When I was younger, I loved music. All. The. Music. Musicals of course. Standards. Jazz. Old timey country. Klezmer. R&B. Rock. Blues. Folk. Folk rock, classic rock, prog rock, singer-songwriters, liberated feminists, emo, and on, and on forever. I lived music. I was a singer. In music there was possibility. There were also depths and emotions that I would fall so deeply into that I could not find my way out for long periods of time. I could do nothing but be in that space. Colors were brighter and the sadness was so intense that it was like a drug. In that space, I couldn’t work, or clean, or focus. Being wrapped in that blanket of brain chemicals was so very comforting. My sadness became my happiness.
I can no longer listen very much, for very long. I’ve gotten pretty good at processing, expressing, and storing away my emotions. In my youth, they came out all the time and all over everyone. I have worked so hard to gain the control that once alluded me. Music sends me down an emotional rabbit hole that I struggle to emerge from. Setting this boundary around myself has been so hard and I feel that I have definitely lost a little bit of something. However, in the same way as I have had to adjust my diet, take my meds, get enough sleep, and practice mindfulness to be able to function and manage my symptoms – I have had to restrict so much of the music I once loved.
What I realize is that once upon a childhood (adolescence, young adulthood) I was addicted to my own unhappiness. I needed to descend to that dark place of yearning and dreaming and lamenting because I did not have the skills to do what needed to be done. I did not know how to take control of what I wanted, to make plans, and see them through. The only thing I could control was my lack of control. It was so much easier to give into that than it was to ask for help and commit to a wellness that I genuinely did not think was possible.
There is nothing that I have totally figured out yet. I am engaged daily in a commitment to being ok. I have always been suspicious of things being too good and I’m not sure that will ever change. But where I once took solace in the misery because counting on things being good was too much to hope for, today I seek the middle. I can listen until I become aware of those old habits taking hold. I can feel the pull in my chest that is old habits saying “It’s time for you to come with us,” and I can step away from them. Sometimes it feels as if I’m missing an old friend in music. I didn’t leave it entirely, I just had to set new boundaries so that my heart and my mind don’t end up too far away from each other. Every day is an opportunity to begin again.