MUSIC & MEMORIES & ADDICTION
“Piano Man” sung by Bill Joel reminds me of my first days of sobriety!! Odd, isn’t it? The song would play in the car as I drove home in Germany. Many times I was driving home from a 12-step meeting. Instead of going to rehab, I chose to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. It worked! Why did that song resonate with me so thoroughly and deeply during those early days of no alcohol? Looking back, I believe I connected with the loneliness of the people in that piano bar. Those people were trying to deaden their collective pain as well as each one’s individual pain.
I never drank more than one drink in a bar alone. My preferred location to drink began at dinner in a restaurant with my daughter and my abusive husband. At the time, I was trying to pretend it was a social drink or two because that is all I would consume in a restaurant. This restaurant dinner was a stalling tactic on my part. Why cook a healthy meal at home if it meant the abuse would begin sooner? Later, I would drink a glass of wine before/during the abuse and torture. Then after “it” was finished, I would drink another glass or two alone by myself watching TV pretending to be normal. Most nights my drinking over this length of time did not lend itself to out-and-out drunkenness. Nope. It was a self-medicating technique used to quell the anxiety, the pain, the worthlessness, and the hopelessness I felt.
Inside I knew my alcohol usage was causing a problem. There were nights of blackouts. I hated the morning-after headaches, the guilt, the remorse, and the promises to myself that I would not drink that much or any again. Of course, those promises never lasted. Over a year or two, I sought help from someone that denied my alcohol was a problem until one day. I’m not sure why that day he recommended that I talk to someone in the know about alcoholism. I did. I am so grateful I did. That person slowly guided me to my own discovery that I could stop drinking, that a 12-step program could work, and to the person who became my pastoral counselor. Oh, I did not stop drinking alcohol until I was in pastoral counseling with Fr. Marc. He told me he would not counsel me if I did not stop the alcohol abuse. Fr. Marc never gave me a time to quit by date though. Within six or seven weeks of counseling, I made the commitment to attend those 90 meetings in 90 days during a moment of fragility. Why then? Why not sooner? Why not later? I do not know. Why question a blessing?
Many of us who suffered abuse and/or torture use or used alcohol, drugs, cutting or eating to self-medicate, to forget, to keep on living. Yes, these methods which seem so self-destructive kept us alive. Life is filled with contradictions. Eventually though, these methods of coping lose their luster; and, they may cause other problems. Most of us need to give up these addictions in order to gain our health … our physical health, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Music … music can take us back to a certain point in time … to happy moments, to pensive moments, to moments of terrible abuse. I have recently discovered that I hear music differently now … deeper …. For a while after certain life tragedies, I stopped listening to music. Music caused me too much pain. Slowly, I allowed music into my life. Fortunately at work, I cannot avoid music (although I can avoid giving it any awareness). Yet, certain songs that caused me pain in my past have played over and over when I work. This healing caught me unawares. Suddenly I could listen to songs that caused me pain … especially “Leaving on A Jet Plane” which brought me back to happy memories of my daughter right before I lost her through an unjust court system. As I write this, “I Won’t Give Up” sung by Jason Marz is playing. It is a song that reminds me of my daughter now and gives me hope. Life is a journey … a long road … There is much to come … I’m hoping on pleasant and awesome surprises as well as the normal challenges of life!
Music is a joy! There is a song or harmony for any mood. Music has the ability to change your mood. What do you listen to these days? I find myself listening to uplifting music. The sitting and listening to sad music days are more or less over for me. I do not want to sit in sadness or negativity anymore. I want to focus on what may be, what goodness there is, what may become of me in a new and creative way.
What variety there is in music! My heart is filled with gratitude that I can once again enjoy music!