As I write this I am listening to Protomen’s amazing cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”… it triggers in me so many memories, within so many senses. I remember that PAX, sitting with Cheebus, listening to the Protomen play the song live. It was always a powerful song for me, as much of Genesis & Phil Collins’ works were.
But this moment was so much more special than listening to it at home or in the car by myself. Within this music, with the humid air, the presence of Cheebus beside me, the feel of the chair beneath me, the sound of the crowd, the taste of my own tears, I felt so connected. It was a surreal experience, and became tied so closely to the song that it left an everlasting mark on the sludge that makes up my brain.
I was never particularly talented in making music with my own hands. I had an ear for it though, of picking out the layers of a song, the tones played within it, the harmony. I have always adored more “complicated” songs, where there were multiple layers to the music, from instruments, to voices, to audio mixing.
It is within those songs, with some few in particular who “tickle my fancy” more than others, that I drew inspiration, courage, comfort. Music was a refuge, like books, and cardboard boxes.
I remember once as a child, I was in the backseat of my grandmother’s car with my mom and grandmother in the front seat. Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise” came on the radio, and it just resonated with me so hard… I can’t remember if it was the first time I’d heard it or if it was just a kind of memory catcher for that moment.
I told my mom to turn it up, that I liked the song. She kind of laughed at that, congratulating herself in getting me into “her generation” of music. But she turned it up, and then she… watched me. Of course, she told me this later in life, at the time I was so engrossed in the song I didn’t notice. My eyes were closed, I was swaying gently to the beat. In my head were all the layers of the music in a dance so timeless and beautiful, no matter what form it is in, it will still move us. Part of my mind was echoing the lyrics through my head, processing their meaning and how it affected my little world. Another part of my brain saw colours and images, vague abstract images that flowed from one blur to another, entering and leaving as if they were blown by a gentle wind.
I don’t know exactly what my mother saw, or how she perceived this trance like state her child was in, but it must have hit something in her. She said to me, “You really like that song.” I nodded, trying to find the words to describe to my mother the experience of music within my mind. I struggled with the words, finally choosing, “It’s my power song.” I was about 12 at the time.
My mother didn’t really understand then how to see through my eyes, and over 20 years later, she’s still trying. My entire family has loved me, supported me, guided me, saved me, and been a constant part of me. In return I have, well, TRIED to be a good, normal, functioning adult person that fits the expectations of society.
Over the years, it has been a constant roller coaster. For a time, I’ll be stable and be able to hold the mask in place, to quell the neurodivergent part of my brain and at least pretend like I fit in. But inevitably that mask gets too heavy, and then it starts slipping. And eventually the weight crushes me, usually ending up in some kind of breakdown, shattering my carefully crafted illusion.
And so, the cycle went. I’d bear that weight for as long as I could, ride out the crash, and move on to something else, something new and fresh and naive to what lied beneath my polite smiles and small talk.
Crap, I seem to have written a bit more than what I had set out to. But this is a good start.
About a year ago, I tried to start blogging, and wrote about a lot of deeply personal things that needed to surface. But again, I put on the mask and took the stage, and deleted all the things I had wrote, trying to hide any sign of the truth or the past. Ultimately, I just ended up back in the pit of my own mind.
This time, I’ve made a decision. This time, I’m ready to get to the bottom of all this. I’m not chasing after an elusive cure, I’m not going back to the mask. I’m going to take the opportunity I have before me to finally, truly, explore my own brain, my own personalities. And maybe, somewhere in there, I can come to terms with who I am, and who I want to be going forward.
I don’t know how long this journey will take, and though I am very blessed to have support during this; emotionally, financially, physically; it is not going to be easy.
But as I see it, I really only have 2 options at this point. Find a way to truly live, or die.
And I’m not quite finished with this world yet, I think.