It’s possible the Meteora album saved me. Linkin Park has been one of my favorite bands for what feels like forever. I have, on more than one occasion, escaped from the voices in my head listening to the most perfect order of songs. I have never listened all the way through without feeling freed from whatever was suffocating me.
The way Chester Bennington could yell about the right to be belong, to be heard, to not be ignored. Those unapologetic tones have wrapped strong arms around so many of my anxious thoughts and feelings and lulled them into a sense of knowing that has validated my pain and struggles.
The words perfect – the anger justified.
When Chester Bennington took his own life, the radio stations paid tribute to his life and incredible gift with extra play-time. I listened more closely and cautiously to how deeply I identified with his words.
How difficult it must be to be that famous and struggle with literally anything. I have experienced just the tiniest bit of “internet celebrity,” and it has resulted in constant over-evaluation of what’s okay to share with people and hanging out a lot with my good friend, Isolation. I cannot even imagine what it might be like on such a larger scale.
It appears these days, as soon as certain people get a whiff of your vulnerability and humany parts, they take it as invitation to rip you apart. For those of us who struggle with severe mental illness, this can take an incredible toll.
I have always been “too” all the things; too emotional, too needy, too fat or too skinny, too loud, too dramatic, too insecure, too vulnerable and too trusting.
I have always been too human. This has caused me to want to be more like you and less like me. At some point I decided that “numb” was better than “crawling in my skin.”
I’ve wasted innumerable hours (okay, most probably years) dissecting my desire to self-harm. I have always needed some form of escape. I have convinced myself that if I could just figure out “WHY?!?” it would help me solve the riddle and stop.
Maybe I’ve been messed upsince birth. Perhaps my adoption damaged me in ways I will never understand and set the destructive ball in motion. I could point to many aspects of my childhood, the lack of adults I had in my corner willing to take the action necessary to keep me safe, or the repeated emotional/physical abuse or messed up sexual trauma.
By the time one of my abusive boyfriends attempted to take my life, it was almost comical how easily the trauma flowed in, out, and through me. I was familiar with the game. I knew what to do and how to behave. I knew it was okay (and even vital) to lean on people, but I also knew to take the brunt of all the things myself as not to negatively affect or burden the feelings or lives of my supporters. I know how to blame myself for needing too much from people, and so I often take a polite pass — even when it means I have to let all of the air out of my tires and suffocate.
Thanks to an incredible therapist and my willingness to attend those pesky weekly sessions, I have learned that my desire to be “gone” from this planet or to “sleep and not wake up” is a symptom of the overwhelm I may carry with me forever.
I used to immediately check myself into an inpatient facility at the first sign of those thoughts, but I have come to trust myself more every day and to speak up when the water gets too high. It’s much easier to translate the noises in my head with help. Because I’m a grown woman who sometimes forgets she can’t save the whole world – that she is worthy of support, forgiveness, and love.
Listening to Bennington sing about not having “room to breathe,” being “one step closer to the edge,” and “about to break,” has helped me sit there long enough to catch my own breath. Sometimes screaming along in the car that “…all I want to do is be more like me and be less like you,” or “I won’t be ignored,” has helped me hold my own reigns.
All of those songs, and my truths within them, have allowed me great pause and reflection from one insane situation to another. They have become a part of my strength by giving me permission to own them and feel however I need to without apologizing to other people for it.
And so, when someone whose words I’ve so much identified with completes suicide, I am forced to halt once again. Just the way I did when the world lost Robin Williams, who deflected his pain with smiles and ability to make the crowd laugh with him, I pause.
I take a step back, and I evaluate my priorities. I take stock of all the ways I still self-harm, and how they might be contributing to my inevitable downfall. Because some of my stupid things don’t look all that stupid anymore.
My desire to self-harm has evolved with recovery and willingness to walk through pain. I have mastered the art of making “helping” look productive, and you may even congratulate or encourage me to keep up the great work. Because I am a crafty survivor of trauma, and I know how to pretend. I know how to blend in and make the crowd laugh along with me, and if I don’t remain vigilant with self-awareness those things will likely continue to my bitter end.
Never do I want my family and friends to have to bury me, because I couldn’t ask for help. Never do I want my children to be motherless because I ignored a glaring sign to slow down the Self-Destruction Express. And so I pause. I take stock of my feelings and how far I can stretch them. I reconnect with myself and my daily prayers during my morning coffee and early interrogations by small humans. I force awareness into the places I know too well provide the ick inside me to hide and fester.
I have get real honest with the few people in my circle I can trust with Me, and I cry. I cry for the little girl inside me that still sometimes feels less than worthy of the tears, and I remind her that she’s okay. I cry for the loss of a fellow human being who felt too much and didn’t feel worthy of other options. I cry for all the people who may ever feel the ways we do, and do not have access to a supportive ear… and then I get back to work — to do my part to remind us all — we do.
Check out the album, and let me know what you think! If you have Amazon Prime, you can stream it for FREE! If you purchase this album through the affiliate links on this page, I will receive the tiniest bit of money at no extra cost to you.
Dude, how else am I supposed to afford anti-depressants and coffee?