tinhuviel: (Syd Barrett)

The past few days have seen a good friend post several Pink Floyd songs to his Facebook timeline, a news story on Roger Waters' unsurprisingly politicized concert tour and, just now, my iTunes essentially saying, "Okay, asshole, the universe is telling you to listen to the Floyd, so I guess I'll just put you back in cosmic line. Motherfucker..."

There are often reasons for why I choose not to listen to certain songs or bands at certain times.  One reason is because of the memories associated with them.  Another is because of the pain of musical empathy.  Pink Floyd falls into that category, so I have to be careful of my mood and mindset before I partake of the auditory manna that is Pink Floyd.  

What exactly is this thing I call musical empathy?  Basically, it's when I feel the message of the music so deeply that I become that music.  I got a double dose of musical empathy with Pink Floyd.  Even though I'd heard their music before, I didn't really get into them until I was given a 45 RPM of 'On the Turning Away' by Uncle Michael in 1986. While I was reading an article in Rolling Stone about Pink Floyd, the next 45 that dropped on my record player just happened to be that record.  I heard the song for the first time whilst reading about Syd Barrett's descent into madness for the first time.  What are the odds? I felt his story so deeply, so jarringly, I felt like I was losing my mind.

It didn't help when, just a few months later, I would meet the man who would be my closest friend for 25 years, and he was very heavily into the band, particularly 'The Wall'.  I saw the movie for the first time with him.  We ended up memorising every single vocal noise on the album and the movie soundtrack.  There were times when we'd spend almost every evening after work, watching and acting out the film, or just listening to the album and singing along.  It was a beautiful time, but also a dangerous one, for me.  I was too immersed in it all, and my first bad bout with depression occurred right around this time.  It would be a few years before I was diagnosed with depressive disorder, but I think Pink Floyd awoke some long-slumbering serpent that may not have reared its head for a long time to come, if ever.

Do I regret my relationship with Pink Floyd?  Only when my mood prevents me from listening to them.  This past week has seen me in "one of my turns", so listening just wasn't an option, until today.  So now I'm bingeing and it sounds and feels oh so very good!

tinhuviel: (Default)


Over the past couple of months, I've been trying to make sense of why I tend to rapidly bounce between agony and rage. And I have decided that the rage is a side-effect of the agony. It is an act of self-preservation.

All my life, I've been able to sense the feelings around me, and when I was introduced to TV, that sense extended to the people and animals I saw in shows and news stories. I emotionally participated in the joys and sorrows that were brought to my attention, and it was usually a good experience. Sometimes, though, an indefinable ache would impose itself on me when I would see people or animals suffering in some way, if only emotionally. And that ache tended to linger long after the experience itself. It never truly left, but it would just get bigger and stronger with subsequent events that added to it.

This ache would also impose itself on the more positive feelings I tried to enjoy when emotionally linked into my environment. After the nasty break-up of the Parental Units, which kept me in a kind of limbo, both physically and mentally, it became harder for me to grasp onto the good feelings and embrace them simply for what they were, without the ache encroaching on them.

So, around the age of 7, I began to avoid anything that might pique an emotional response. It would be a few years later when I'd learn the word stoic, but that was exactly what I was striving for, a sublime state of stoicism. To a certain degree, I was rather quite successful in my efforts. I avoided anything that might threaten too much emotion, and I sought out people, situations, books, art - anything - that would encourage nothing but positive reactions.

But, with the death of the Paternal Grandmother Unit in 1993, a crippling blow to my stoic defense left me exposed in a way I had not been since 1974. I was still young in my Wiccan Tradition, and had been regularly opening myself up to psychic possibilities, especially when participating in Circles. That combination threw me deeper in the emotional experience than I had ever been. I found myself struggling to read news stories of what was going on in the world. And many accounts of animal abuse I might accidentally stumble across on TV or in the press would leave me incapable of function on any level. I'm not exaggerating. There were times when I was physically violently ill, trapped in the bathroom, repeatedly vomiting.

Since then, it's only gotten worse, and my practice of stoicism has been, and continues to be, lacking merit in fortifying my emotional keep. In 1999, I gave myself the permission to get angry. And I've never looked back. If there's such a thing as stoic anger, I have it. In spades. It could be described as a cat in self-defense mode: standing still, muscles clenched, puffed out to look bigger, and vocalising her displeasure. A lot of it is false bravado, but some of it can only be described as an assurance that, if pushed too far, she will take an eye out with her claws.

Since 2011, though, I've had to step up my objections to the pain and suffering in the world. Instead of enjoying a little bit of "down time" with stoicism, I find I have to maintain a low level of anger just to be able to function. My default setting is seething, and it can be exhausting. Fortunately, humour can come to the rescue, and often does! But, when I open up my newsfeed on Google or Yahoo, simple headlines can throw me into despair. I can't watch shows or movies that even hint at animal abuse or atrocities inflicted upon a human or humans by other humans. The ache never fully goes away and the seething is there to keep me from losing what little mind I have left.

I often find myself wishing I were a full-blown sociopath or a psychopath, because I envy their inability to empathize. When people wonder why I rage against so much, I hope they realise that the rage is a side effect of empathy, a defense mechanism.

Sometimes, anger is the only thing that keeps me from killing myself.

August 2017

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