pummelled me in those 2 minutes which seemed to go on forever), I put down the instrument, turned off the music, and cried. Hard. I think I physically crumbled.
I don’t understand what was happening.
And I don’t know how to deal with that.
What I do know, is that I need closure. Sadly, I know that I will never ever get that from you. I tried to be friends with you, and I have this horrible feeling that you never wanted a friend, you wanted a toy. Like an old football that you can kick around, and then kick aside when you’ve had enough.
I think I was very gullible, and very stupid. And I wish so much that I had woken up sooner.
I wish I had gotten angry sooner, maybe that would have helped me move on faster. Hell, maybe it would have helped me move on at all. I am not sure I ever got angry at you though. I was upset, so very upset. And sad. And sometimes I felt sorry for you. But mostly I think, just sad and confused. I spent so much time wondering what, exactly, had I done wrong. I still don’t know.
When you sent that last email to me, full of accusations, of things I had done wrong (which I didn’t even know I had done wrong), I didn’t argue back. I think I should have done, I think I should have defended myself, I think I should have given my point of view. But I think that was the first time realised, after maybe nearly 10 years, that you were never going to hear me.
When you sacked me as principal cellist whilst I was on maternity leave, and gave no thanks for the endless advertising admin I put in for you, I think that was (finally!) when I realised there was no point in talking to you. I deleted your emails, I withdrew all my musical and administrational input, I shut down from playing music, I put my cello on ebay. It felt like you were coming to the close of a long-standing war with me, and I was done fighting a battle I a) didn’t understand, b) didn’t want to fight and c) didn’t even see coming in the first place.
Sometimes, I look at my dusty cello in the corner, and wonder if you felt happy with yourself after I quit everything. Did you feel like my weight was finally off your shoulders; that you wouldn’t have to bother with my crap any more. I could only guess yes; I had no other conclusions I could come to. There’s still sooooooo much more that I want to say, but I don’t think there’s any point. Or maybe this is the first layer of personal crap I am to wade through. The rest will come to surface later. Maybe I’ll be stronger, more ready for it, if and when it comes.
I’m exhausted now, and yet I still deal with echoes bullying and torment so many years later. How do I let go? I’m hoping this post helps. I haven’t named you, and those few who read my blog – well, I’m pretty certain they don’t know you. In the unlikely event you read this, I would never dream of getting answers from you. I don’t think I want an apology, I don’t think I want explanations, and I know for a fact I do not want to start arguing again.
This is my closure. Or at least, this is the start of my closure. I know you bitched about me to many people; I avoided doing that of you. I understand now why people were so weird with me toward the end of it all; I get that now. This is my outlet. This isn’t me bitching. This is me asking all the things I should have asked myself (and perhaps you!) so long ago.
So this is my closure, and I wish you well.