Let me just get the quick intro and apology for neglecting the blog for an extended period of time out of the way now. It’s a goal of mine to get on a regular posting schedule, and Saturdays feel like a good day to write. Let me know if they do for you too. I also want to do Music Monday posts, which I don’t want to be like a release/news segment (though some may take that form), or even just to talk about what I’ve been listening to, but anything to do with the power of music and its impact, talking about music from yesterday, today, and tomorrow along the way. The first one will be a list of recommendations of albums to be released between January and March (at least one is already released as of today, 1/21). I want to eventually get 3 or 4 consistent posts per week out, but let’s start with Saturday and Monday and go from there.
I’ll have some thoughts sometime next week after Music Monday on the Women’s Marches, not just in DC but around the States and world; haven’t decided on a date yet. For now, I’ll say that I couldn’t be more excited for and proud of the glowing turnouts everywhere.
Today, we’re going to get personal again. Let’s talk about friendship and its power. It’s been profound for me lately, as I’ve been on a pretty deep emotional journey the past couple of days that I wasn’t expecting, and yet I’m so glad I have had it. I’m also just putting it out there now–this will be partly a self-indulgent gush on specific friends lately. I know they’ll be a part of my life forever. Is a gush the most “professional writer-like” thing to do? Maybe not, but Ryan O’Connell (warning, language NSFW) calls writers including himself “professional feelers of emotions,” and that’s what I’m gonna do. In fact, that’s largely the crux of this post. Feeling your emotions honestly and in the moment will make you grow and be a stronger person.
It all started with a novel. I’m sure a lot of you have heard buzz lately about the novel A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd, due to its recent movie adaptation which I’ve still yet to see. I’ve linked to my Goodreads review with the title, so I’ll try not to rehash the whole thing here, but I basically took 3 weeks to read the first half–and finished the second half on Thursday night (1/19) in an hour (we’ll get to earlier Thursday afternoon in a bit). I took this long because I knew it was going to make me break down and cry, which I rarely do with books. But once I allowed myself permission to do so–and I reached the tear-inducing events in the book–damn, did it feel good to let myself break down and feel sad in a safe space over what was happening. Without spoiling too much, the protagonist, 13-year old Conor, goes through a very similar emotional journey of not wanting or allowing himself to feel pain over his circumstances and overcoming that. I basically felt Conor’s feelings, line by line, and it made me cry and impacted me all that much more.
I’d been advised by various therapists over the years and also singer-songwriters in interviews I’d admired, like Jewel and Alanis Morissette, to get comfortable with pain/being uncomfortable. It made sense theoretically, but up until very recently, I couldn’t being myself to practice it, even after my surgery where I knew I was going to feel pain, and think I did relatively well, but I realize now I only accepted that pain. I didn’t get comfortable with it. One can still resist something while accepting it, and boy, did I resist hard, even sinking into a post-surgical depression that affected me at my best friend’s wedding this past summer. A Monster Calls helped me to truly allow myself the experience of comfort in discomfort, letting myself feel, and I truly feel stronger and that I’ve experienced years worth of emotional growth I was resisting in just the past two days.
WARNING: GUSH ON FRIENDS STARTING NOW
Earlier that afternoon, before I felt benign lows, I was on very extreme highs. I went to my friend Meghan’s house to meet her husband, Dave, adorable 17-month old son, Tristan, and to work on co-writing a song together. I felt so warmly welcomed in their home, made a dear new friend in Dave, found a strong creative chemistry with Meghan (which further cemented our friendship), and was completely spellbound watching Tristan learn and observe the world around him. Reflecting back, while A Monster Calls made me feel comfortable being sad, my afternoon with Meghan and her family let me feel complete and utter fun and joy. Often, when I would experience these highs before, I would think to myself “this won’t last” due to depression. Now, I feel like it’s just as good to feel as extremes as it is to feel calm contentment, and realizing that emotions do fluctuate throughout the day. All are valid, and none should be fought.
The impetus for this post, however, came from one of my many friends named Adam (seriously, I’ve got like 4 of them). A former classmate of his went for the jugular in a Facebook argument, saying she hoped he’d never procreate, when he’s already a father to two intelligent, fun loving boys. He was able to take the high road, and I sent him a message commending him for it. He responded in a way I hadn’t expected–not in content, but in medium. He replied to me with a video message explaining what went on. Adam and I have not seen each other in person in about 3 and a half years– and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t specifically thinking this when he chose to do it by video, but being able to hear his face and see his voice, even though it was just expounding on his thoughts, made me choke up a little–and, much to my surprise, I didn’t judge myself for it. I was proud I let myself be affected by his gesture, and I thought to myself, “I need to write about letting one’s self feel, being comfortable with all of your emotions, and friendship.”
I feel truly changed over my experiences with my own emotions and Meghan and Adam the past two days. I encourage you all to do what I have done– get comfortable with extreme pain, joy, and everything in between. You’ll feel changed and stronger from it. I’ve done it, and will keep doing it.
See you all for Music Monday.
P.S. I’m thinking “Saturday Reflections” where I do these more personal, reflective posts on Saturday. Fitting? Too obvious? Let me know.