Hello again, gentle readers!
In September of 2017, I wrote and recorded my seventh album. I don’t talk about this album (or any of my albums) much because on some level I am not proud of how sad they are. Looking back, however, they were – and are – real.
I’m not sure how to write a happy song anymore, I’ll be honest. They don’t feel authentic when I try nowadays. My last album, The Places We Come Home To, is my husband’s favorite because it’s about the two of us, but it broke my will to write happy songs to this day. The only answer I have for that is that I feel shame for what feels like going overboard, writing something too sappy and therefore too vulnerable, in some backwards sense.
I have zero problems with being honest about how I feel when the feelings revolve around events that have upset me. That’s how I vented, how I got my anger out, got my sadness out. Sadness felt safe. It still does, to some extent, and I’m trying to break that cycle. I think of sadness as kind of “the devil you know”. You break your own heart rather than risk it being broken for you. It’s kind of like returning to a toxic friend or partner simply because you’ve got history with them and you’re afraid to be vulnerable and have your heart possibly broken by a promising new partner or friend. For me, I felt like I didn’t deserve it. Like many of my struggles, I still feel it…a lot. I’m afraid to be happy, because who knows what will happen if I let myself go for any length of time. Will I mess something up? Will I go crazy?
I have bipolar disorder, and that’s something I have struggled to own or even accept for what feels like a century and a half. I worry constantly that I will hurt people or that they will fear me. There are so many negative connotations and stigmas surrounding it that when I open up about it to someone, I am afraid of being judged or feared. This is me using that nasty word, vulnerable, and opening up to you, gentle readers. I don’t like myself at best for having a mental illness, and at worst, on the darkest days, I despise myself for it. I think I’m more afraid of myself than most people are of me.
“I think I’m more afraid of myself than most people are of me.”
I’m constantly on guard for signs that I am going crazy, and in the process, I kill potential hobbies, career choices, and even my own happiness. I’m so terrified of going out on a limb and being happy that I end up going back to the backstabbing, toxic devil I know, sadness. I don’t like it when people say that happiness is a choice. But at least for me, it is a process.
This is why I bring up my seventh album. It may be dark, but it’s about the struggle between light and darkness, the struggle with potential insanity, and the struggle to find happiness, at times with a partner, at times on my own, and lastly to truly know myself.
As I was listening back to it last night, one song stuck out to me. It’s called “Best Dress”. I sing in the chorus,
“I want someone to tell me I’m okay
That I’m not on the brink of insanity
Who will see me as human and not
And it’s fine if that person is me!”
I was dealing with many of the same feelings of dysphoria and being out of place and was questioning my sanity in the process, much like I am now. I think younger me was on the right track. Returning to the topic of finding a home within myself (from the most recent post), to feel at home in my own skin requires an understanding and acceptance that my mental illness is a part of me that I can’t get rid of, but will be able to know and soothe. I will have manic days, but if I take up arms against happiness for fear of a manic episode, I won’t ever feel at home.
It’s fine if others accept my flaws, but similarly to what I wrote in “Best Dress”, the person who most needs to accept me is me.
Thank you for reading, always.