What’s a little public humiliation?…

Well, it happened again. Another very public anxiety attack. We can laugh about it now.

Or not.

Sigh.

The attack actually happened back in August. It has taken me this long to recover enough to write about it.

In August I rallied the courage to emcee for the first time at the major comedy club in the area. I had been putting this off… I had never done this before and I’m only just now, a couple of years into stand up, beginning to get over my severe stage fright. Hosting the show is an entirely different animal. As a comic, you must perform first, warming up the crowd, and then introduce each subsequent comic, making sure they stay to the set given minutes, give any announcements, and keep the flow of the show going.

I was already extremely nervous. My anxiety was beginning to climb days ahead of this show. I practiced my set, and my friend met me before the show to rehearse what to say to the audience–he had hosted several times. I was as ready as I was going to be.

I walked into the club and my friend that works there showed me the list of comics performing that night. At the end of the list were several names–add ons. My friend said that some headliner’s had shown up and asked to be on the show that night…and now the show was going to run long…and now we had to figure out how much time to allow everyone…and this is about the time my anxiety began to really escalate.

I went behind the stage and said hello to the comics back there and began to deep breathe. It didn’t help. Another friend came backstage to say hello before the show–he is a fairly well-known headliner–and pointed out a name on the list was a former winner of Star Search.

SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT

The show began and I went out first. I did my set but because I was so nervous I lost my shit. My voice was all squeaky. I began to shake. I could barely hold the microphone. I was dying on stage. And I had a whole, now really long show, to get through.

SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT

My friend, who was there to support me, the one that had practiced with me, kept running back to help me between comics. He was offering advice, like “Smile more!” and “More energy!” I heard “You are totally sucking it!!!” and became even more nervous–which I didn’t know was possible. I began to have tunnel vision. I was shaking so hard I had to hold the podium back stage to stand up. I almost vomited. On stage I very nearly backed into the wall, away from the audience. I don’t even know what the audience thought. I forgot a comic’s name on stage–and he had to yell it to me through the door. Jesus. I said to my supportive friend backstage, well, the worst just happened. Nothing else can go wrong now. He said oh, no–something else can always go wrong. NOT THE THING TO SAY TO ME ASSHOLE!!!!!! And just like that I went from extreme anxiety, to Thelma and Louise, over the cliff, not coming back, down the rabbit hole panic attack PTSD mode. It was over for me.

I had put so much pressure on myself as I knew that the owner of the club watched the show and determined if he would hire an emcee or feature act for the following year. I didn’t want to let him down, my friends down, or myself down. In the end–I did all of the above.

After the show, my friend that runs the club came back stage and asked me how I thought I had done. I knew instantly what that meant. I just started bawling. Like, ugly girl crying. It was horrible.

I ended up in the green room, on the couch with my supportive friend trying to calm me. It went like this:

Him: You know, I also suffer from depression and anxiety. You can’t let this get to you.
Me:(in my head) Not like this. And if you don’t shut up, I will punch you.
Him: Hey, the good news–you got to perform on one of the top four most important comedy stages in the United States! Not many people get to say that!
Me: (in my head) SHIT!! I JUST SCREWED UP ON ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STAGES IN THE U.S.!!!!

My friend that runs the club came back to check on me and also tried to comfort me. He said well, maybe you just weren’t meant to emcee… I heard YOU SUCK AND CAN’T EVEN BE AN EMCEE and started hyperventilating again. I had two men staring at the girl bawling on the couch, staring at each other, and you could just see they were trying to figure out what the F*** to do. Like, do we just kill her? Do we call someone? Ummmm….

The good news out of all of this is that I have really good friends. Friends that I can bawl in front of and they will still love me. I love them for this.

And, I have licked my wounded ego and gotten back up on stage. I haven’t hosted again, yet, but I will. Eventually. Someday.

Peace people.

 

Special parents

Today I took my son to his Special Olympic swimming practice. Every Saturday, from February to the end of May, he swims for an hour and a half, practicing all his strokes. The rest of his Special Olympic swim team gang are there as well…all shapes and sizes of young adults, with their own “special abilities.”

As I encouraged my son, up and down the lane, yelling at him to kick his legs, to look out for his friend, to avoid collision..I couldn’t help but think of my friends and their children. I have one friend that has a son that is a gifted hockey player. Already the big leagues are looking at him..and he is still young. I have listened to her talk about her weekends spent driving to this place or that, hockey game this and that…and nodded and smiled.

I have secretly wondered how she, or any of my friends, would handle having a child like my son. I have wondered how I am handling having a son like my son. My friends with neurotypical children talk about dance recitals and sporting events, vacations and dinners so easily…I am so envious. And I know that envy is a terrible emotion to have. But it’s true. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I felt this way, at least a little, some of the time.

I mean, the freedom to just go to an event…without first knowing what kind of food will be there. How long it will take. How long will your child have to wait between events..and what you will be able to provide as entertainment in between..to know if a place has wifi..and to make plans if it doesn’t..to have a plan in place in case your child has a public meltdown..which, let’s face it, can be ugly in an 18 year old, 6 ft 1 inch boy..to have all the safety measures in place–to just be able to go someplace with a child without having to worry about all of that..that kind of freedom is something I haven’t seen in 18 years. And something most parents of neurotypical children take for granted.

This doesn’t make me any less proud of my son’s accomplishments in the pool–on the contrary, I think it makes me more proud as I recognize how difficult it was for him to win that ribbon. It takes some real concentration for a child with autism to swim to the end of a lane, touch the end and swim all the way back..without being distracted by the ongoing story or voices in their head.

My son will never be picked to play a pro game, make millions of dollars, and buy me a car. My son is on Social Security and Disability. My son will need care the rest of his life. His brief victories are even more celebrated as a result.

So, hockey moms and dads–you rock, soccer parents–you roar–but we Special Olympic’s parents…we keep it real. We are the real winners here. So I will continue to smile at my friends when they talk about their children. And I will continue to bite my tongue and not mention how my son flooded the bathroom once again, and how I had to walk thru toilet water for the third time in a day. I will smile at my friends, tell them congratulations, and if asked, tell them my son swims. And that he does it damn well. He has the ribbon to prove it.

They say I have a few issues….

I suppose I should start by saying hi. So, hi. Or, hey, if you’re like me and from the midwest. I’m living here in Michigan, the Great Lakes State. Cherry Capitol of the world. We like to say we don’t have an accent, but we do. Mine comes out more when I’m mad, and it’s different than the dialect here in the Detroit area. ┬áBut I digress. I do that a lot. Anyway, I’m 47 years old, and I am the mother of 4 children. Two girls and two boys. I would fight a bear for my kids but there are days….there are days I could just get into my car and just drive away…anywhere…just for a day…just to clear my head…for a minute of clarity….I never would, or I would have done it by now. A million and one times by now. My oldest daughter is a 25. She is a teacher and lives out of state. My 17 year old son is autistic. And not in the Rainman savant, so it’s really not that bad kind of way. He is autistic in the if he gets angry he can break some shit sort of way. I will write more on these two later. There is so much more to them. My autistic son is also my most affectionate child, so there’s that. I also have two more children that I adopted from Africa. Because, why wouldn’t I add more to my plate? My daughter is 17 and my son is 10. They were 14 and 10 when we were finally able to bring them home. Oh, yeah, did I mention I was going through treatment for breast cancer when we had to travel to get the children from Sierra Leone? Yeah, that was cool…or that I’m a registered nurse? With PTSD from an interesting childhood and life events? Or that I have some depression on occasion….no kidding… Yeah….so….I figure, I can only see my therapist once a week…and writing makes me feel better. I’ve got some shit to say. I’ve seen some things. I’ve learned a few lessons. I’m still learning them. So, I’m pulling up the laptop and tapping out some stuff here. Most of it should be funny, because I have a fairly disturbed, darkly twisted sense of humor. That happens when you’re raised by wolves in a small town. I have learned to see the humor in nearly every instance, as a means of survival. So, if you spin a little differently than the average bear; if you have a child with special needs; if you have a multi racial family; adoption issues; mother issues; abandonment issues; anger issues–stay tuned, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. This is about to get real.