When I was a little girl, our family was in a musical theater group. We performed Gilbert and Sullivan productions every year. The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe, Patience, were a few. My mother, father, twin brother and I were part of this theater for my entire childhood. I very much loved to sing. I loved to perform. I loved peeking out behind the curtain to see the audience and feeling excited that all of the seats were filled. When we weren’t waterskiing, we were practicing for our next musical production. Singing and music was very freeing to me. We had a full orchestra at our performances. We lived in a tiny town and the theatrical productions were some big entertainment! Unless you wanted to drive 45 minutes to see the theater groups in the big town. We always had a full house. We always got standing ovations. I felt famous in my fairy costume taking a bow.
I loved the costumes. I loved the make up. Being a little girl on stage felt so…special. I always felt like I was somebody when I was on the stage. When I stepped off I felt like I was just little me. There was a man in the productions who always wore a hat. To every rehearsal and practice, he wore his hat. He seemed very sophisticated to me with his hat. He seemed magical, this man. He would just appear out of nowhere and always brought a calm when he was there. He always tipped his hat when he saw me and said hello to me like I was an adult. Do you ever wonder where the people go from your memories? What happened to my man with the hat? Does he remember me as fondly as I remember him?
My parents had cassette tapes of the productions and we would listen to them in the car and at home. I memorized every song for every part, even the major roles. I konw every word to every song we sang in those productions to this day. I sing a Japanese song from the Mikado anytime I want to rile up my daughter because she finds it odd that I can remember a song in Japanese that I sang when I was probably only 5. I loved to sing. I loved that our family did this together.
I lost my desire to sing after I was abused. I have no idea why. I just noticed one day that I didn’t sing anymore. I didn’t sing to the radio. We didn’t do productions at the theater anymore. Music just didn’t feel the same to me. A few times in my early 20’s I tried to sing again but it never felt the way it used to, free and unencumbered.
I did still love to perform though. My waterskiing job at Seaworld was a lot like our theater. We were performing for big groups of people and I felt…special. The crowd would clap when I came on stage after my ski tricks and I would bow and feel…famous. Then I would step off the stage and go back to…little me.
It wasn’t until my daughter was born that music found it’s way back into my heart. I sang her lullabies. Every night I sang her many many lullabies. My husband often snuck in to hear me sing to her. Singing made me feel special again with my audience only being my husband and my baby. My role as a mother and wife was real. It wasn’t just a production or a performance with a costume. I pretended to be special then. I actually felt special singing songs to my daughter. It didn’t have to be me pretending to be someone else in a production to feel important. I knew I was important to my little girl and my husband. Being a mom feels like a real superstar. Having an audience watch you perform will never compare to having your little girl look up at you as you sing her to sleep. So, I sang and I sang and I sang to her. And sure enough, 20 years later, she is a singer herself. She has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. And, she LOVES musicals.
Tonight we watched Beauty and the Beast. The costumes were brilliant and they reminded me of the costumes I used to wear and love. There was a man with the same hat as MY man with the hat. I watched the whole movie remembering my family and the music and how much I loved to sing. I’m glad that my daughter brought back my voice to me. Losing the music in your heart and the song from your lips is like watching a bird in a cage and wishing someone would let him be free. Abuse can take away that joy. Singing again put that one little piece of joy back that was taken. Abuse cannot take everything, and for the things it does take, you can add them back one at a time. Some things. Singing a lullaby to my child put back a piece that was taken. Music finally found its way back to me.