If you know me, you know that music is a huge part of who I am. Through the years, music has been there to help me through dark times, and help me to express myself. That really hasn’t changed as I’ve grown up.
Recently, a particular album has really rose to be something that has helped me through some dark times. About two years ago, a friend of mine showed me this song. Not because of the lyrics, but because of the music video. The song was “A fire on a hill” by Hands like Houses. The music video is fantastic and I would highly recommend watching it.
I never really paid much attention to the rest of the album, or anything else the band had put out. But recently, I’ve been wanting to write a post about that song, and decided to listen to the entire album and see if it had a similar theme, and found out that it did. I decided to convert my one post into a series of posts going through the entire album and paralleling it with my life story.
I’ve written about various aspects of my life in previous posts, and I’m hoping the content of these isn’t just a repeat. I’m going to be focusing on the emotions and feelings during the different times of my life, and not so much on the events that took place.
I will say, these are not the artist’s depictions of the songs. These are my own thoughts on them and how I’ve come to interpret them. The album is “Unimagine” by Hands Like Houses.
The first song of the album sets the mood of the rest of it fairly well for me. The opening words “we get in our own way, tripping on our feet / filling up our heads too much with words too hard to speak” sums up perfectly what it often feels like inside my head. I have a huge problem with staying inside my head and letting things spin out of control.
But the song goes so much deeper. It’s the start of a journey of self awareness, of learning who you are and how to get there. It’s so hard at first. You just see darkness and a blank page. The song takes it’s inspiration from a darkroom for photography development. Which I found to be a fantastic analogy.
When I first started looking at my mental health and decided to make that change. I felt alone. I was in a dark room, looking at a bunch of blank pictures, afraid of what I was going to find when I started to develop them and see what they hold. To the point, where I stopped. I was too afraid to look at them.
But then I met some friends who came alongside me and showed me that I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to go through this scary thing on my own. To me, this song is from their perspective. They validated the way I felt, but also loved me enough not to let me stay in that spot. The lines “I can’t explain enough, and I won’t let it last the night / I’ll show you that the image is still there unseen.” Is an entire conversation in just two lines. Countless times my friends have come to me and not let me sit in my depression.
They would sit with me through the proverbial night and continually remind me that even though I couldn’t see the happiness and joy in some of the pictures I was uncovering, that it was there. They were determined to sit with me as long as it took until I could see the joy. That phrase being repeated throughout the song is just a reminder that it’s not just one time and then your done. It happens over and over.
We’d often go back to that place, and they would always, without complaint, sit with me and help me through it. They often had to remind me that it’s “Darkest before the light” But not only did they sit with me and help, they put themselves in my shoes. They took on my pain and carried it with me.
They could have easily said “You get in your own way, tripping on your feet” but instead, they carried it with me. “We get in our own way.” They became a part of the struggle. Because of that, they experienced the pain and hurt I felt, but also they got to experience the joys I had as well. They walked along with me as equals, not as superiors.
That is one of the most important things through my walk. Having people walk with me as equals and treat me as if I have worth and as if I’m not broken, damaged, or hurt. They never pushed me further than I was willing to go, and never put me down if I canceled on plans because it was a bad day.
They were my rock during those early years (and in many cases still are) and to me, this song is their expression of support. They were going to do everything in their power to show me the light I had lost, and they weren’t going to rest until that task was accomplished.
It might be cliche, but I love you. I mean every world of that. I would gladly drop everything in order to help anyone who asked for it. It doesn’t matter to me if we have a past or not. If you need my help, I will help you, because I believe in unconditional love.
I recently saw a forum post about this topic, which was a debate of the validity of unconditional love, and if it does actually exist. As I’ve stated, I believe that yes, it does. But this post isn’t about trying to win you over to my side of thinking, or to change what you may already believe on this subject. If you don’t believe in unconditional love, that is fine. If you would rather refer to it as something else, I’m not going to fight you on it. I don’t think it matters what it’s called, as long as, in some form or another, it exists.
Unconditional love, to me, is just that, unconditional. I don’t expect anything back from you for what I offer. I don’t do what I do for anything other than to try and give you the best life I possibly can. I’ve recently started working in the mental health field, and I’ve already seen both sides of the spectrum in terms of gratitude. I’ve worked with people who are extremely grateful, and those who see you merely as a tool.
Years ago I started to tell myself a lie, this lie became the very core of who I was, and I believed it hook, line, and sinker. Only recently have I started to realise how deeply that lie affected me. The lie that I was broken. The lie had taken hold of me to such a degree that I ruined friendships over it.
When you believe that you are broken beyond repair, living life doesn’t seem to matter. You become a shell. It doesn’t matter how strong that outer shell is, it doesn’t change what’s on the inside. It wasn’t just a lie that I told myself, but one that was told to me. When I first told myself this lie, I saw it for what it was, and I reached out for help. But those I reached out to confirmed my lie instead of helping me out of it.
Eventually, I learned to live with it. I was broken, and there was nothing I could do about it. Along with that brokenness, I began to believe that I didn’t deserve happiness, I didn’t deserve friends, and I didn’t deserve to live.
For so many people, the story ends there. Never realising that they aren’t broken beyond repair. They never find the peace they are looking for because when you feel broken, all you see is the world telling you to be perfect or to get out.
But the truth is, you aren’t broken. You aren’t “damaged goods”. whether it’s rape, abuse, mental illness, or anything else that causes you to believe that, know that it’s a lie. It’s a lie that we, as a culture, have become very good at telling. You also aren’t stuck in that place forever. You are lost, and you don’t have a map to help you out. You weren’t equipped to handle the situation, and blame yourself for that. In reality, it’s not your fault.
I can’t give you a step by step detailed instruction on how to get out and find your path again. All I can do is give advice, and say what worked for me. I found my way again by going to counselling, which lead to going back to school. I would highly encourage anyone to at least try out counselling. It’s a great starting point that would hopefully point you in the right direction and at least get you started on the path.
But, the most important thing, stop believing the lie. You aren’t broken, you aren’t forgotten. Above all else, it’s not your fault. You are loved, and it is my hope that you will rediscover the path that was taken from you and be able to carry on with your life. My e-mail is here on my site, and I would love nothing more than to give you further encouragement and support if you need it.
Have you ever woken up at the bottom of a pit? No clue how you got there, who put you there, or how to get out?
It’s a deep pit, not something that is easily able to be climbed out of. It’s not very big, maybe twice your height. The ground is covered in loose stones, but the walls are smooth, with nothing to grab onto. Throwing one of the stones, you can barely make it high enough to reach the lip of the pit. You know that your basic needs need to be met. You can go about a month without food, but water, you need that.
Luckily, there’s a pool of water coming in from one of the edges of the pit. The water looks clean, and it seems to taste fine. So at least you have that covered. Using one of the small stones on the ground, you scratch a tick mark on the wall.
The next morning, you do a quick inventory check. Realizing it’s not a dream, you really are here, and there is still no way out. You do a thorough look through the bottom of the pit, seeing if there is anything that you can use to get out, but there’s nothing. Besides the pool of water, the wall seems to have no defects in it. You take one of the bigger rocks, seeing if maybe it’s possible to create foot holes in the wall, but quickly find that’s not going to be possible.
Breaking The Habit
This semester I’m in a Counselling Theory and Practice class. The entire class is learning about different Theories, and putting them into practice (so you know, aptly named). We do a lot of activities during the class that might be done in a counselling session.
This past week we all had to take a rock, while we are in class, we have to hold onto our rock. We can’t put it on the floor or table. At a minimal, it has to be on our lap. The rock is to represent a burden, and how we carry it around with us. In counselling, the counsellor would have the client take the rock with them outside of the sessions. But for class purposes, we just have them during the class period (which is a three-hour class).
If at any point during the semester we want to get rid of the rock, we have to announce in front of the whole class that we are getting rid of our burden. We then have to announce what our burden is and what steps we’ve taken/are taking to get rid of the burden. So it can’t just be something like “My burden is finance and I’m getting rid of it” then leaving it at that.