Monday, August 5, 2013

On my shelf I have a few trophies,

On my shelf I have a few trophies, some from little league baseball and soccer.  Though not a gifted athlete I had the good fortune to play on teams that had good athletes and a few of those trophies are from championships.

The one trophy I am most proud of and most anxious about is one that says...

Outstanding Male Vocal
Coral Mair

First, I should explain that as a boy I idolized my father and tried for a time when I was five to go by my middle name "Coral" because that was my dad's name.  I even brought up to parents the idea that they legally change my name to Coral John Mair Jr.  So when I went off to SUU for a year I decided to go by my middle name.  No one there was the wiser and it was fun.  I am proud of it.

I had the chance to sing a lot that year at SUU and after a lead role in the Music Departments production of Amelia Goes To The Ball, I received a lot of praise and recognition.  Most people didn't realize it then but I was beginning to burn out.  I jumped into the music department with both feet.  2 choirs, marching band, concert band, the opera.  Outside of the department I also participated in Sigma Gamma Chi as a pledge and during that time was volunteered to lead a group to sing in the Campus Gong Show and compete in the Mister SUU mock-pageant.  I love performing.  I love music but I began to be afraid of not being good enough.

One day the ballots were passed around one of my many music classes for the departmental awards.  I was horrified to see my name on the list.  I made no secret of the fact that I did not deserve the honor it should go to someone who had studied longer, a junior or senior, not a freshman.  I actually campaigned against myself with what little time I had that day.  After turning my own sheet in, my vote cast for a junior who had a dark, baritone voice with a lot of maturity, I saw my friend, fellow chorister, former drum major, senior,and the bass singer from the opera, Geoff Anderson.  I told him right away if he hadn't turned his sheet in to make sure not to vote for me for Male Vocal. 

He said he did turn it in and he had voted for me and that everybody he knew was voting for me as well.  SUU had such a small department that pretty much everyone he knew was everyone I had been campaigning to not vote for me.

I said, "Why?  That should go to a more seasoned soloist a junior or senior."  

He told me that it didn't say anything about how much the singer contributed to the department over years, it didn't say who spent the most time in the practice rooms, it was for the OUTSTANDING MALE VOCAL.  I was the one who provided it that year in his opinion and apparently the rest of the department agreed (including the professors, who also got a vote).

I still look at it and think that It shouldn't have been me.  That thought had a huge impact on my decision to transfer to Weber State after I returned home from my mission.  That thought was a big reason why I preferred to sing in the Concert Choir while I was there.  I only tried out for Chamber Choir once and I did so mostly on the encouragement of a friend who was auditioning as well.  I didn't practice hard for the audition nor did I try to sing my best when I sang for Dr. Henderson either.  

I'm even more petrified of not being good enough now.  Most of my Friends from Salt Lake Vocal Artists don't know the fear I had of joining that group.  Of having to acclimate myself to a new social setting.  Of being afraid of not being good enough.  Of fearing to be noticed when I made a mistake.  I would become ill before a rehearsal.  I had headaches.  My bowels would stop working correctly.  I made it through because of the sheer enjoyment of the music.  When we were actually singing,  I could be at peace, as long as we were singing I had to control my breathing.  The music would flow over me and calm me.  In part it's what started helping me to cope.

When I lost my business and started also being the father of a teenager, those challenges began to make my fears spread to more and more parts of my life.  Singing with the Vocal Artists became my life raft.  But only if we were in the group.

I auditioned for a musical.  I nearly backed out before call backs.  The Musical was Sweeney Todd, I was cast as the Judge.  A big role.  I used my son's learning disability as an excuse to back out before rehearsals began.  The Vocal artists were planning tours that I really didn't have the money to go on so I didn't sign up that fall.  By January my wife said we'd make it work so I could go because at least she recognized how much I needed the group.  I was afraid to go but the music was enough to calm me so I could handle it.

Dr. Allred pulled me aside one night and asked if I would look over a solo in one of the pieces, it was very small and at that time none of his regular soloists were committed for the Bulgaria/Turkey tour.

My response was something like, "...oh I don't know...I haven't done a serious solo for years.....Well yeah I guess I will look at it....."  I paraphrase but you can get the gist.

Certainly if I had done the asking and that was the response I got, I would have been worried.  Luckily for me and for the choir one of the regulars agreed to go soon after.  I learned the part just in case but was confident I wouldn't be called on to do it.

A few weeks later I received an email, asking me to be the Bass section leader for the tour group.  I began to write a reply saying no but my wife was reading over my shoulder and made me say yes.  Every sectional was like when I first joined Vocal Artists.  I would feel like I was going to be sick, I would have a headache,  I acted confused, I leaned heavily on the other members of the sectional to help me.  We made it there.  The tour was wonderful.  Of course I'm glad I went. 

I attended the conducting workshop put on by the Choral Artists organization and taught by our conductor, who intimidates me.  Anyone I look up to and respect does, it's not their fault it's my issue.  I had headaches all that week.  Every class, for me, was worse that watching a week long marathon of slasher movies.

 I asked a few people from the group to look at some compositions I had written.  I sent the request for one by Facebook message and afterward I stayed in bed for a whole day thinking I had made the worst mistake of my life.  That I had done something truly embarrassing or that would be considered to be such a horrible imposition that I had ruined my friendship with that person forever. When they finally responded, it helped to calm me down that they were very gracious and said they would look at some things for me when they had time.  I was just so glad I hadn't lost a friend.  I still haven't given the manuscripts to that person.  I have a feeling that unless I get control of this problem I never will.  Just asking for the favor from someone I respected made me think I was going to die.

I have always planned to return to college when my children were all in school but since my income is not one we intend to rely on I also do not want to go into debt to do so as we are already still paying off lots of debt from the failed business.

I have thought of many ways to pay for college but I thought if I got a part-time job and took just a class at a time for the next little while I could handle it.  This past Thursday I typed up my resume, groomed, dressed,  and tried to convince myself to go to a career fair in Salt Lake.  When one little thing went wrong just before I was to leave, I lost control of it all again.  I have been mostly in bed since.  I deactivated my Facebook account because I was afraid to have anyone read any of my posts or anything about me.  I haven't been able to answer the phone, unless it's my wife or kids, for days.  I can't answer the door.  Everything makes me afraid.  Even writing this.  I'm debating right now deleting this and never letting anyone see it.

If you're reading it then I overcame it for now.

I realize now that I haven't just had a bad year but there's something else wrong with me.  The bad year has just magnified it.  Brought it bubbling to the surface.  Made it so that fear that I've kept hidden so well, (I bet most of you didn't know I had it or that it was this bad) that fear, can be recognized for as being the root of a lot of my problems even the depression.

I typed everything I was afraid of into Google and overwhelmingly they seem to match Social Anxiety Disorder.  Maybe it's not,  I'm going to make an appointment to find out.  I'm not gonna let my friends and more importantly, my family, my wife and kids, see me like this anymore.  I want to remember what it was like when I was headstrong and a bit cocky and loved to stand up and sing solos all the time.  I want to be able to sleep at night because I wasn't laying in bed all day, because I feel safe there.  I want to get out and run again and workout again.  I want to get a part-time job.  I want to go back to school.   I REALLY want to take private voice lessons again. 

I don't want my wife to have to be my personal secretary because I'm afraid of talking on the phone, afraid of leaving a voice mail and even afraid of listening to a voice mail.

Until then, understand if I don't respond to a phone call.  Every time I get one there's a little war going on inside me, the one that wants to pick up because your are a friend or family, and the deep dread of having to carry on a conversation.  I do better with texts or emails, but I may not be able to respond to those either.
Leave a voice-mail if you must, understand that I will mostly likely have to read the Google translation of it and it helps if you use your best diction if not at least the results are sometimes amusing.  If you see my car in the driveway and want to stop by you can try, but right now, I can't answer the door.  I might be okay if my kids are there to answer but know that even if I come to the door I'm crawling out of my skin, even if I carry-on a conversation  I'm positive I'm going to throw up the whole time, even though I never do.

I figured out I have a problem but only just recently and haven't seen anybody yet for it.  I don't have the coping skills yet.  Please be patient with me.



  1. Tim, I admire your courage in writing this so much! And I am so proud of you for starting this process. I don't know if you've heard through the family grapevine, but I started taking Zoloft a few months ago and it is so amazing to be able to feel like I can just get out of bed in the morning or have a normal conversation with a friend. I don't know how it feels to be in your particular shoes, but I do know how terrifying it is to realize that something's wrong and you're not sure how to fix it. I'm cheering for you from the sidelines here--and you're in my prayers. Hang in there!

  2. I had seen you post about that, when I was on Tina's profile sending myself something in Candy Crush, a mindless addiction that one of the two most amazing accompanists I know got me hooked on. It's probably her only flaw because she has perfect pitch. Anyway. I was surprised. But none of us is the first. my anxieties about all of this stuff I always was able to just control as eccentricities but the last year was hard on me and my coping mechanisms broke down. The rough year we had seems to have amplified it all and sometimes I just can't function. Thanks for sharing Rachael.
    I seem to do better if I can post where I know people can see it. I was keeping a journal when things got tough but it turned into such a laundry list of faults and scathing epithets, directed at myself, that it was just helping me bottle things up more. I could pull it out and beat myself up whenever I felt like it and nobody ever knew. That's why when I realized I needed to still have an outlet I decided to kind of bare it to the world it possibly makes things seem like I'm more miserable than I am. I have good moments too, but it's keeping me a little more honest with myself and letting me get things down in a way that can be more productive.
    Sorry about all the drama with the family too. That's a raw nerve still. I'll get it worked out. Thanks again, Rachael