Of Tambourines and Heart Shards

So, people are doing that end of the year thing. You know, the year (or, decade, for that matter) in review, reflection, 2019 wrapped or unwrapped, etc. thing.

Can I be bothered to do one? Does it really matter if I do do one? Does anyone really care to read about my 2019? No joke, it has been the best of times and it has been the worst of times.

In typical BPD fashion, it’s been an ‘I hate you, don’t leave me!’ year all the way around. I have made beautiful connections of love and friendship this year. And, I have also made frustrating enemies/opponents that I really didn’t need (yeah, I know, that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s unfortunately true). I have loved intensely and been loved fiercely, and I have been caused great pain, and I have caused great pain to others (sometimes to the same people who I love intensely…welcome to my mutha-fucking world). I have laughed more and uncontrollably wept more this year than in all the previous years of my ridiculously too-long life put together. All the extremes. All the stratospheric highs and the indescribably horrific lows.

2019 began with me making the decision to become active on Twitter (as opposed to just having an account that sits there collecting virtual dust, as it had done for a decade), and use it as a tool for promoting my music. I didn’t realise what a life altering thing – and the far-reaching repercussions – this decision would make.

All in all, yes, my music is the better for it. But, my mental health isn’t. And, in me exposing more people to the disaster that is me, I have left damage and wreckage in my wake. Yeah, I’m the curse that keeps on cursing.

The fact is, all we borderlines do is fuck up other people’s lives. It’s not that we have a disorder: we are a disorder. If you have the great misfortune to find yourself in our path, beware the inescapable tornado of desire and destruction. To know and love someone with BPD is to, one way or another, end up wrecked. No, we aren’t all bunny boilers or stalkers or disgruntled postal workers with AK47s.  But, we are, all of us, obsessive and a complex of intensity and complication.

I would like to think that I will not see 2021. I would like to hope that my sorrowful and excruciatingly painful existence, along with the sorrow and pain that I cause (of course), will come to an end in this coming year. But, when has hope done anything but disappoint me?

I am so tired.

You may wonder what the title of this post is about. If you know, then you know. If you don’t know, I can’t explain it to you… so, don’t worry about it. Or, if you’re really curious, you can Google what the ancient Greeks used ‘tambourine’ as a metaphor for, and you can listen to this song.

All this being said, at least I’m not a narcissist – you know, at least I know I’m despicable and hurtful. And, I’m not even the worst borderline I know. And, I have people in my life that are nevertheless grateful that I am in their lives. But, that may be because I am so exceedingly good at playing the tambourine. 😉

 

How Do The Stars Feel?

FOREWORD:  It is an extreme rarity for me to dip my pen into the realms of prose, preferring to play to my strengths of songwriting. Prose isn’t my forte but, on this occasion, I had a story burning in my heart and decided to write it. You can judge for yourself whether I should just stick to my day job. Thanks for reading.

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Colin snuggled down into his soft bed. His mum tucked the blanket around him. The six year old boy loved how his mother always smelled of the lavender she grew in their garden. He lay on his back, his eyes toward the skylight in the ceiling, the skylight that his father built for him before he was born. Before he knew that his son would never see it and never be able to see the stars shining through it.

‘Mama’, Colin whispered, ‘Elline told me that the stars are reeeeaally beautiful. She said that they sparkle. She said they are shiny. I told her that I didn’t know what those words really mean. I asked her to tell me how the stars feel, but she just laughed at me and told me that they are stars and they don’t feel like anything.’

Colin’s mum snuggled close to her son and exclaimed, ‘Elline! That girl is dumb! I can tell you what the stars feel like.’

The little blind boy closed his eyes and listened to the warm, velvet sound of his mother’s voice. She said, ‘Well, you know when you’ve been out in the cold too long, and you come in and start to warm up by the fire?’

‘Yes’, replied Colin. Stars feel like fire?’, he asked.

‘No. Stars feel like the lovely tingle you feel in your feet and hands as they get warm by the fire.’

‘Oh’, said the boy. ‘That sounds nice.’

‘Oh, it is. Very nice. But, you know what? I can also tell you how the stars smell.’

‘Really, Mama? How they smell? How do they smell? Do they smell nice, too?’

‘Oh, yes, Colin. They smell spicy…sort of like ginger.’

‘Ginger? Like ginger beer?’, he asked. ‘I like ginger beer.  It makes me giggle; it tickles my nose! And, it makes me tingle, too.’

‘Mmm, I know it does.’

‘If the stars smell like ginger, what do they taste like?’

‘Well, you got ahead of me. I was just going to tell you. They taste like the best ginger beer in the world.’

‘Soooo’, Colin mused, ‘the stars are tingly and spicy? They sound delicious, Mama.’

‘Yeah’, Mama smiled, ‘I thought you might say that. But, now, do you also want to know what the stars sound like?’

‘Awwrrrhhh, yes, please’, Colin yawned, unable to hide his sleepiness.

‘The stars sound like an early autumn breeze on wind chimes – lovely wind chimes, big ones and little ones – both ringing powerfully deep and tinkling bright and gently across the sky.’

‘Wow! Elline was right. Stars are beautiful.’

‘Yes, son, they reeeeaally are. Now, you get to sleep. I love you.’

 

Several years later, the boy became a man, as generally happens when time marches on with no one to stop it. But, how time feels is a story for another time. Colin lay on his back, his eyes to the ceiling, in another bed this time, with his arms wrapped around a girl named Arianna.  He loved the way his girlfriend always smelled like vanilla and fresh coffee. He whispered into her hair, and told her for the first time, ‘You are so beautiful’.

Instead of thanking him for the compliment, Arianna, who was still getting used to having a visually impaired man as a lover, responded with confusion and not a little disbelief.

‘But, Colin’, she said, ‘how can you say that I am beautiful? You’ve never seen me. Not only that, but you’ve never seen anyone else; you have nothing to compare me to. How do you know whether I am beautiful or not? You’ve never seen my eyes, and you don’t even know what green is, so it doesn’t matter that my eyes are green. And, you’ve never seen my hair, and you have no concept of what red is, so you can’t tell whether or not my hair is nice. I know you appreciate my body, that’s pretty easy to surmise, but you can’t see it, so how are you qualified to tell me that I am beautiful? I’m sorry, I really care about you, but I just don’t understand how you can make such a statement about me.’

Arianna didn’t laugh at Colin, but in that moment she sounded just like Elline had all those years ago when she had tried to tell him about stars. His immediate reaction was to be deeply stung by the words that she spoke to him, especially right after they had just made love. The silence began to separate them like a thousand miles when, just a few moments before, they had seemed so close. Then, slowly, he came to the realisation that Arianna didn’t speak from a place of malice but of sheer ignorance. He held back a chuckle as he heard his mum say, ‘That girl is dumb’.

‘Ari’, he said, ‘you want to know how I can know that you are beautiful.’ He turned her in his arms to face him and placed a soft kiss on her lips before he carried on, ‘I am fully qualified, as you put it, to say that you are beautiful, and I will gladly explain it to you.’

Arianna was now embarrassed by what she had said. She felt bad about it, but she still couldn’t imagine how a man blind since birth had any notion of what constituted a beautiful girl. Part of her was glad that he couldn’t see her and judge her on her looks. After all, she thought, hadn’t she had more than one boyfriend who made her feel like she was never quite attractive enough? She had dated one guy who told her that she was good looking, but he also constantly made it clear that he would like her to lose weight. She had actually started dieting, joined a gym and went religiously, but he never seemed satisfied, regardless of the lengths she went to in order to please him. Hadn’t she been upset by her ex-boyfriend’s shallowness? Hadn’t she been miserable in that relationship? On the other hand, there was a good deal of her that was outright frustrated that Colin couldn’t appreciate all the effort she still put in to looking good. Even a few of her friends had commented to her that she was wasting herself on a blind man. However, that gentle kiss that Colin gave her stopped her thoughts. No one had ever kissed her the way Colin could kiss her; he had her full attention now. Okay, she thought, explain this to me.

Holding her, Colin spoke, ‘You feel better than the stars.’

He paused, kissed her again, longer and deeper this time, before leaning in to press his face to her neck. He took a deep breath, filling himself up with the scent of her. ‘You smell better than the stars.’

Arianna quivered as Colin’s breath tickled the side of her neck, causing goosebumps to rise on her skin. At first, she had been listening to his words with some amusement but, as he continued speaking, her amusement changed to something like wonder. Punctuated with kisses, she was held spellbound by what he was saying; she was in thrall to the sound of his voice.

Colin smiled as his hands ran over the curves of her body. ‘Do you need me to remind you where my tongue was just a little bit ago?’

Arianna did laugh then, a sort of shy laugh, and she could feel her cheeks blush. ‘Umm, you can remind me of that anytime you want to’, she breathed.

‘Well’, he said, ‘Baby, you taste so much better than the stars, too.’

She still couldn’t wholly fathom what he was saying, and she couldn’t have told you just why she was now utterly convinced that, when he told her that she was beautiful, it was a deeper compliment, it was more of a compliment, than anyone had ever given her before. In that moment, she totally began to believe it.

‘Do I sound better than the stars, too?’, she asked him.

Colin could not hold back a grin as he recalled how his mother had described the sound of the stars.  ‘No’, he confessed, ‘you don’t. But, we can work on that.’

 

 

 

 

Beautiful

As a society, we are obsessed with the visual. People say things like ‘Seeing is believing’ and ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. We are pressured to look a certain way. Sadly, in the music industry (the one place that should be all about the ears and hearing), we are told that we must have a popular image, that we need to have a certain appearance in order to get heard.  WTF!?

We focus on sight, we focus on looking hot, women are told that men are visually turned on and, so, they need to look a particular way in order to be desirable to them. To our detriment, we have been taught that sight is the most powerful and important of the senses, and all our effort is put into how we appear to others.

Recently, I have become close to a man who has been completely blind since birth. And, I have learned so much.  He often tells me that I am beautiful. But, you say, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and he has never seen you nor has he seen anyone to compare you to, how is he qualified to make such a statement? And, he’s actually had people say this to him.  I daresay these people are fucking ignorant. I’ll tell you why.

There are four other senses, and they are just as powerful and visceral, if not more so, than sight. I’ve always thought this; my friend has only confirmed it for me.  Beauty is in the hand of the beholder. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Beauty is in the nostrils of the beholder. Beauty is in the mouth of the beholder. Beyond the limited, superficial, sense of sight, there is a way of perceiving and knowing and experiencing beauty in a way that is so intense as to be overwhelming.

My visually impaired friend is a radio presenter; that’s how he and I met. He is very passionate about music and about supporting indie artists (like me). His first experience of me was when my singing voice hit his ears; and, in his words, he fell in love.  Since then, we’ve spent many hours on the phone, and he tells me he also likes my speaking voice.  It’s more than how my voice sounds (although, that’s a part of it), it’s how my voice feels.

How can a blind man tell me that I am beautiful when he’s never seen me, when he has no concept of black (the colour of my hair) or brown (the colour of my eyes), when he has never seen the shape of my body or the composition of my facial features. How can he say it with conviction and how can I believe him? It’s simple, really. He feels beauty. He feels it.  And, I don’t just mean by touching something with his hands.  No, I mean on a deep, visceral level. Anyone who has ever challenged him when he called them beautiful, by asking how he is qualified to say such a thing because he can’t see them, has terribly missed out on the AMAZING compliment he has given them; they have missed the incredible wonder of his exclamation all because of their obtuseness. Their ignorance wouldn’t allow them to believe what he was telling them. They are the ones who are truly blind, the ones who cannot comprehend that what he said to them is SO MUCH MORE OF A COMPLIMENT than they have ever been given before.

Emotionally, intensely and all-consuming, he recognises beauty when he encounters it. And, in a place beyond the superficiality of seeing with the eyes, he sees it with his soul.

And, you know what?  I think that’s beautiful.

 

 

For the love of a good lyric…

It was refreshing the other week when, at an acoustic sing-around I attended in Derby, the host complimented my songwriting and went on to purchase my new EP ‘A Collection of Tears’; he remarked that his main focus is always on the lyrics of a song – the music is secondary.

This is how I have always felt. Music is a boat to carry the precious (or, in the case of some songs, the worthless) cargo! Yes, it is ALWAYS a major plus to have a well-crafted boat, but it’s the cargo and passengers that the boat carries which is important.

In this analogy, YOU are the destination. We, as artists, want our cargo to reach you. Ideally we craft beautiful and powerful boats to carry that cargo to you.  But, that cargo better be well-made, of first-rate material, in excellent condition, effective and affective – the cargo better be good quality stuff. I don’t care how good the music is for a song, if poor lyrics let the song down then the whole song is ruined. Give me an instrumental then, with your toe-tapper or rocky anthem; keep the crap lyrics out of it! I don’t understand wanting a pretty boat that is filled with nothing but shit – that shit is going to make even an exquisitely gorgeous boat stink.

In this modern age, music videos have also become a vehicle for the cargo, with YouTube replacing the once novelty of MTV (which, as far as I can tell, does little showing of music videos anymore…it’s all reality shows and such).

Videos appeal to those of a visual nature and our increasingly visual world. But, as I always say, a picture may indeed paint a thousand words, but just one word is powerful enough to conjure many, many millions of images in the mind. Where is the power (or lack of power) of a song? The lyrics are where that power, or lack thereof, resides.

This brings us to lyric videos. You get something visual and which also ensures you don’t miss any of those all important lyrics. Very handy.

Now, not all lyric videos are created equal. The simpliest ones are just the words of the song on a plain, static background. Not all that exciting visually but, at the least, you don’t miss or mishear the lyrics. And, of course, it makes it easy to sing along if you want. More complex lyric videos attempt to convey the lyrics through a collection of legitimately sourced images or specifically created images. This provides something very visually engaging to watch, while also having those lyrics there on the screen so you don’t miss or mishear them.

To promote my new EP ‘A Collection of Tears’, we worked hard to create a lyric video for the first track off the album. Lots of time and effort were put into the creation of the images that appear in the ‘Waiting Room (Official Lyric Video)’,  in order to illustrate the meaning of the song (just in case anyone is still having difficulty working that out just by listening to it). I feel that the lyric video we created delivers the message. In fact, it might make it all too clear. There are some that will find the song uncomfortable. That’s ok. The song is supposed to make people aware and make people think.

‘Waiting Room’ is a very personal song to me – as are all the songs on ‘A Collection of Tears’.  There are people who will immediately identify and relate to the song. For some, it will perplex them or frustrate them…or, even, outrage them. I will leave it to you to decide what category you fall into. Regardless, may these lyrics – this cargo – reach you, and reach you well. I also do hope you enjoy the boat.

 

A Collection of Tears by Autumn Dawn Leader is AVALABLE NOW on:

Bandcamp

i-Tunes & Apple Music

Amazon

Spotify

Deezer

Tidal

iHeartRadio

Napster

Google Play

On The Spot

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a blog post. I figured it was overtime for an update.

Life has been busy; I won’t bore you with long stories or too many details. My health continues to be a thing that gives me many complications and grief, with new conditions/ailments/symptoms rearing their painful heads. Meanwhile, I am continuing to write, record and perform music, and I am very actively gigging. Besides the odd solo show, I am regularly gigging as one half of the prog-folk duo The Secret Magpies, performing our original songs, and I play with the original rock band Stevie Jones and The Wildfires.  I’ve also recently had national radio play on BBC6 Radio Music, something that was very exciting, indeed.

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So, it may appear that I am in demand. But, it is a seriously a challenge to stand out and get noticed among the glut of music that is out there and available these days. I am only now beginning to embrace digital media and streaming, in the effort to get my music out there to YOU who will hopefully listen and even share my music with others (word of mouth is still the best advertisement).

Do you use Spotify? Do you like music that is distinctive, emotive and intense? If so, it is you who I am appealing to in an effort to increase my music’s reach.

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For a while I have been using the hashtags #supportoriginalmusic and #supportindependentartists. What I do like about Spotify, as a streaming service, is that it allows its users to discover more of what is out there off the mainstream. Sure, you can stick with what you know, what is familliar and comfortable, but where is the fun and adventure in that? We miss out on so much when we do that.  I have personally discovered artists I had not known before by using Spotify – artists I now love. And, when you follow an artist on Spotify, it updates you whenever artists you have followed release anything new – so you don’t miss out on new music coming from your favourite artists. This is beginning to sound like an advert for Spotify, and in a way it is (although, I can assure you, I am not on their payroll and they have not commissioned me to plug their app…more’s the pity). I’m not trying to get you to download Spotify if you don’t already use it and don’t want to use it; my aim here is to engage with people who are already sold on Spotify and use it regularly*.

 

What I am doing is fan-fishing. I’m not going to deny it. I’m looking for people to follow me on Spotify.  I don’t write and perform music for it to sit on virtual shelves. I know my music is not for everyone. I am a particular niche. While being trans-genre, or cross-genre, or multi-genre, whatever you want to term it (because sticking with one genre is just far too fucking limiting!), my music isn’t EVER happyclappypoppyfluffy. It is more moody and edgy and about all the anquish, frustrations, longings, sorrows, struggles and pain and grief of this life. Many of my songs deal with longing for death. Ocassionally (as in my track Siren Song), I delve into the realms of fantasy and mythology. But, nothing I do is what anyone would call ‘happy songs’. So, if you don’t do morose, move on now. If, however, you question and rail and scream and cry at the general madness of the world, or if you tend toward introspection, over-thinking and daydreaming, my music may just be for you!

So, with no more ado, I leave you to (hopefully) go listen for yourself. If you dig what you hear, please click that follow button so you will be updated when I add more music (I am presently recording a brand new EP which will be released in the next month). Thanks for reading and listening.

autu1

 

*If you aren’t a Spotify user and you are still interested in checking out my music, it is available to download or stream from i-Tunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, i-Heart Radio, Deezer, Napster, Tidal, Pandora, Bandcamp, & YouTube Music

Where’d You Go and Why?

Once you know you have BPD and understand certain triggers and symptoms, it makes you really question certain scenarios and how to react/respond.

Say someone (a potential friend, partner, lover, etc.) initiates contact with you and, at first, seems quite keen to have a relationship (whatever the kind) with you. There are plans to meet. Plans to hang out. Plans to participate together in whatever it is you’re both into. Plans to, generally, get this party started. And then… silence. Your last message gets ignored and unresponded to. What’s happened?

The natural reaction for someone with BPD is to panic. Like, ‘FUCKING HELL, you showed interest in me and got me to like you, now you’re gone.’ And, the tendency is, then, to bombard the person with messages, almost begging them to still be interested in you. You go from being the pursued to being the pursuer. You look sad and pathetic.

But, once you are diagnosed, you find out that you are predisposed to this reaction. So, you do your best to hold back from chasing and harassing. You try to convince yourself that they are most likely busy, and it’s not that they don’t like you anymore. But, there is real, physical pain in holding yourself back. For me, it’s a choking feeling that is added to the sinking feeling of, ‘WHY make me open my heart to you if you were going to abandon me?’ There is a pervasive, anxious feeling of wanting a plain answer for their disappearance. ‘Just tell me what’s up, don’t leave me hanging!’

And, the great majority of the time, it really is THEM and not YOU. Most likely, they had time on their hands, saw you available to chat (online) and dived in, not knowing you’d get more serious about things. You were something to do on the way to something else. And, that doesn’t bother ‘normal’ people so much. Then again, they could still be genuinely interested but something could have happened in their life that is stopping them from being in contact. Life throws shit at all sorts of people, not only those of us with BPD (it’s just that the shit we get thrown hurts us more). Still, if something is going on and they’re too busy now to meet or hang out anymore, it would be polite if they let you know. And, it would help things if, in fact, they are no longer interested in you at all to tell you that, as well. I’d rather just know. Just tell me instead of leaving me up in the air.

I find myself in this situation now. It sucks. Not knowing whether they’re busy or they’ve just ‘moved on’ without telling me.

I want to ask. I want to be able to move on. I want to learn from the situation (don’t let another person in so quickly; they’re keenness might not be as sincere as it seems).

All relationships are complicated for the BPD sufferer. We feel too much. We feel ‘too far’. And, it applies to every relationship or potential relationship.

I’ve written this blog post instead of writing to them. I wonder if they choose not to contact me again if I can resist the urge to contact them. I also worry that if they are only busy, they may read this and, instead of shooting me a quick message to ease my mind, they’ll just think I’m a weirdo.

I AM a weirdo. But, still… how irrational is it to feel this way, really? Those ‘normal’ lot are the truly strange ones. I envy them, though. This stuff doesn’t bother them. They’re immune. It just rolls off. While, here I am, wondering why I’m here again. 😢 #lifesucks #peoplesuck #bpdsucks