This Is What It’s Like

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I want things to be better, I want to get better, and when, instead, things get worse – with my health, with the way I’m feeling – it’s a severe blow. Terrible. It’s life slapping me in the face. Again. It’s pure torment.

“You can choose to be happy and enjoy life.”  What a load of bollocks. You can choose to accept and sit with the pain, as mindfulness teaches. You can choose to escape some of the pain through books, music, sex, other distractions. But, the pain is still there. The struggle is still there. And, it isn’t enjoyable.

On the days that are less intense, I let my hopes rise. But, inevitably, disappointment comes with a vengeance in these times when it’s not only bad, but worse than ever. I let myself think that maybe there could be some freedom outside of death, just to be proven, once again, there is no freedom but death.

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The First Smile of the Day

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Bombarded, tormented, overwhelmed, I went to bed last night. Meditation helped to calm the rush of my thoughts, but the cacophony never stays silent for long. I slept. I woke up. My first thought when I wake up is always, “NO! Please. No, not again.”

A rough morning. In bed with my thoughts while my husband attempts to get the kids to do their homework. Feeling hopeless.

I cry, but I know tears won’t fix anything. My husband brings me coffee and something to break my fast. I eat and drink and listen to an audio book. I play Bejeweled. I work on losing my accent; it disgusts me.

I have determined to rid myself of the vexing accent. But, like everything else detestable about myself, it continues to force itself upon me unwanted.

The American accent is hard, ugly. It sticks out like an extremely sore thumb. It’s distressingly unmusical sounding. Rough…and comical. It sounds uneducated, even if one has been an academic and applied themselves to learning.

It’s another of my exercises in futility; another losing battle. But…I keep trying.

I don’t know why it should be so difficult for me to affect the superior, musical lilt. I’m a musician. A singer. This would suggest that I have a good ear, that I am able to match pitch and mimic sound. I DO IT ALL THE BLOODY TIME. I should be able to “sing” the “song” of received English just the same.

But, I should be able to make phone calls, too.

Yeah… sigh and #!*%¡*¢!

Needing a lyre harp and being unable to get one (everyone who sells the ones I can afford insist on using paypal…why can’t they just take plastic??? And, no, don’t tell me how brilliant paypal is; it really isn’t…and anyway, the bottom line is, I can’t get my harp).

Obsessed and tormented. A morning of frustrated tears.

Then. I asked Jamie to bring me a big shirt to put on…me being sans clothing and thinking about getting out of bed. I referred to my nakedness. He smiled and cupped my breast in his hand. Suddenly, my face, there it was: the first smile of the day.

My husband locked the door and the therapy continued.

Music is therapeutic. Meditation is therapeutic. I regularly post about my therapies of choice. Sex is a particularly excellent one.

Why? Like music, there is surrender and abandon; it overcomes the mind and can drown out the cacophony. Also, there’s the giving aspect: I’m not only receiving pleasure (and therapy), I’m giving therapy. It’s good medicine.

Sexual healing. It’s not just a song. It’s a science. My smile is proof. 

Desperation and obsession still assault me, desire, frustration, exhaustion… but, any moment of relief, delight is something so precious, something to be grateful for. As I write, the smile makes another appearance. And, I’ll finish this post with the meme I made for my FB page yesterday:

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This Is EXACTLY How I Feel

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.” – Vincent van Gogh

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This is exactly how I feel about my music. And, in general, I relate to this incredible artist very much. The anxiety. The bouts with mental illness. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all a part of the brilliantly artistically gifted: you can have the creativity and be able to produce works of marvellous beauty, but the pain, the torment, the feeling that you really don’t belong here, all go along with it. It is very, very sad. But, it is our existence. And, I suppose if you gave me the choice between being “happy” (whatever that is) and my ability to sing and make music, I would choose the latter. But, what I am writing specifically about in this post is this issue of obscurity rather than our shared mental health problems.

According to Wikipedia, during Vincent van Gogh’s life, his work was known only to a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. Hmm, that certainly sounds all too familliar.

Of course, not all artists are doomed to live in this obscurity, only being appreciated and finding acclaim for their contributions posthumously. Not all of us are alike. There isn’t a great artistic brotherhood (just like there isn’t some great sisterhood of women, either…but, I digress – yes, again! – that’s a post for another time); we aren’t all cut out with cookie cutters. Some of us aren’t tortured as badly as others and some of us do get discovered (and appreciated) whether tortured greatly or not prior to leaving this ill-fitting world. I do wonder what it’s like to be in that category, but that has not been my lot.

Vincent van Gogh was 37 when he died. I am 38, nearly 39. I feel old. I feel passed it. And, my entire life – artistically speaking – has been this quote. When I saw it today, shared on another artist’s Facebook wall, it knocked the wind out of me. I felt like I had been struck. I physically hurt when I read it. Because, I know this experience, and it has been my experience for nearing four decades now.

And, so, this is simply my lament for myself (yes, another pity party for a pitiful nobody of a singer/songwriter), and it is my celebration of van Gogh – who was brilliant and sad and who painted the sky not on canvas only, but on the very fabric of our hearts. His work hangs, no longer belittled or thought of no worth, now admired, acclaimed, sung of, cherished and highly valued. I wonder what it would have been like if his paintings had been considered with such value when he was alive. One thing I can say – back to the mental health thing – it would not have changed his mental state, it would not have chased the demons away, but what it would have done is to provide validation to the living man and put bread on his table; it would have fed both spirit and body. 

How am I so certain of this? Because, that is what it would do for me.

Now, a last note must be made here. To the precious few who do support my music, I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for you. I would never want you to think that I’m ignoring you; I want you to know that you mean a great deal to me – you are a tiny, but beautiful, spark of validation in a black sky that would otherwise be solid darkness; I appreciate you very much. But I needed to write this post because of how this quote affected me. I needed to write it for me, and for him.