Don Juan

Growing up there was a time when I became incredibly preoccupied with the possibility that my dad was having an affair with a woman who lived in a yellow house with a willow tree in the front yard.  This obsession seemed to come from a dream, though the vision felt so real I convinced myself that maybe.. just maybe.. it really happened.  So one day I summoned the courage to ask my dad if he knew anyone who lived in a house like I just described.  He said no of course.  …I wasn’t any closer to figuring out my mystery.

But still, that didn’t keep me from sleuthing for clues, like the pictures I found in my dad’s dresser drawer.  There were several self-portraits of women written out “To Tommy” on the backs of them.  Tommy???  I never heard anyone refer to him that way — he always went by Tom.  Nevertheless, I was young and didn’t immediately or consciously assume these were women he was having an affair with.  Instead, wanting to believe my own father had good intentions, I convinced myself that these were women from his past.  But why hang on to them?  It felt like having the key to my questions in my hands, but not knowing which door of answers it unlocked.

I never let on that I had seen any of it.  Deny.  Deny.  Deny.  Lie (to yourself).  Lie some more.  Do what needs to be done to cover your tracks.  Don’t let anyone know you’re onto them.  Because that could expose their vulnerability and hence your own.  What you pretend not to know can’t hurt you, and it can’t hurt them, as long as you don’t talk about it.  When you don’t understand something but you know that whatever it is, it’s going to be painful, avoiding the issue at hand often seems like the best “solution”.

So I pretended the pictures didn’t mean anything.  I convinced myself my “dream” was just a dream.  I also pretended to understand why my parents didn’t wear their wedding rings–my dad’s hidden away in his drawer along with his collection of women; my mom’s a solitary item in the strawberry dish next to the kitchen sink which she later retired to the confines of her jewelry box.  Her ring had two pearls intertwined with a small diamond between them, which seemed to define their marriage so well.  They were the pearls and there was a wall as tough as diamonds between them.

It wasn’t until my mother finally revealed to me for the first time five years ago that her husband–my father–had been unfaithful to her repeatedly throughout their marriage.  And while they continue to be married for over 40 years, she has yet to confront him about it and he has yet to confess.

What do I do with that?

It takes time to process and accept that your father’s life and marriage was a lie, a sham, a meaningless pile of vacant words tied to a host of insecurities, leaving behind him a cancerous trail of unspoken betrayal and quiet indignation.  Could he possibly know the damage he has caused?  Would he even care?

It takes time with a person you love to learn to trust that they won’t desert you like that, that you alone are enough for them, that they’ll love you and hold you above all others, forever and ever, as long as you both shall live.  And even then, after years of being together and putting all my faith in someone, I was completely blind sighted by my own husband.  So naturally, I am now more inclined than ever to question the validity of the words spoken when someone says they love me.

People make promises all the time.  Sometimes words can harness all the power in the world. And sometimes they don’t mean shit.

When someone’s staring you in the face telling you who they think you are and you know they’re wrong, what proof do they have to go by other than the action you take next?  Do you back down?  Or do you stand there and fight?  I choose to fight, as hard as I possibly can, to demonstrate through my deeds that I am who I say I am.  And though I am a fighter,  so too am I a lover who believes very strongly that the world needs more love; every single one of us needs and deserves love, even when we forget.  Especially when we forget.

And I feel compelled to believe that through the numerous women my dad slept with during my parents’ marriage, all he was ever looking for was love, acceptance, reassurance that the world was a safe place, perhaps, in the bosom of someone charmed by his false bravado.  They say Don Juan slept with hundreds of women because he was afraid he could never be loved by one.  He was afraid he couldn’t be loved.  Then so too was he unwilling to fight for the only thing worth fighting for.

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Wanker

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Ian Maclaren

Call me paranoid, but I’ve always felt like someone is watching me, no matter what I’m doing, even sometimes when I’m alone.  As a result, I tend to keep a watchful eye on others, as well.  But it’s made me, I think, a more thoughtful and conscientious person.  Because only by paying attention and increasing our awareness can we anticipate needs and come to understand others.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are too busy to notice what someone else might be going through; they’re in their own little world, oblivious to the fact that when they are interacting with or even near another person, they are actually engaging with a human being.  At times we also tend to interpret other people’s actions and reactions as a personal affront, as though they don’t exist outside of our exchange with them.  Sometimes we forget that other people have problems, which may even be bigger than our own. We could meet someone and not realize they just lost someone they love; maybe it was their child; maybe they lost everyone they love a long time ago and they just can’t shake the emptiness that fills their life.  Who knows, right?  Because we don’t know them.  But we can help them and thus help ourselves by extending a little courtesy; some understanding, perhaps, of how difficult and tragic life can be.  Share a smile, sure.  But forgive those who can’t return the favor.

It’s not always an easy thing to do.  Some of us get pissed off when we go “out of our way” to be nice and the jerk on the other side of the counter gives us a menacing look.  Okay, maybe he is psycho.  Maybe he’s a washed out, angry, resentful bastard by nature who chooses to take it out on you and anyone else who crosses his path.  But hey, at least you’re you and not him!

People are people.  Some we connect with and some we can’t fathom at all.  If nothing else, a cold shoulder reinforces the importance of being kind to strangers and forcing a smile every now and then, even when it feels like a chore.  Because we know what it feels like when common courtesy isn’t returned.

Certainly, our happiness relies a lot not on what we’re dealt, but on how we play the cards.  So if I don’t know the cards in someone’s hand, I’m going to assume mine will trump theirs and receive what they deal me with graciousness…  even if I do get frustrated with their insistence on being a loathsome wanker.

 

Nice Guys Finish Last

…But only when they sit around on their duff feeling sorry for themselves while the rest of the world passes them by.  To be true, no positive change has been brought about, no dream has ever been realized without gumption, sweat and moxie.  Yes, the world needs more moxie.  Certainly, I could use a bit more moxie.  But while my dream is to find love, I’ve decided that I have put enough effort into that lately.  I’m calling it quits for a while until, well, I find it or it finds me.  I am adopting the mentality that only when you stop looking for something can it be discovered.  I’m through thinking I can force love to happen.    

Being alone is my reality. It’s what I asked for after all, so I have no one to blame but myself.  Except that, when you love someone, really love someone, you allow them to make mistakes.  You allow yourself to make mistakes.  Through my work with individuals with disabilities I have learned the importance of granting each person the “dignity of risk”.  What this means is that everyone is allowed to make mistakes, as much as we want to try to prevent anything bad from happening to someone we are there to support.  Furthermore, each individual has the right to change their mind.  Don’t we all make mistakes?  Haven’t we all changed our minds at times?

In a loving relationship, why should it be any different?  I’m done feeling like I have to prove myself to somebody who either a) could care less or b) pretends to care less just to protect themselves from any hurt feelings.  I’ve been surrounded by and attracted to these types of men my entire life.  I’m over it.  Yeah, I fucked up.  News flash: I’m not perfect.  Mark my word, Mr. Wonderful, I will say and do things that are hurtful and misguided (and so will you).  But if you really know me, you will recognize that these are most likely fear responses rather than true expressions of my personality.  And if you are capable of loving me–all of me–you’ll believe in my ability to learn from my mistakes and allow me the right to make mistakes, to find my place in the human race.

Yesterday morning I found myself yelling at my child as I was trying to hurry us all out the door so we could be to our respective places on time. Afterwards, I felt really rotten and I made sure to apologize once I had calmed my frazzled ass down. But until then I had been feeling horrible and spent a lot of time beating myself up inside before it hit me: Arguing and yelling and getting on each other’s nerves is what families do.  Right?  Not that it’s healthy for this to go on all of the time because that would just breed dis-ease and dysfunction.  But we are all human.  And humans are emotional beings.  To know that you can express whatever you’re feeling, even anger and frustration, in the presence of people you love and know that they’ll continue to love you is such a comfort and a relief (so long as it’s not one sided and only serves to make one feel superior).  Sometimes we just need to explode to get all of that pent up, negative energy out where we feel it’s safe to do so.  

I remember as a child feeling like it was not okay to express myself.  The only person allowed to raise their voice in my family was my dad.  When he was really angry his voice would become so shrill, no one dared to talk back because we couldn’t match his pitch.  And there were no apologies.  The slightest faux pas any of us made was sure to be criticized.  He didn’t believe one had to learn from their mistakes, just that a person shouldn’t have made one to begin with.  Afraid to face his own shortcomings, my father expected perfection at all times. Though, of course, there is no such thing, and so I was destined to feel myself a failure at every turn.

I can recall only one temper tantrum I had as a child in which I demolished my room, throwing toys and creating a huge mess that I later had to clean up.  I haven’t the slightest recollection of why I was so angry, but I do remember the shame and fear I felt anticipating what my mother would say.  I’m not sure she really tried to understand why I was so upset, just that I was wrong for the way I chose to express it.  That was enough to deter me from expressing any emotions in front of family, certainly, which made it harder to communicate effectively with others, as well.  What do you do with your feelings when, no matter what they are, you feel wrong for having them because you haven’t been taught that it’s natural to feel things like anger.. or even love.. without hurting and disappointing the people around you?

So I’m through falling for partners who vilify me for being emotional and don’t ever try to understand where my emotions might really be coming from (lately I blame hormones).  I’m tired of lovers who set a limit to their love and don’t allow me the dignity of risk that I’m entitled to as a fucking human being.  If you want to be a part of our lives (mine and my children’s), you better be fucking ready to love and be loved endlessly.  That doesn’t mean ‘until the day you hurt me’.  That means, ‘until the end of time’.  And if time doesn’t really exist and things just kinda go on and on while the universe continues to expand, then that is exactly how far my love will go, on and on.  I’ll make mistakes and so will you; I’ll test the limits of your love from time to time (but maybe not forever); we’ll disagree and argue and piss each other off.  And it’ll be great.  Because we’ll have the gumption, sweat and moxie to work through it and come out even stronger and even crazier about each other than we were before.  I’m saying this to my fictional future lover, whoever you may be.  I trust you’re out there.  I also trust you’re a nice guy who doesn’t sit on the side lines begging for pity because someone broke your heart.  And if I do break yours, please know that it’s not a reflection of my love for you.  It is simply a reflection of my inability to be loved and to communicate how badly I want to be loved by you.  But I’m trying.  And if all of this isn’t enough to prove that, then there really is no use getting off your duff because you can’t see past it anyway.

Lost Boys, Indeed

“It is human to have a long childhood; it is civilized to have an even longer childhood.  Long childhood makes a technical and mental virtuoso out of a man, but it also leaves a life-long residue of emotional immaturity in him.”

–Erik Homburger Erikson

Just less than 10 years ago I became a parent for the first time at the age of 22. And in that time I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot, primarily thanks to my two amazing children who have taught me so much about myself and the world. Becoming a parent wasn’t something I was planning on doing when it happened. My daughter came as quite a surprise when I was still in college and I was my only priority; the loom of adulthood and all of its expectations hadn’t quite settled into my bones.

With that said, becoming a parent is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, for many reasons. But one is that kids enable us to see in us that which we’ve long neglected and forgotten. The lessons they teach or reinforce can occur in any situation whether it’s one we’re familiar with and can recall from our youth or the experience is totally new to us. Either way, we’ve all been there; we’ve all looked at the world with innocent, curious eyes and now we’re seeing it through ours. But who are we? And how are we different now from who we were then?

With age comes responsibility, but there are those who refrain from having authority over their own life, let alone someone else’s. After all, growing up can be frightening. All of that power and responsibility can be intimidating. What happens if (when) we get it wrong? And so there seems to be an increasing phenomenon of young adults staying confined to their child-like state of mind, which in the world of psychology is known as Peter Pan Syndrome.

According to the classic story, Peter Pan is a boy who resists manhood by remaining in the imaginary Neverland as a child forever, much to the heartache of Wendy who has true feelings for Peter, despite his inability to drop the fantasy and love her in the way she needs to be loved.  Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with retaining some of that innocence, wonder, and vitality that is so much a part of one’s youth.  I think those are things more adults could benefit from.

But insisting on acting like a child throughout one’s life is something different.  Psychologists point out a paradox with Peter Pans, which is that as they age physically, they refuse to mature mentally, spiritually, emotionally. This condition seems to be more prevalent than ever, and we tend to see it more in men. But the thing about not wanting to grow up is, you could be a great lover, provider, parent, what-have-you and not be a day older than you would be if you resisted all that “growing up”.  Everybody has to get older.  Everyone notices funny things happening to their bodies as they age.  Everyone has a lesson to learn.

Following is a very general description of individuals with PPS (not to be confused with PMS which, unlike PPS, is actually listed in the DSM as a psychological disorder.  Did you get that ladies??  Our menstrual cycles classify us all as crazy!!  But a man who wants to remain a child forever– totally rational! Please note the sarcasm.):

It is said that when reality is pushed upon such a person they will often respond with rage in order to intimidate others and protect their fragile self-esteem.  Indeed, “rage is the wall that keeps the PPS victim isolated from close contact with others”. One consequence of this, however, is that it also keeps love, concern, and warmth away.

In addition, they often blame others for their perceived shortcomings and are intolerant towards criticism.  They are quick to experience feelings of rejection and since they don’t know how to protect their feelings from getting hurt, Peter Pans have learned to withdraw from emotional areas, maintaining an “I don’t care” attitude.  However, these individuals want desperately to belong as they actually feel very, very lonely.  Alas, “there seems to be an immense vacuum in [their] life unless [they’re] around people, preferably the center of attention”.  As a result, there is often a “constant desire to be doing something as a coping mechanism for dealing with the hollow emptiness of [their] life”, be it drugs, sex, alcohol or some other vice.

Oftentimes, a great deal of permissiveness was experienced during childhood which led to a lack of self-discipline and is demonstrated by laziness and irresponsibility, as well as an inability to handle emotions properly.  Due to their lack of internalized controls helping them to initiate responsible activities on their own, they often face pressure from outside sources (parents, employers, spouses/partners) to take on more responsibility.

Furthermore, Peter Pans are generally unable to make commitments or keep promises. Whenever their relationships begin to require a higher level of commitment and responsibility, they tend to bail. Consequently, they often find themselves in relationships with younger partners which provides the advantage of having low expectations, allowing them to devote less time to planning and thinking about the future.

They also tend to feel that “the love of a mate should be like the love of a mother – unconditionally positive”.  Peter Pans commonly take lovers for granted.  In their eyes, a lover is not supposed to expect more of them than what they choose to give at the time they choose to give it.  In the story of Peter Pan, Wendy plays a vital role in his life, but she is never allowed to challenge his behavior and childlike fantasies; she is simply to remain an unquestioning aficionado.

Similarly, real life Peter Pans seek out women who base their self-worth off of their ability to care for others.  Because in order for Peter Pan to exist there must be someone willing to deal with the things Peter Pan doesn’t do. These kinds of relationships don’t tend to evolve past the first phase of emotional and sexual intensity; they never fully mature. This is made possible by the Wendys of the world who gain what they need (acceptance, control, etc.) by allowing their Peter Pans to live in a fictional world where they never have to grow up.  This doesn’t give these men much of a reason to be anything more.  And so, conflicts inevitably arise.

My family is a perfect example of the Wendy/Peter Pan paradigm.  My brother is approaching 40 and still lives with my parents.  And this is at least partly because he has never been encouraged to move out.  Allowing him to remain dependent benefits my mom greatly.  Doing for others is how she attempts to gain acceptance from others (which is something I came to adopt).  And she’s been doing for her children and her husband all her life.  My dad is nearly 70 and aside from the time he spent in the Navy, he’s probably never done a load of laundry or dishes in his life.  My mom has to center her entire day around him because he is “unable” to cook a meal for himself.  I spent my life resenting this and if I were my mother, I wouldn’t tolerate such infantility for a single second.  It’s high time to grow the fuck up.

At the same time, I can also identify with Peter Pan.  Even though I take care of my responsibilities (raising two kids independently, maintaining a full-time job and a house, paying bills and doing what needs to be done; I’ve got a savings account, life insurance and a 401K for crying out loud), I somehow feel way less responsible than other people my age.  I prefer not to engage in boring “adult” discussions about things I don’t care about.  I don’t care about a career path.  I don’t care about chasing money.  And  I’m honestly not overly concerned about my future or that of my children.  After all, what’s the point in putting too much thought into a future I a) may never know and b) may not have control of?  I feel like a child in that all I really want is to be happy and to be loved.  That’s it.  Just those two things.  But I expect love from a romantic partner to be mature enough to stand the test of time.  And in my experience, it hasn’t been, even when it’s claimed to be.

To evolve implies an ability to learn from mistakes, become something better, and not remain stuck on the past. It requires an ability to forgive, to move beyond.  Without someone’s willingness to evolve (read: grow, adapt), what more can you do?  Simple.  Stop enabling.

My ex accused me of being a child right after I banished him from our lives for reacting to my child like a child.  If you ask me, it was the metaphorical pot calling the kettle black.   But he had a point. Sometimes my inner wounded child comes out to play and I find myself resorting to adolescent behavior.  My feelings get hurt and I act out in a dimwitted attempt to protect myself.  I’ve done this my whole life, fluttering back and forth between fantasy and reality, forgetting that the rules don’t crossover.

But now I think what hurts the most is knowing how many little things throughout my day remind me of our life together.  And yet I can’t let him know.  I can’t reach out.  I can’t be fucking real.  I just have to pretend he doesn’t exist, pretend I don’t care, pretend none of it ever mattered.  Except that he does, I do and it did.  That means something to me, even if it no longer does to him; even if we’re better off; even if we both still had more to learn in order to have more to offer.  And I have to wonder, do I hate myself to care so much for someone who could never care that much about me?  Or am I just a relentless romantic who’s ran out of pixie dust and would rather pine away for an impostor love than move on to a place where real love is possible?  I just wish our worlds weren’t so far apart.  I wish I could at least stand on the edge of my terrene and wave to him from the edge of his.  Because I’m tired of pretending.  And I could use some more happy thoughts.

*All quotations and information from this blog can be found in Peter Pan Syndrome and The Wendy Dilemma, both by Dr. Dan Kiley, as well as the following link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070501112023.htm

Letting Go of Attachments: An Evolutionary Cataclysm

“The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.” –Oscar Wilde

Sometimes I feel like I spend too much time thinking/wondering/worrying about finding someone to be with. Because in the meantime, major atrocities and devastations are happening all across the globe. Certainly, not having somebody to share my life with doesn’t rank very high on the list of worst possible things to ever happen in the world.

With that said, I think most of us would prefer to have a partner in life. We all want to be loved, as hard as it may be to admit.  We are all hoping to find ourselves in someone else.  But we live in an age where self-reliance is revered and independence is our birthright. Even technology is pushing us more and more in the direction of depending less and less on our fellow neighbors. From automated phone services to self check-out lanes, we are now more than ever less likely to engage in real life social interactions with other human beings.

Attachment Theory argues that all of this is counter intuitive and our need to find closeness is actually embedded in our genes. In Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and keep–Love, Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller contest that as a result of our evolution, we seek out a few specific individuals in our lives to cherish above all others.  Essentially, we were born to be dependent and the urge to forge with other human beings persists until the day we die.  This is because, prehistorically, attachment to another provided one with a greater chance of surviving.  And so, our brains have developed a biological mechanism specifically for the purpose of creating and regulating our relationships with the people we are most fond of–parents, children and romantic partners.  That is why a child separated from their mother will cry so fervently until reunited.  This kind of reaction is what is referred to as protest behavior, which we continue to exhibit as adults when a source of love disappears from our life.

However, despite the fact that “we all have a basic need to form close bonds, the way we create them varies”.  Given the heterogeneous nature of human beings, people respond differently to intimacy and the threat of its abrogation, but we all tend to fall into one of these categories: Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure.  What’s great about this Attachment Theory is that it “does not label behaviors as healthy or unhealthy…romantic behaviors that had previously been seen as odd or misguided now seem understandable, predictable, even expected.  You stay with someone although he’s not sure he loves you?  Understandable.  You say you want to leave and a few minutes later change your mind and decide you desperately want to stay?  Understandable too.  But are such behaviors effective or worthwhile?  That’s a different story.  People with a secure attachment style know how to communicate their own expectations and respond to their partner’s needs effectively without having to resort to protest behavior.  For the rest of us, understanding is only the beginning”.  

And that’s where I’m at. I’m only just beginning to understand how my attachments to others are influenced by the way I came to depend on my parents to address my needs as a child and then later, my significant others.  And since “people are only as needy as their unmet needs” I recognize that at times it may take a bit more to fill my emotional cavities.  Because in a romantic relationship, “if our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until the partner does”.  It’s the old tug-of-war routine.

Coincidentally, when our emotional needs are met, we are then free to place our attention outside ourselves.  This is referred to as the “dependency paradox”, which states that the more effective people are at depending on one another, the more independent and adventurous they become in their own lives and the more secure they become in their relationships.  So while we hear so often that we should never rely on someone else for our own happiness, perhaps some of us can agree that that’s a bunch of malarkey.

In fact, studies demonstrate “that when two people form an intimate relationship, they regulate each other’s psychological and emotional well-being.
That’s because their physical proximity and availability influence the stress response.  How can we be expected to maintain a high level of differentiation between ourselves and our partners if our basic biology is influenced by them to such an extent?”  The codependency myth which is quite prevalent today encourages us not to base our happiness on our partner, or to acknowledge how important another person might be in our overall feelings of fulfillment; but to instead be self-reliant, focusing on ourselves and tending to our own needs first.  But what could possibly provide more joy and satisfaction than the feeling of being loved and cared for in return for committing to looking after the needs of another?

Of course finding love is something we strive for–it’s written in our genetic code.  Then again, something like love cannot solely be explained away with science.  There will always be a mystical, magical quality to the act of falling in love.  But it does help to know how our early attachments affect the emotional needs we carry into our romantic relationships.  Not one is either right or wrong.  Someone who forms anxious attachments will naturally be attracted to someone who is avoidant and vice versa.  What matters most is the ability to come to an understanding, to be willing to meet half way.

I wish not only for my sake, but for the sake of human kind that every person finds love.  Because it is what has allowed us to evolve as a species, surely.  And it seems to me the only thing worth living for.  If everyone felt loved, imagine what kind of world this would be.

Scars

When I was maybe 5 years old I can remember standing in the kitchen, watching as my dad was getting ready to leave for a trip.  I don’t recall ever showing any outward displays of longing for his affection or attention because I knew my efforts would be dismissed.  But on this day my dad seemed to express an interest in me he normally didn’t; he spent time with me in my world which he usually didn’t do.  So as he was preparing to leave I thought, here is my opportunity for physical contact (besides the spankings he so willingly delivered).  I was terrified he would leave before I got to hug him and say goodbye so I quickly ran to him pleading, “Daddy, wait, don’t go!”  But what I got instead was the corner of a built-in cutting board jutting out from the counter.  I was just its height and as I ran, oblivious, it jabbed me right above the eye (my coordination has always been terrible).  My mother rushed me to the ER where I received stitches. I never did get to say goodbye or give my father the hug I so desperately wanted.  And it would be years before I would find my next opportunity for one.  I had already learned my lesson.

Long Live The King

I grew up listening to my dad belt out the melodies of Elvis Presley into a microphone, over and over and over. He had a karaoke system set up in the house and he would record himself while singing and strumming his favorite tunes. Sometimes he’d throw in a little classic Country. At the time I didn’t know what karaoke was and that other people in the world actually did this too. Though I guess what was most bizarre about it to me was that it was mostly just Elvis. It was as if he were trying to harness ‘The King’ in an effort to be ‘The King’, narcissist that he is. Years later I would discover karaoke for myself in a bar when I was 18 and scoring pitchers of rum and coke from friends who were 21.  My go to was Love Shack.  My stage name was Amilicious. I guess the old man finally rubbed off on me.

Consequently, music entered my life very early and it was ongoing.  Once and a while my dad would let me sing into his microphone while he recorded me on his big fancy reel. I always liked it when he took out his guitar.  Its home was a beat up leather case with bright pink velvet liner, antithetic to the case’s rough exterior.  Somehow, when he opened up that case, it smelled like opportunity; it carried a scent that was old and new at the same time. And the guitar itself… a beautifully crafted instrument that had clearly been treasured for years.  I can remember how shiny the gloss made it, the duo toned wood of the body, dark trim, ivory bridge and pearly fret markers.    Hearing him strum and pick his guitar, casting harmonious sounds through the air – It was the closest I ever felt to him.

And so it was at a young age that I learned how powerful music could be.  My father is a man shackled by his inability to overcome himself; someone who has long lost the capacity to draw anyone near to the place where his insecurities and vulnerability might be exposed.  He shut that door and built those walls; he isn’t letting anyone in.  Yet there he was, singing of love, remorse, and desire.  What I quickly figured out was that through music my father could escape.  Through others’ songs he could communicate things he otherwise felt it impossible to say.  I remember being confused by the paradox–How could he sing about love, but not express it to his family??

Nevertheless, music was, is, and will always be one of my favorite ways of escaping and communicating. Music is an art.  And just like any other art form, it is there to say something, to convey some meaning, to reflect what someone was thinking, feeling, experiencing.  Music has the power to take me somewhere I would rather be: somewhere connected.

Music has found me in times of pain, suffering, sorrow, and despair when I felt lost in a world I couldn’t make sense of. It’s also been there to lift me to higher levels of healing, peace, joy, understanding, love, compassion.

I get lost in music that rips my heart out, buries it endlessly into the ground only to pull it back out from the depths where it can finally feel free.  When I’m listening to music, I want to feel the chords bleeding through the air waves. I want music to sound as though its player is making love to the notes echoing through their fingertips; music that entices me with its quick, subtle pulsations, yet demands sudden movement of my body with every loud bang, baNG, BANG!  I want to feel in a song what I have felt my whole life; reassurance that I have been heard through someone else’s lyrics or melody.  I cherish music that speaks every truth I’ve ever known.

Music is like love.  It is constantly progressing, blending old and new elements.  At times it tries to mimic itself, giving way to monotony, leaving less room for spontaneity and creativity.  Nevertheless, predictability is not always a bad thing.  What was once your favorite song can be over played and begin to bore you.  You may even grow to detest it.  On the other hand, there are those songs you will never tire of hearing, no matter how many times you play them on repeat.  They will continue to take you everywhere you wanted to go and leave you breathless, heart pounding, yearning for more of the same.