I was already feeling morose. I pulled up A Journey Down the Well’s “Sorry Monsters, I Have to Grow” and was listening to that along with Soko’s “The Destruction of the Disgusting Ugly Hate.” I was ready to indulge myself and make a play list for this monstrous black dog feeling before I went for a therapeutic walk in the woods. Then, I saw that Lou Reed had died. It hit me much harder than I would have ever dreamed. I actually cried. I couldn’t control the tears welling up. Wow. The tears took me by surprise. It took the wind out of me.
I admit I’ve been out of sorts for the last several days, letting stress get the better of me. I’ve followed my typical pattern that the overabundance of stress yields: being anxious, then quite prickly and obnoxious and eventually, the steam runs out and it’s melancholy and ugh. I guess Halloween time has let the monsters loose inside of me. I’m sitting here writing this and have no idea where I’m going. Where I’m going with this, or with the long-term trajectory of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. This is the kind of globalization crap that goes through my head and taunts me. Makes me anxious, irritable and eventually non-responsive and to where I just want to escape.
I think that’s maybe why I reacted so viscerally to Lou Reed’s demise. He has always given me a place to escape with his music. I consider it his poetry, as it is so expressive and evocative. I had heard the Velvet Underground growing up and also Lou Reed as a solo artist on the radio so I had a general knowledge before I ever had listened to an entire album. When I was about 19 I was given a tape of Live at Max’s Kansas City. I was enchanted with it and listened to it again and again. I loved the chill vibe and it is easy to transport myself into the performance, always laughing when someone says, “Go get me a double Pernod.”
After listening to that, Lou Reed kept popping up everywhere. Whenever I would start looking into a new music or art interest, it seems like he was always connected somehow. I’m drawn to his style and his influence on other musicians and artists. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at how interconnected all these people are.
His music is able to speak to me in a way that is very intimate. His lyrics are full of wisdom, humor and fearlessness in exposing the undeniable juxtaposition of dark and light in life. He sweeps me up in his musical cascade and makes me live it, feel it in my core and experience it with a strange authenticity. I remember walking back from class one day listening to Perfect Day and I was no longer walking by the Boston Harbor. I don’t know where I was, in some sort of reverie. It was strange, I knew my body was walking but I couldn’t feel it anymore, I was somewhere else, somewhere good. Yes, Lou could make me forget myself. And that is one of the greatest gifts anyone could give me.
Lately, I’ve been so caught up in these negative ideas in my head that I’ve forgotten reality. That is the slippery slope of reality, at its essence, it is what you believe, what you tell yourself. I have made up these stories and decided to believe them instead of what is true. I have made my imaginary problems real and started living out of a space of fear. Have you ever felt so horrible, so miserable, so disgusting, that you would do anything, take anything to get rid of the overwhelming feeling of repulsiveness? That is how I felt. I could not stand to be in my own skin. I wanted nothing better than to cease to exist. I wanted to obliterate all consciousness.
I go on with this story: I have no real reason to feel this way. Yet, I do. Is that just the nature of the black dog? I do not know. I feel confused and upset. I hate that I am like this. It is hell. Really? It is. And the best part? It is self-imposed. I must love to torture myself. I am the sadist and the masochist. Isn’t that what this is? It is in my head. It is not real suffering anymore. It is imagined. Stupid. Imagined. Suffering. And I’m eating it up with a spoon, asking for seconds. Dumb girl. It is funny how I was so excited at the possibilities in my life just a week ago and now, blech. It is far too difficult to do this. I’d like to stop now. So I guess I will stop. This. Now.
This is the story I was telling myself. It’s a familiar one. I’m sure many reading this have had a similar story. And I’m sure some of you probably haven’t had these thoughts and may find them disturbing. When you live with these entities for so long, they just become a part of your world. They don’t seem so much like scary monsters as misunderstood souls. So, you invite them inside instead of leaving them locked out in the cold. I inquire why they have visited.
I know in part it is because I am not taking care of myself properly. I realized it’s now almost 5:30 and I haven’t eaten today. I haven’t been hungry for the past few weeks. I know my stomach is empty but I can’t be bothered to eat. The emptiness inside matches something deeper. Yes, I am being self indulgent and ridiculous. I know this. That is part of what irritates and annoys me. I was already mourning before I ever even knew it. Damn Sunday Morning.
I seem to get caught up in things lately. I believe this is due to overflowing stress levels and the need to escape. I feel as though a strong current picks me up and carries me down a tumultuous river. I get adrift in a moment, a thought, a feeling and I can’t pull myself out any more than I could fight against the current and win. I know struggling only makes me sink further. I need to find a way to snap myself back to reality quicker. To know when I’ve been caught and am being pulled into the murky imaginings of my mind. To know I am experiencing the powerful seduction of the shadows of the inner world. To throw myself a buoy before I drown.
Somehow, I’ve found a way to stay afloat with the help of some perspective. I need not focus on the deficiencies in myself but rather be grateful, truly grateful, for what I have and what I have accomplished. That is a great deal. Instead of worrying about the future, focus on what is happening right here and now. Focus on what I can control. Yes, I am and have been experiencing massive amounts of fear and resistance and therefore stress. That is because there is a tremendous amount of change happening in my life. The boat is rocking perilously and I am in an internal panic.
I basically have to rebuild my life in a very different way than I have in the past. I’ve been focusing on the fear and trepidation of this process instead of the excitement of new opportunities, the promise of a new beginning and the anticipation of new possibilities. Even now as I write this, half trying to convince myself of the positive, I get a dark churning in my stomach, tightness in my throat and a clenching in my jaw. Yes, panic wants to rise up and fear wants to rule. They want me to play in the current and drag me beneath the surface. I need a slap in the face—a fist through the windowpane—to wake me from this self-imposed nightmare.
Change is difficult. It is necessary. It will always be present. Fear is not synonymous with change. I can choose the mindset I have about my experience and what I will focus on. I will NOT make decisions based on fear and panic. That is not how I want to live. No good decision will ever come out of fear. I refuse to believe the lies they tell me. I am fine. I am more than fine, I am extraordinary and I will come out on top. I will define my reality. I will have success in all that I wish to have as long as I keep focus, work hard and follow my gut instincts. Indeed, I will reap just what I sow. I am strong, capable and an asset to all I encounter. I am the long-standing warrior in this struggle and I will prevail. Yes, I have lost some battles, that is expected. I always regroup and find a way to rise again.
“I met myself in a dream
And I just wanna tell you, everything was alright
Hey now, baby, I’m beginning to see the light”