Last night I went to see Authority Zero perform music from their upcoming CD, Stories of Survival. The venue allowed minors and I took my 11 and 13 year old daughters. My husband did not accompany us as he was on a business trip but we did meet up with another family (whose mom is a rock band photographer and introduces us to lots of music, including this group). It was my children’s first rock concert experience.
In the manner of rock concerts, it was raucous, boisterous, and crowded. As the night went on, the mosh pit got crazier—the show actually stopped briefly because some other family was letting their toddler and two other young children surf the pit and one fell down—and the crowd got drunker and louder. The longer I was there, the more agitated and anxious I became. I’m never very comfortable in crowds but I was sitting well back from the action where the other family’s dad took all the kids. So I was a little bewildered by where this agitation was coming from.
The first clue about whence this anxiety arose happened earlier in the night as we were standing around waiting for a table and my daughters got thirsty. I had to go to the bar myself and order drinks. When I procrastinated, one daughter asked what the problem was since I’d “been to these sorts of things before, even after I got out of the bubble” (the family term for living in the bubble of fear that caused my parents to raise us in such a legalistic Christian lifestyle). I had to admit I’d never ordered my own drinks at a bar; there had always been some more worldly girlfriend or the man I was with who would unwittingly keep me just that little bit separated from “going all the way” into bar depravity.
By the time the show had to stop to pull those children out of the mosh pit, I was pulling out all my tricks to keep from disintegrating into a full-on anxiety attack. Feelings of shame clutched at my gut. Fear clenched the muscles in my neck. And that pissed me off! I was hardly doing anything wrong or ill-considered. Our children were well-supervised, well-educated about safety; exit strategies had been reviewed. No one in our party had even had a drink, so there was absolutely no reason to think our children were being neglected or endangered. Why did I feel as though I had introduced them to Evil?
It wasn’t the music itself since we listen to rock of all kinds at home without triggering this anxiety. Even when I was still “in the bubble”, I listened to Stryper, Petra, and REZ. I went to a lot of Christian concerts that weren’t qualitatively different (the biggest difference was that Christians tended to clap on beats one and three right from the start without having to get drunk first and lose the beat). Now The Family Jewels is a favorite show that my younger daughter and I like to watch together. While I write this post, I’ve got the KISS station on Pandora playing through the stereo.
I can’t even say it was the presence of alcohol that set off my internal alarms. Although as a teen I worried over the salvation of a church member who had a beer in his fridge, we now keep liquor, beer and wine in the house, drink occasionally while dining out, and sometimes even get together with friends for the sole purpose of drinking and socializing while the kids all hang out downstairs. At the concert, there were undoubtedly people who were exceedingly less sober than my daughters have ever seen, but no one was really plastered either.
But something about the venue obviously triggered my knee-jerk shame. Instead of the usual fear accompanying the shame, this time I got angry. Not the best reaction because it is still a reaction rather than simply living according to my own code of honor, but I consider it an enormous improvement over the fear. I’m glad to be angry. Anger is excess energy, whereas fear sucks energy right out of you. Anger can provide the energy needed to make necessary difficult changes. Anger gives me the energy I need to cast forth yet another demon leftover from the fundamentalist legalism I lived in for so many years.