“I am barely breathing and I can’t find the air
Don’t know who I’m kidding; imagining you care
And I could stand here waiting: a fool for another day
I don’t suppose it’s worth the price, it’s worth the price
The price that I might pay… but I’m thinking it over, anyways”
– “Barely Breathing”, Duncan Sheik
…I awoke the other morning, reeling from a vivid dream involving my former fiancee. I lay in bed, overcome with a deep, aching grief. The pain was undeniable and I desperately wanted to let it out, but something was holding me back. Amidst the turmoil, a calm, rational voice in my mind was telling me to lay still and be quiet. I became aware of all the locked places in my body which had protected me from expressing these feelings for God-knows how long. I couldn’t stand to hold on any longer, but was also terrified at the thought of letting go.
I had a choice to make.
In spite of the uncertainty and fear, I didn’t want to remain stuck any longer. I summoned my courage, took a deep breath and allowed myself to wail. I really hope the neighbours didn’t hear 🙂
“I want something else
To get me through this
Semi-charmed kinda life”
– “Semi-Charmed Life”, Third Eye Blind
…Soon after, I found myself sitting on the subway, tired and raw. I realized that there was no way I could get through the upcoming day or be present with my students if I had to pretend that I was “fine”. I encouraged myself to play an ‘honesty’ game: whenever people asked me how I was doing, I would actually tell them. “Today, I’m feeling depressed”.
“Everyone’s got to face down the demons
Maybe today we can put the past away”
– “Jumper”, also Third Eye Blind
…My courage and vulnerability paid off in incredible ways. I received eye contact, words of concern and encouragement from my colleagues and students. Many asked why I was feeling depressed, and so I told them: “The holiday season is always hard for me, and this is the first in probably nine years where I’ll be single”. They listened and understood. Some offered advice, but what I truly appreciated was having permission to feel the way I was feeling without judgement or criticism. Incredibly, one of my classes asked me to share the sound healing I’ve been working on, and so I took a chance and did it. They clapped for me and smiled. It was amazing.
These three songs came into my life yesterday just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the experiences I’ve related to them. I grew up listening to 90s alternative rock but wasn’t a fan of either Duncan Sheik or Third Eye Blind. I probably heard “Barely Breathing” a few times in passing on the radio (yes, the radio), and honestly found Third Eye Blind’s singles so poppy that I dismissed them outright as “shit” without even trying to listen. Nonetheless, here were these three songs I hadn’t thought of for years, coming into my life ready to perfectly express a particular element of the challenges and growth I was navigating.
I can often feel the same way about my emotions. As I encourage myself to be more open-minded and live a full and satisfying life, I am frequently confronted with strong, sometimes over-powering feelings. Sometimes I think I know why I’m feeling what I’m feeling; other times I am completely clueless. Sometimes I am able to care for and reassure myself; other times I am left to flounder until I reach out (hopefully soon) for help.
In my journey to live authentically, the need to trust is becoming essential: Trusting that the experiences life brings me (and my emotional responses) are empowering rather than impeding my growth. Trusting that I already possess a wealth of knowledge and tools to care for myself. Trusting that there are loving, compassionate people to carry me through the moments where I cannot carry myself. Trusting that I will know when to look inside for answers and when to look outside for help.
..Trusting that, if 90s alternative rock songs pop into my head, I should pay attention. Especially to the shitty ones 😉
We are such complicated, dynamic beings. We experience life in an infinite variety of ways, yet all crave love, connection and acceptance at our core. You are more resourceful, knowledgable and powerful than you think! If you ever feel you need some help, I’m here for you.
Thanks for reading.