Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Waiting for the Night

I have a playlist on my ipod/iphone/shuffle called WRITING, because it contains songs that I not only have included on my mental "soundtrack" for certain stories I'm working on, but it has music that I love so much that I just have to stop what I'm doing and listen to it and let the emotions and memories and thoughts they trigger flow over me, hopefully in a creative jump start sort of way.

My junior and senior year of high school were quietly rough on me. I was reluctantly becoming an independent adult forced to make adult decisions, I had mono and missed nearly a month of school, I had hard core insomnia, afraid of looking out my windows at night for fear of seeing a UFO.  Strangely, I wasn't afraid of seeing the UFO so much as knowing that everyone in the world would think I was insane for the rest of my life.

These things may have been, or lets just say were, triggered by the realization that my personal life outside of my family was miserable. I had forsaken so many of my true, wonderful friends for the "love" of a boyfriend that basically controlled my every movement with guilt, blackmail, coercion and veiled threats of physical harm. It's the old story of the mousy, homely girl with braces and a poorly feathered hairstyle being noticed by a clever predator who knew just exactly how to push her buttons. (He told me he loved me and bought me a lot of skittles). I wouldn't end that horrid beast of a relationship until after my freshman year of college when I realized I was being dragged down like I was tied to an anchor, which everyone had told me for three years prior but I refused to hear because I was confident that 1) no one would ever tell me I was beautiful or they loved me ever again and 2) I would suffer endless ridicule for my poor judgement.

Anyhoo. Depeche Mode was my band back then, as my family can tell you. I was even GIVEN PERMISSION TO SKIP SCHOOL by my mother to go see them in Saratoga Springs. Although I will tell you why: it's because my boyfriend wasn't going. Violator was the album of the day, and the fifth song on the first side (albums used to have SIDES, kids) was "Waiting For The Night." Quiet, slow, the deep melted butterscotch vocals, soothing.
I'm waiting for the night to fall
When everything is bearable
And there in the still
All that you feel is tranquility
Tranquility happens to be one of my favorite words because it sounds how it feels, to me at least. It makes me think of jewel blue water and cool breezes and the all-natural euphoria of just laying out in perfect weather and not thinking of anything...just being.  It's part of my "seems too easy" life goals.  Sure I want to publish a book, have a talk show on the radio, lose 100 pounds, but the common undercurrent in all of that is that I feel like if I had those things, I'd be at peace. I'd be content. Everything would be bearable and I would live in tranquility.  Of course, the experts say that's a sure way to live a life of overweight disappointment, assuming that the things you want would make you happy, that you'd have no trouble, that your mind would be quiet. But it's nice to imagine that being a size four brings limitless inner peace.

But back in the day, when I couldn't sleep or couldn't stop thinking, or needed to just slow down, this song did the trick. It made me think of how good it felt to be around a campfire in the mountains, or to stand outside and look at the stars on a winter night that feels like even the air and the sky are frozen. It reminded me then, and even now, that true tranquility comes from taking any opportunity to just BE, not to manufacture peace or contentment, but to find it, maybe only for five minutes, every day. To turn off the thinking and just breathe and stare. It gets hard to find those five minutes when you have a five year old who wants to pretend she's a mean kitty and a dog that won't stop stealing colored pencils, but that's what bubble baths are for.

It works.

But the question for the next musical therapy section is, "Why are you trying so desperately to stop thinking?" The answer lies in my psychiatrist's diagnosis:  CATASTROPHIC SPIRALING. Another tale, for another time.

-Jessica

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Jessica McCartney is a freelance writer and occasional actress in Chicago. When not expressing herself creatively, she and her husband are cleaning up the creativity of her daughter and wrangling her "challenged" chihuahua Todd.  She has worked with Depression and Anxiety since 2001 and hopes to help others in their quest for contentment. Click here to check out Jessica's posts. 

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