When I was a child, my father played classical music records all the time. In fact he made a point of rushing into the house when Mom brought me home to put Beethoven on the stereo to make sure that was the first music I heard.
One day I was singing along to the music. I’d heard it all my life by that point, and I knew most of the works by heart. When he heard me sing, instead of being happy that his child shared an appreciation for his music, he shouted “Let the musicians play!”
I suspect he had no idea how damaging this was. It has been 40 years and I still remember how much shame I felt from hearing those words
The “musicians” weren’t live. He could pick up the needle on the record and play that piece again. He couldn’t replay the joy of hearing his child. I was live. They were recorded.
I think about his childhood, what would have made him do that.
I remember him telling me stories of how he would have to listen to his classical records in the closet. His parents thought that he was wasting his time. Perhaps they thought that he wasn’t being manly enough. I can remember he told me that he would secretly buy records.
Imagine being made to feel shame for buying and playing classical music, like it is the same as doing illegal drugs.
He wanted to be a conductor. He was taught that was not something to aim for. It wouldn’t support a family. It wasn’t practical.
He kept his love of classical music, but dropped his dream. He had a family and barely had enough money to support them.
I think we always hope that we aren’t going to be like our parents, but it is very hard. We try to remember all the things they did wrong and we resolve to not do them, but it is hard to undo our programming.
Especially when we don’t realize we’ve been programmed.
My father never did this work. He never dug down into himself, into his history. He never faced his fears and his brokenness. He was sad a lot. It was called depression, but that is just another name for sad.
He was sad because he wasn’t allowed to be himself. His parents were told the same story, and I suspect their parents were told the same.
The story was this – Don’t be yourself. Don’t be different. Fit in. Go for the safe route, the sure thing.
He didn’t remember them shaming him. So he shamed me for showing joy at something he loved. He was taught this. So then he did it to me.
To this day I cannot listen to classical music without crying.