Slumber

If there was a job that allowed me to be a professional theme song/appropriate song of the day finder, I’m pretty sure that would be the best job for me ever…because I’m pretty good at finding the most applicable songs at the most applicable time. It’s a gift. What can I say?

I know I haven’t posted for a while and I have no legitimate reasons or excuses. I haven’t been hit upside the hide with any major epiphanies lately and I just really didn’t have anything to say. Until now. Obviously. And now that I think about it, I’ve been so busy with learning how to be awesome again that writing wasn’t a go-to coping skill for a while…it hasn’t been something I have to do just to get through the day. I was so consumed with getting out of my Bat Cave to do things outside of therapy and so busy smiling, laughing and playing loud music that I didn’t really have time to write (which is why you’re getting a double-header today).

I read once that the bigger the heartbreak, the louder the music. I’ve also read that when you’re happy, you enjoy the music; when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics. I concur with all of the above. I hope I have made it no secret that I am a music whore. I love it. I breathe it. I sleep it. I live it. People ask me if I like music…I ask them if they like air. I can’t carry a note to save my life, but when the volume is 200 decibels higher than it should safely be, that doesn’t really matter does it? (I did take note the other day, that should I ever have children, I will have to tame the volume I play my music at until said child is old enough to withstand the volume…which by then, said child will probably be old enough to not want anything to do with me, much less would want to be seen with me in public blasting the stereo as loud as possible. For now, my lack of volume control is on my “cons” list as to whether or not I should have children.)

The foundation of DBT-focused therapy is mindfulness. I used to hate that word. Not only did I not really understand the concept, but it was hard as fuck for me to do, in my opinion. A lot of people equate mindfulness to meditation and the “happy place” you’re supposed to go to while doing yoga. It’s really, as I’ve learned, not that complicated. It is simply just being in the moment and tolerating whatever that moment is. Notice what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling…describe it…whatever “it” is. The goal of mindfulness isn’t to change anything…it is simply to be aware. If you’re feeling suicidal…notice that…describe it…put words on it…be aware that that’s what you’re thinking. Hopefully, you have enough resources to, of course, get help if you need it (and you should). And you don’t have to ruminate in the thought or feeling…just let it come into your mind, notice it, say “hi”, “fuck off”…whatever…then let it go. Then let the next thought or feeling pay a visit…and so on and so forth. Marsha Linehan isn’t the most eloquent or engaging public speaker. To be blunt: she’s boring and if NyQuil or Benadryl won’t put you to sleep, watching Linehan’s DBT DVD will. Aaannnyyywaaayyyy…during a group therapy session one day, I was forced to watch the “Mindfulness Train” on a DVD. Essentially, Linehan was explaining mindfulness as being akin to watching a train roll by in front of you. You see and notice each freight car…once it’s out of sight, it’s gone…then there’s a new freight car to observe and so on and so forth. It took me many months of forced mindfulness activities and many missed “mindfulness trains” to realize that I was, in my own way, being mindful all the time. Well…maybe not all the time…but I was doing it more than I thought I was…and it was easier than I thought it was. Everyone’s mindfulness “niche” is different. Some things come easier to certain people than other things do. My mindfulness was/is music. Anyone in my group, therapists and peers alike, know that I like my music and I like it LOUD. If you can’t hear me pulling into the parking lot, you should get your hearing checked…seriously. I drive by myself 99.9% of the time so I am free to play anything I want, free to play it as loud as I want and free to sing as loud and off-key as I want…and I do. My drive to the mental health clinic is 30-45 minutes one way depending on traffic and if I put on my lead shoes that day (a heavy police force is a great deterrent as well). While I often listen to music at home too…everyone knows that my drive to and from any therapy appointment is my mindfulness time…and I take full advantage of it….every drive…every appointment.

While exploring mindfulness, how it integrates with music and how I personally choose to go about it, I realized that music, for me, sets my mood. Sure, I have some shitty days where I just want to play Sarah MacLachlan and “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” all day. But in doing that, I reinforce my mood and thoughts. It hit me, at one point over the last year plus, that I have the power to change my mood with music. Who woulda thought?! The antidepressants and other drugs aren’t doing me any good…but you go and blast “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston through my stereo (which, needless to say, is very well equipped with a sub-woofer and all the necessary accouterments to make any drive feel like a back massage during a rock concert) and I will lip-sync for my life! Maybe not everyone can go through a half-hour drive with Vanilla Ice, Whitney Houston, Sarah MacLachlan, George Michael, Jason Mraz, OneRepublic and Ke$ha and their accompanying emotional spectrum…but I can. Music is a very powerful thing. I don’t think I was ignorant of this fact before, but as I said above…when you’re happy, you enjoy the music…when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics. So 18 months ago, when I first started to slip, music became so much more meaningful to me. It was no longer just a “thing” or “sound” that brought me joy…it was a mood-altering drug…and totally legal to boot! (Withdrawals are a little rough but that’s a different subject for a different day.)

I also communicate with music more so now than I ever have before. Sometimes I just can’t find the right words to express my pain and feelings to my therapist…so I’ll slap a song on a CD-R and fling at her like a Frisbee. And, bless her heart, she gets it. (I have been very blessed to have one of the most amazing therapists ever and one whom I mesh with on such a hardcore level. We get along great but the relationship we have cultivated is rare and it has been, quite literally, life-saving for me. There aren’t many people I can throw a single song at who will understand, validate and empathize the way she does…albeit, she even enjoys it when I fling CDs at her because she loves music just as much as I do.) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…when words fail, music speaks…and sometimes, I step back and let it do just that. It’s even more than just the lyrics…it’s the beat, the voices, everything together. Music is my own personal nirvana. But enough about what it means to me…let’s get to the point of the post, shall we?

Every now and again, I come across a song that, with every single beat struck and with every single word sung, explains my exact mood, emotion, situation, whatever the case may be. I call them my “soundtracks.” If my life were a movie playing in front of you, song A, B or C would be the perfect song for whatever scene you were watching. Such was the case with this song: “Slumber” by NEEDTOBREATHE. I know a few songs from this group that I absolutely love, but I heard this particular song one day and it was one that made me hit “replay” and look up the lyrics…it was speaking to me…and for once, I decided to listen (no pun intended) instead of tune it out (no pun intended there, either…okay…maybe a little intention…).

Sometimes, when you are in whatever psychological “funk” you are in, you can easily become blind to everything else going on around you. As the song clearly states (lyrics are below), it’s very easy to just pull the covers back up over your head. I’ve done exactly that for a majority of the past 18 months. I won’t go into much detail, but I had some sort of “come to Jesus” meeting with someone or something a few weeks ago and I opened my eyes (and heart) to things that I had not seen or felt for a very long time. I don’t dare set myself up for disappointment by calling myself “cured” or even “happy” right now because if whatever I’m feeling is in fact the definition of “happy”…it is only just the beginning of this part of my journey. In fact, the feeling of happiness is so foreign to me that I don’t even know if what I’m feeling is in fact happiness; I don’t remember what that feels like. But a song like this one makes me want to open my eyes a little bit more than I have been opening them and take my covers off a little bit more than I have been. It doesn’t mean I’m hopping out of bed like the Energizer Bunny…remember when I said this was just the beginning of this part of the journey if it is what I think it is? Mr. Energizer Bunny and I will not meet for quite some time…in fact, we probably won’t ever meet because I am not a morning person and as far as I’m concerned, the early bird can have the stupid worm because both mornings and worms suck. Regardless, I’ve had blinders on for over a year and a half. I have let my emotions make me their bitch. I have been “asleep” and ignoring everything else going on around me because I was/am so consumed by my emotions. Suffice it to say, I’m pulling the covers off a little bit more than I have been…peeking around corners…still a little scared about what might be around that corner…but curious and alert enough to want to look instead of run away.

Slumber
by NEEDTOBREATHE

Days they force you
Back under those covers
Lazy mornings they multiply
But glory’s waiting
Outside your window
So wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyesTongues are violent
Personal and focused
Tough to beat with
Your steady mind
But hearts are stronger after broken
So, wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by
All the while
Your invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

Take from vandals
All you want now
Please, don’t trade it in for life
Replace the feeble
With the fable
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by
All the while
Your invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

Come on
Sing like we used to
Dance when you want to
Taste of the breakthrough
And open wide

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by
All the while
Your invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

Come on
Sing like we used to
And dance like you want to
Come on now and open your eyes

Come on
Sing it like we used to
And we’ll dance like we want to
Come on and open up your eyes

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