Music Therapy: (10) and Counting

I ask you, is there a song which, every time you hear it, reminds you of a certain period of your life?  A time full of happy (or sad) memories?  Do you get nostalgic every time you hear this certain song?  A song you can relate to?  When you hear the lyrics you can readily identify with them?

I do.  And I do.  And I do.

There are actually a handful of songs which evoke nostalgia, but I’ll talk about one in particular today.  The song is called (10) and Counting, performed by Boy Sets Fire.

This song describes a time when you’re so downtrodden, so destitute, that you’re literally scraping to make ends meet.  In this song they dealt with the pain by escaping through alcohol, which is something I have become familiar with in recent years. Nevertheless this song still reminds me of my senior year in high school.

My mother, my brother, and I all shared an apartment in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.  My step-dad (who is a ginormous douchecanoe who married my mother even though he was in the closet) was an over-the-road truck driver.  He decided, for reasons I don’t know, to stop sending money home to help pay the rent.  My mother worked 3rd shift at Wal-Mart.  She barely brought home enough money to make her car payment and pay the rent.

So my brother and I got part-time jobs.  Well, mine was supposed to be part-time and it ended up being full-time which almost caused me to flunk out of school, but that’s another post for another time.  I got a job working for Mr. Gatti’s pizza and my brother worked for KFC.

The Colonel says, “It’s finger-lickin’ good, bitches!”

Because we both worked for restaurants, and we both closed every night, we were able to bring food home every night.  Since there was hardly any money for groceries this food was our salvation.

Each night my brother and I would get home at roughly the same time and we’d eagerly exchange our food as I was tired of pizza and he was tired of chicken.

“Give me the hot wings!” I’d yell.

“Give me the pizza, bitch!” he’d retort.

All of this was said endearingly, of course.

So we would trade food and leave the leftovers in the fridge for mom and for breakfast in the morning.  We literally subsisted on pizza and chicken for most of the school year.  I’d often get called in on my days off to work.  Being that I was working full-time, in addition to being a full-time student, I was frequently fatigued and indifferent when I received these calls.  But they knew all they had to do was say, “I’ll let you have a couple free pizza’s,” and I’d say yes.  Lord only knows what they thought of me for being so easy to bribe with free food, but that food fed my family so I really didn’t care what they thought.

On the nights I closed, I was able to make my own pizzas.  Mr. Gatti’s made their dough fresh daily and pitched whatever was left over at the end of the day.  So instead of pitching it all, those of us who closed were allowed to make our own pizza after everything was finished for the night.  My specialty was affectionately dubbed, “the mo’ cheese pizza.”  My brother and I loved this.  Each night I’d pile pepperoni and sausage onto the crust and then pile loads of cheese on the pizza – hence the name mo’ cheese – and, wa la, we had our pizza.  Once, cooked, this pizza looked like a lake full of melted, gooey cheese that you could just swim in.  And it was fantastic.

It was this cheesy, only more so.  I heart cheese.

In addition to going to school and working, my nights were spent caring for a one-year old girl.  See, one of my mom’s co-workers had been beaten by her boyfriend.  The boyfriend was convicted and sent to jail, but the coworker couldn’t afford to live on her own.  So mom let her move in with us.  She worked 3rd shift as well, so it was left to me to care for the daughter while they were at work.  Luckily the little girl was very easy to care for.  She was well-behaved and always slept through the night.

Some might say or think that these are sad, or even grim, memories.  The fact that we had no money for food didn’t matter to us as we were able to get food via other avenues.  We didn’t need gas money because both KFC and Mr. Gatti’s were within walking distance of our apartment.  I look back fondly on these days.  Even though we didn’t have much, we had each other and that was all we needed.  We had many a great time every night trading our food and telling each other about our respective days.  Plus, it felt a little rewarding to be able to help mom out in whatever small ways we could.  We both brought enough food home every night that the only thing we really ever needed to get from the grocery store were a few odd and end things such as napkins, paper plates, and beverages.  Even though most of my money was going into a savings account so I could get my own car, I pitched in a couple of times to pay the utility bills.  This time in my life taught me a lot of lessons, the most important of which is this:  money doesn’t equal happiness.  You can be dirt-poor and still be happy.

Is there a song that makes you nostalgic?  What memories does that song evoke?


Lonely stormtrooper

Has it failed?
The lie so white it’s almost see through
All we made
A fruitless effort to connect with ourselves
And remain disconnected

The good news is that medication can help you control your depression. The bad news is it doesn’t fix it, nor does it free you from it’s crushing grip entirely.

Since I’ve started taking Prozac again my moods have evened out. Were I to graph them, it would form a mostly straight line across a page. That is a monumental improvement over the 5-week period in which I attempted to take myself off of the drug. Message received. Lesson learned.

Don’t hesitate
To sweep this failure under the carpet
As we exchange
Insincerities as we walk out on ourselves
And remain disconnected

While psychotropic drugs help you maintain control, they don’t undo what depression does to your mind. So while I’ve been largely anxiety and mood-swing free for the last few weeks, I’ve also felt increasingly isolated. I haven’t been talking to people much, nor do I have the desire to. I go to work, come home, and care for my children. I haven’t even had much of a desire to write. At least, as far as my blog goes. I have been writing some offline. I have even found that I sometimes don’t even want to comment on blogs, or post silly Facebook or Twitter statuses (stati?). I just can’t find it in me to care about much of anything except for my children.

I have become disconnected. And aloof.

Frankly, I’m willing to accept that at this point. If I must choose between mood swings and being detached, I’ll take being detached. At least that way I’m not constantly feeling like I’m on the edge of a cliff just waiting for some probably miniscule thing to push me right over into some unfathomable abyss.

So here is to
Safety and it’s comfort
I wouldn’t know
How to get around this or myself to begin with
I remain disconnected

I’m doing alright. Really, I am. Still, I recognize my lack of sociability and my complete lack of desire to address it. Frankly, despite having been married for most of my adult life I have felt alone through most of those times. I’m used to not being able to depend on other people and that may be why I’m not all that worried about this isolationism which has taken hold. When the thought of even trying to contact a friend to see if they want to do something enters my head, it is dismissed immediately by a counter-thought which tells me I’d probably enjoy an evening home alone more.

Those video games aren’t going to play themselves, I guess. Perhaps this shall pass.

So I slide into the deep end I was
Up against something bigger than me
Don’t have any access, don’t have any answers
To what’s inside, so I hide

Quoted lyrics are from the song Disconnected, performed by Epidemic.

Relatable Song: The High Road

Three Days Grace
Cover of Three Days Grace

Every once in a while a song comes along that seems to perfectly describe a time in your life that you just get stuck on it and listen to that song over and over. Or is that just me? I’ve written previously about such songs and I have found another song which perfectly describes a time in my life.

I’m a long-time fan of Three Days Grace. They released a new album over the summer entitled Transit of Venus. I downloaded the album back in July and then promptly forgot about it, lost amid all of the other shit I had going on in my life. After I wore out the new Avenged Sevenfold album I remembered that I had yet to listen to Transit of Venus. So I loaded it on a thumb drive so I could listen to it in the car.

One song immediately stuck out amongst the rest. The High Road. This song, at least the way I have interpreted it, is about a man who is pleading his case to a woman, begging her not to go. He’s pouring his heart out, telling her he’ll do anything for her. This song struck a chord with me immediately because I just lived through this. One year ago I was in this very same position. I was pleading. I was begging. I was broken. I readily identify with this song.

Not only do the lyrics resonate with me, but the emotion infused into the song by lead singer Adam Gontier captured my attention immediately and made me pay attention to the lyrics. The desperation of the lyrics is captured perfectly and you can feel the pain in them.

I told you I was hurt
Bleeding on the inside
I told you I was lost
In the middle of my life

Those are the opening lyrics of the song, and I know those feelings all too well. I was so lost at that point I would almost define that time as a premature mid-life crisis. I didn’t know which way was up or down. I was a phantom of myself. An empty shell. A ghost. My body was there but I wasn’t. I was going through the motions of life. I went to work, I came home. I took care of my kids, but nothing else mattered. I could barely contain my sanity when they were around but when they were gone I was a fucking catastrophe.

There’s times I stayed alive for you
There’s times I would’ve died for you
There’s times it didn’t matter at all

This, sadly, I also relate to. Nothing I said to her mattered at all then. Nothing. I begged. I pleaded. I changed. I sought help. None of it mattered. She showed no emotion as I drowned. Maybe I drove her to that point. Maybe I didn’t. But nothing hurt more than bearing soul-crushing pain and watching her not give a single fuck.

Standing in the dark
I can see your shadow
You’re the only light
That’s breaking through the window

Everything revolved around her. My focus day and night was spent figuring out how to get her back. It was her who gave me life and so it was her who took it away. I was left with nothing when she left. Nothing else mattered.

I once told my counselor that I don’t handle loss well. He asked what I meant and I told him about how I handled, or didn’t, losing my wife. “That’s not handling loss,” he claimed, “that’s withdrawal.” I found it hard to believe, and still do, that you can have withdrawal from a person, but the symptoms fit. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. My mind raced. When I tried to force myself to eat I became so violently nauseous that I couldn’t finish. I probably threw more food away in those couple of months than I ate. My father took me out to dinner once during that time and all I consumed was alcohol because that’s all my stomach would tolerate.

We’ll I’m not gonna give it away
Not gonna let it go, just to wake up someday gone! Gone!

This was my train of thought. I don’t give up easily. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I wasn’t going to walk away. I knew we could make it work if we tried. I believed that as long as love was there we could work out the rest. I was so naive.

I’ll do whatever it takes
To be the mistake you can’t live without

This, sadly, is the most powerful line in the song and the line with which I identify the most. I recognize this desperation. I know that desperation. I lived that desperation. I was that desperation. I did and tried everything I could think of to be the mistake she couldn’t live without. I spent my nights lying in bed with my mind alternating between wondering what or who she might be doing and trying to conjure up ideas on how to convince her to come home. I had only a singular purpose, and that was to show her that she needed me. But she didn’t. She doesn’t. She never will. Conversely, I know now that I don’t need her. But there was a time I would have done anything to make her stay.

The worst part is looking back
And knowing that I was wrong

This really is the worst part. I wasted so much time and energy trying to salvage an illusion. Our relationship wasn’t real. It seemed real to me, but it wasn’t. Our relationship was a sham. Perhaps she loved me in her own way, but she never loved me the way a wife loves a husband. I was just wrong. About everything. Admitting I’m wrong is a novel concept to me. I’m my father’s child, to an extent. Admitting my faults is something I’ve never done. I didn’t begin to until she shattered my existence. When I had no other choice but to really look at myself and analyze how I had gotten where I was, that’s when I saw who I was. I didn’t like what I saw. I was wrong in so many ways I can’t even count them. That was most definitely the worst part.

On the flip side, however, I did see who I was and have been able to become a different person. A more tolerant person. A more open person. More in touch with my emotions. I discuss my emotions more. I’m a better person now for all of the bullshit I have endured in the last year. So even though I crashed and burned, I have been able to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and continue on.

I have been listening to this song on repeat for the last 24 hours, and I’ll probably continue to do so for another day or so until I tire of it. There’s just something about this song I can’t get enough of. Maybe it’s how I could have written this song myself. Maybe it’s the feelings it elicits. Maybe it’s the emotion contained therein. Whatever it is, I’m hooked on this song now and it’s now one of my favorites.

I’m Not Ready to Make Nice

This morning while drinking my morning cup of coffee I was perusing my newsfeed on Facebook and came across this article about Natalie Maines‘ solo rock album, which was shared by a friend. Natalie Maines, for those of you who aren’t country fans, was the lead singer of the group The Dixie Chicks. That, however, is not what inspired me to write this post.

Thinking about Natalie and The Dixie Chicks made me think of a song of theirs that I hadn’t heard in a really long time that I remembered liking. Something about not being nice. So I Binged it (fuck Google – they’re omnipresent so I’m going all hipster on them and Binging everything). I came across the video for it and watched it. I listened to the lyrics and holy shit did they speak to me. The name of the song is Not Ready to Make Nice, and I’ll include the video at the end of the post.

Cover for Not Ready to Make Nice (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, this song was not written about a situation similar to mine. This song was written in response to the leviathan public backlash and being blackballed by country music for daring to share the opinion that the war in Iraq is unjust and that they were ashamed that George W. Bush was our president. However, there are certain lyrics in this song that, when applied to my life right now, fit so perfectly that I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for nearly 8 hours. No, that is not an exaggeration. I have literally been listening to this song on repeat for 8 hours. I listened to it while I was reading blogs earlier. I listened to it while I finished checking Facebook. I listened to it while I checked Twitter. I listened to it while I walked to the store and back. I listened to it while I walked a lap around the neighborhood. I’m listening to it as I write this post. I can’t stop listening to it. It is speaking to me and I’m trying to figure out what the hell it is saying. The emotion with which Maines sings this song has had me on the brink of tears a couple of times today. I know that’s ruining my bad ass trooper image, but I give no fucks at this point.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

This verse at the beginning of the song is what pulled me right in. As I’m being asked by my wife to become friends again these words slapped me right in the face and told me this is exactly how I feel about it. These were words that fell out of my mouth last night, actually. I have forgiven, but I cannot forget. That means I will not be repeating mistakes of the past. You have fooled me too many times. I don’t hate you, but I don’t like you either. Maybe one day I’ll be able to forget and perhaps that day we can start over, but today is not that day.

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

This verse also spoke to me. I have no doubt that the decisions I’ve made are the correct decisions and there really is nothing left for me to figure out. It’s over. Finished. Done. Complete. I’ve moved on and going back to that relationship, any aspect of it, would be immensely counterproductive right now and might undo all of the progress I’ve made since the end. I’ve turned that page and it’s not one I wish to revisit.

I have paid a price. Oh have I paid my price. Severe bouts of depression. Loss of appetite. Sleep deprivation. Loneliness. Medication. Therapy. Knowing that I’m a failure. Knowing that I’ve brought another child into this world who will grow up in a broken home. And I will keep paying. Every time he asks me for you I pay a price because you’re not here and never will be again. Every time he wakes up in the middle of the night I pay a price. When he’s old enough to know that it’s not normal for moms and dads to live separately I will pay a price. When he’s not here and I miss him terribly I pay and will continue to pay a price. Every first he has while he’s with you I will pay that price. I’ll keep paying. Oh, will I keep paying.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

The chorus is where it’s at. I’m not ready to make nice. Nor am I ready to back down. When I think about how it all went down I do get mad as hell. I don’t have time to go round and round and I need to move on. I can’t keep revisiting my past. It’s definitely too late to make it right and with months of hindsight now I know that I wouldn’t if I could. There’s no sense in playing this game. We have a cordial relationship now. We talk about Baby C when we need to and both have his best interests at heart and that’s all we should be worried about where each other is concerned.

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it

It’s not something I think about at all anymore. At least, not until you come back and start knocking on the wall I’ve erected between us and asking me to let you back in. No, there are things I can’t get past. No, there are things I can’t get over. No, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to think about you without thinking about those things. Those betrayals. Those lies. Those broken promises. These are things that are not easily forgotten nor should they be.

This song came to me today at just the right time. Just when I needed it. It validated how I felt and reassured me that my feelings are legit. It gave me words and emotions to help me focus. Hell, I’m still listening to that song. I need help…

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting