Tuesday, April 6, 2010


My fingers touched the keys trying to feel some familiarity, but it wasn’t there. There was silence in the parlor of the old Victorian style home of my piano teacher. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as they waited with great expectation. I began playing. For a moment it felt that everything was okay, until I could hear whispers. I heard the music I was playing and I did not recognize it. My first thought was to run out of the room, but decided I had better finish.

I kept playing hoping that the disaster I was creating was just a dream, but I knew it wasn’t. I felt horrible and ashamed and I hoped I would never see these people again. I wasn’t sure that I could do anything right as my world came tumbling down. “I am so stupid.” I thought.

I had failed in front of my teacher, all the other students and their parents, and, what was worse I was the only one that made such a spectacle. I did not know what to expect from my parents, but I could only imagine their humiliation and shame. I was sure that my teacher was angry, but I would have to deal with her later.

I was eight and my parents wanted me to follow in my sister’s footsteps. My sister was good at playing the piano. Not only did she excel at her lessons, but she could also play by ear. I always knew when she had heard a new tune. She would run in the house, so she would not forget the tune, dash to the piano and play the song . But that was my sister.


When we arrived home after the recital, my parents told me that I had been on the wrong keys through the whole song. As my mother put it, ever so kindly, “That’s okay. All you need to do is sit and look pretty.” I know she wanted to console me. I did not have the talent to play the piano. I let my parents down, humiliated and disappointed them, especially my father. He had bought me several John Phillip Sousa music books thinking that I would actually play them.

It was as though there was nothing left for me to do. My goal may as well have been exactly what my mother said, to sit there and look pretty. I don’t think my parents, after the recital fiasco, believed I could do anything. They never seemed to understand that even if I couldn’t play the piano (after all not everyone can), I could do other things. To them it was the piano or nothing. The one good thing that came out of this was that I never had to play the piano again.


There was no doubt in my mind that my parents felt I was a loss cause. My self-esteem dropped to the lowest point. I knew I was not as good as my sister. My parents had given up hope for me.

At that point I felt rejection and I felt my parents loved my sister more. I would have to find something to prove that I was as good as my sister. But I couldn’t. My parents were not going to let me take dance classes or any other classes so I could show them something that I could do. Something that would make them proud of me.


I soon learned that it would be impossible to make up for the piano recital disaster. My parents had stated how they felt about my ability to play the piano, and the fact that they had wasted a lot of money on the classes I took. I was really in trouble.

I had wanted to show them by taking dance classes that I could do well and that they could be proud of me, but they would not even discuss it.

Three patterns developed from this situation: I could not do what I wanted, the money for anything I wanted would not be available to me, and I did not follow through on anything I started.

I knew I could not change their minds about dance classes, but in junior high school I wanted to try out for cheerleading. My parents seemed to have a very good memory and they reminded me of the piano recital. They also explained that the uniforms, for cheerleading were too expensive.

I had built quite a reputation based on one failed piano recital. They didn’t trust me, they didn’t believe I was worth it--nor did they believe I would follow through.


As I am an adult, making my own choices and decisions I find that these beliefs still have a pivotal effect on my life.

A number of years ago I decided I would take the dance classes that my parents stopped me from taking. I found that I loved to dance and excelled. Then the beliefs must have hit me in the head and heart because I came up with excuses. I decided that I didn’t have the money for the classes and the costumes. That I didn’t have the time for classes and rehearsals. In other words, my beliefs stopped me from finding creative expression and something I was good at.

The same thing happened when I went into Real Estate. I conjured up every bit of logic I could think of that would make me fail. I finally reasoned that I did not want to do it anyway, so why bother. What I should have done was to find another Real Estate Company to work for. One that would train me and had willing agents and mentors.

To prove to myself and others that I can follow through, I stay in demeaning low-paying jobs long after I know I should quit, as I am in the job I have now. It is miserable and the hours have been cut tremendously, but I keep trying to hold on.


It is extremely difficult and unproductive to continue living with the restrictions my parents placed on me. Therefore, to transform and change my doubts, and the unnecessary and debilitating beliefs, I must let go of the stigma surrounding the piano recital.

I now believe that I can do whatever I want. I follow through when doing what I love. I always have enough money to provide anything that I want. I am deserving. I am worthy. I am good enough.

Writing posts for this blog is the first thing I’ve ever creatively done, enjoyed and followed through on. For me this is a very big accomplishment.

  • When you feel you are unduly criticized or a statement is made that lowers your self-esteem, do you believe yourself or them?
  • Do you lose hope? Do you feel like giving up?
  • Can you remember a time when failure consumed you?
  • Are you willing to accept constructive criticism?

1 comment:

  1. Your parents limited beliefs, that there is only but a few worthy aspirations or skills perpetuated a judgment that if someone does not possess these few particular skills then they do not merit their attention. They dismiss anything outside their limited view. Their response or lack thereof, that you believed was about you, was really just their response to life in general and about their narrow assessment of what is important.
    Your parents acted from their own limiting beliefs, they did not act from knowing who you really are.
    It was not ever about your limitation sweetie it was about their own limitations.

    I must say now JoAnna that you write well. You describe the scenarios well. As a writer, I offer a few pointers’, which could enhance your already possessed skills, but will not offer them unless you desire me to do so.

    I cannot help but to act from being who I really am; a teacher. If I am out of line please let me know. That being said, I say that if you are to leave the painful past behind, but also feel you must write your life story Novel then do it now, get it behind you as quickly as possible and move onto writing for the present; tell a new life story, the one you prefer. Giving attention to the past, continually, only keeps the old life alive, active and affirms who you believed you were in the past.

    I say this from a loving place. I say this because I believe in your ability, your desire for self love and the admirable quality you possess of articulating, to others, that they are more than their beliefs.
    Remember to focus on that which you desire to be your experience.
    Be Well
    Love Michelle