Years ago, I would have received a check like this in the mail and I would have immediately turned a blind eye. I wouldn’t have acknowledged any of the emotions it stirred up in me, in favor of an ignorantly blissful journey into distraction & self-medication.
With time, that ignorance became less blissful and a check like this immediately triggered anger spiraling downward into blame... blaming the music industry, blaming the lack of an original music scene in my hometown, blaming my social anxiety for my late start in music, blaming anything and anyone I could justify. The anger & blame would then yield to depression... and again I’d desperately try to self-medicate only to find a quickly fleeting relief. And so I’d sit and I’d loathe, wallowing in my “poor me” story. Depressed.
Then I began to meditate... with time cultivating an ability & willingness to be fully present with my pain. Not the story in my head, but the hurt in my heart. I’d receive a check like this and it would trigger healing. I’d sit and cry, and rather than believe those stories circling in my headspace, I’d just watch them play out like a tired old movie. I’d anchor to my breath, watch, witness and feel. Over and over again. I’d acknowledge the years and years of hard work, and dedication, and the insane imbalance of investment and return. I’d acknowledge all the music industry folks who had taken advantage of my bandmates and I, but rather than believing the blame my brain tried to dish out, instead I became acutely aware of the role my emotional desperation had played in attracting those people into my life and my career. I’d sit and cry, and become more & more aware of the “version” of myself I had expertly crafted for all of you. The carefully selected gig pictures I posted, always having cropped out the sparse crowd... the purposefully worded posts, always portraying perpetual success.... and all the fake smiles, always emphatically offering “great!” whenever asked how things with the band were going.
Truth was, things weren’t lining up. We weren’t finding the momentum we were desperately seeking. There were moments... big festivals, big crowds, big checks, decent album sales/downloads, opportunities, and interest (and a core of loyal supporters I have unending gratitude for).... but more often than not, I was embarrassed by my music career. I was proud of my songs, proud of my bandmates, but embarrassed by my career. That embarrassment, that shame... that’s what I hid from all of you. That’s what I hid from myself. And that was the root of the problem, herein lied the disconnect. I wanted to be seen, to be heard, and to be felt.... but I wasn’t willing to see, hear or to feel my own truth. Nor was I willing to share that truth with all of you. I tried & tried to buy-in to the persona that I’d crafted in conversations and on social media, but I couldn’t.... not in any real way... cause it was a lie. And deep within I knew that.
So I meditated and felt my heart breaking over and over again.... years worth of repressed emotional pain.... I’d feel it all and let go.... feel it all and let go. And with time, the tears for my music career stopped. I let that “poor me” chapter die. The “got it all together” persona disappeared, and with it, the shame and the embarrassment. The truth was all that I could stomach.
Now I receive a check like this and it only triggers a desire in me to open up, to share my heartbreak and ask you to see me as I am.
I write songs and I sing them, and my dream is to tour the world with my band and for our music to help others to heal, as it has done for us. I’m blessed with talented bandmates who are even better people. I believe in myself as a songwriter. I believe in my bandmates and their immense talent. I believe in our music and our mission. I don’t know if the future holds more empty bar rooms, or sold out venues, but more & more I’m ok with that. And whatever the future holds, I won’t hide from it. I have and will continue to take the time to care for myself, to honor my pain, and to foster my healing. And in that willingness to be fully present with myself, I find a confidence & belief that doesn’t hinge on anything external. It’s a self-love that I work for every day, and it’s unconditional.
#iamlove #music4mentalhealth #togetherweheal #oneBIGfam #thetruth