When I was about 5, I remember telling my mom that sometimes when I am sitting alone, my heart feels like someone just hugged me yet there’s no one there. She explained to me that was Jesus telling me He loves me. I always thought that was so cool! From that point on I would kiss this huge charcoal drawing of Jesus that was in our house. It’s a famous print and ours was huge. The look of love sketched in Jesus’ eyes was so beautiful. It was my way of telling him “I love you” back. I knew it was just a picture, but I kissed it like you would kiss a photo of a loved one you missed. Sometimes if it was hung up too high and not accessible from standing on the couch, I would kiss my fingers and touch them to His lips.
When I was around 8, I remember sitting at my desk, which was also my vanity, drawing pictures and listening to music. I remember watching myself singing in the mirror and sensed I was loved.. I just had this feeling emanating from within that I was precious and it felt like warm hug. I knew it to be truth… And it was awesome. And then I recall turning away to the direction of the music, hearing the beat and the lyrics and I felt this powerful pull… which was equally captivating, yet completely different from the other feeling. This one was more of an allure of something I didn’t know. And I wanted to know more.
I remember thinking to myself how difficult it would be to have to choose from the two experiences. One seemed dangerous in an exciting way and the other felt like peace and light. I made that note in my young mind, and it stuck with me the rest of my life. Not always in my forethought but always there. Like a book mark to resort back to at some point. In hindsight, I believe it was a premonition of the war being waged for my soul, as crazy as that sounds. But that’s the truth for all of us really. There is a constant tug of war for our souls.
When our family would go camping in the summers I would write songs during downtime. I didn’t have my tape recorder with me so I’d worry how I would remember the melody the next morning. My mom just told me I would remember, and she was always right. One summer when I was 10, I wrote 2 songs. To this day I still remember how they went and the lyrics! One was totally rock and roll (Think Pat Benatar style) and it was about lies. The other one was more of a folk song about rainbows and goodbyes. My parents would do all they could not to giggle when I sang these songs. I know now being a parent myself, that they weren’t laughing at me, but giggling because it was cute!! I didn’t think they were taking me seriously enough.
I used to be really good at recording my voice on one boom box and then recording myself singing with myself on another boom box. I was layin’ down tracks baby! …Right over my Top 40 recordings from last weeks countdown. Oops. That was always a little awkward when I’d be playing my tapes with a friend over, and then all of a sudden my voice would interject loudly, singing random verses of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. I’d jump up like lightning to fast forward it.
I am a piano, guitar, and flute quitter. But I always loved to write. Journaling and poetry… I could get my thoughts out on paper and make sense of things. My brain wasn’t patient enough to put in the long hours of practice the instruments required, and it felt more like work than fun. But writing came easily and it was instant gratification. I felt that way about art too. I made a comic strip as a kid and found other illustrator friends to draw with me and we’d sit for HOURS coming up with funny cartoon scenes. Art felt like play to me and before I knew it I was honing a lifelong skill.
I didn’t really get into painting until I was 16. That’s only because my parents intercepted a note I had saved in a drawer, explaining in detail all the dangerous things my friends and I had planned to do that weekend. So I was grounded for month over Christmas break and happened to get a Bob Ross paint set as a gift. I taught myself to paint via Bob Ross book tutorials. It was like a whole new world opened up for me and I loved everything about painting. I was grounded from the phone and pretty much all of the outside world… At least I had something to do now.
My self-sufficiency and “tough girl façade” I brought over from the 8th grade into high school evolved into an apathetic state of “teenage nightmare” for my parents. It felt nice to have my parents know the truth of my rebellion even though I was ashamed I’d made bad choices aka: (gotten caught). My dad took me to confession (didn’t get yelled at this time) and adoration at the Pink Sisters chapel. I really liked sitting with him, in that place of peace. He also had me attend AA meetings with him (he is a long time recovered alcoholic) so I could see what real life addiction looked like and stay the heck away from drugs or alcohol. I enjoyed that time with him immensely. Looking back I appreciated being grounded. Then I didn’t have to choose not to go to parties on my own. I couldn’t go because I was grounded. I was protected from the pull of the world. Everything in high school seemed alluring and dangerous and exciting and “grounding worthy”. It was really hard to withstand that lifestyle because I secretly liked it. I eventually had to write my parents an essay/apology to be ungrounded. Telling them I would never betray their trust and I would stay away from trouble. And I did just that, for a little while. Eventually I was right back where I’d started. And worse.
My depression escalated to a new level and I’d listen to depressing music that would perpetuate and agree with my mood. I wrote poems and songs about the depths of my misery. I really felt like my life motto was: “Life Sucks and then you Die.” I probably made it into a piece of art and hung in my locker.
We were heavy into the 90’s grunge phase then, with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Hole, and folk artists like Jewel who sang like poetry to me. I also listened to other female artists lamenting about their bad life choices and the misery it caused them when they let themselves be trampled on. Ya know, good quality stuff. (Eye roll)
I had a friend who loved my voice, and she was the only one I was comfortable singing in front of. She would ask me to sing and would tear up sometimes when I did. She liked to go to coffee houses and hear people singing their poetry on their guitars, lamenting all their emotions through song and so did I. All I could think about was how terrifying it would be for me to sing in front of people and how mad I was at myself for quitting guitar because no one hires an a Capella coffee-house singer! Not that I’d ever be brave enough to sing in public. Because: Debilitating Fear. But still! I was deeply saddened by the “false hope” she gave me that I could sing. She was biased after all. That Lie “You can’t sing” was engrained in my mind.
Life imitates art. I filled my mind with all of it. And my life choices reflected all I absorbed. I didn’t feel that peace or light anymore. I was addicted to the cycle of dark. I really think in the earlier days, my music, television choices, magazines and movies drew me away from the Truth. If you saw the things I was watching or reading growing up…(my kids aren’t allowed to touch it!) Or the music lyrics I sang over and over again like a prayer or a vow… It all wrote the script I was believing in my heart. I believed that me being a precious girl worthy of love, was a big fat lie, like my thighs must be (because YM magazine said so). The world told me I was never good enough. It kept making me promises of happiness that only left me deflated and wanting. I was searching for things to fill that emptiness that never seemed attainable. I felt disposable, especially in my relationships with boys. I played the field quite a bit and got played myself which was always such a shocker to me. Like, how dare you! (but made for great subject material in my poems, believing I was the innocent victim.) I based a lot of my value on how desirable I was to guys. I was always in a relationship through high school or working on getting in one. I loved the chase. And if the relationship didn’t work out, I had a back up plan already picked out. I measured my worth that way. It was a delusion of power while being completely unfulfilled inside. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted someone to save me and so far no one had those qualifications.
I tried on atheism for a while but it didn’t fit. After all, I’d dabbled in the Ouija board and had terrifying first hand experiences with the occult. I learned there were such things as evil spirits, so if there was a devil there had to be a God… There’s no dark without light. To say there was no God meant I had NOT experienced the provoked supernatural while playing the Ouija board the times I did. Oh, but I had experienced just that, and it’s forever engrained in my mind. So if I now believed in Evil, maybe there was a real God after all… But I was still me, and I believed I was hopeless, even to God.
Do you ever feel hopeless?