Remembering How to Dream

Posted: November 19, 2010 in anxiety, healing, rape
Tags: , ,

I came home from class tonight with every intention of getting some work done. That didn’t happen. I sat down with my laptop to answer some emails, and flicked the TV on for background noise. While I was flicking through channels looking for something to watch, I came across the Josie and the Pussycats movie, which I haven’t watched in years. It used to be one of my favorites when it first came out, which was right around the time I graduated from high school. I have distinct memories of cruising around in my first car blasting the soundtrack and singing along at the top of my lungs.

It’s a cheesy movie by any standard, but I still enjoy it. Back then, almost ten years ago, I loved that movie because it was a cheesy, funny, enjoyable story about three ordinary girls becoming rock stars. (I also used to love the Archie comics…I admit it). It was one of the movies I watched when I was playing my guitar and scribbling lyrics and dreaming about starting a band. The sky was the limit back then. I was going to be a rock star and nothing was going to stand in my way.

I started a band the minute I turned 16, and for the most part it was a great experience. We even made a demo that I still have. It’s bad, but I still love it. It felt like things were starting to fall into place: all I had to do was keep dreaming big enough to make it happen. I dyed my hair black and filled my wardrobe with thrift store clothes and Converse All-Stars in assorted colors.

Things change. That first summer after starting my band, I fell in love with the guitarist. We made out a few times, and then he broke my heart. The drummer (who was, to put it mildly, a nice guy, but more than a little unbalanced), flipped out. One terrifying high-speed car ride home and my first band was a thing of the past. I was devastated. I spent weeks literally curled up in a ball, shaking and thinking the world was going to end. I watched movies like The Crow repeatedly searching for some sense of comfort. It didn’t work. It was a long, miserable summer.

In August I started my senior year of high school. I started casting around for other musicians without really knowing what I was doing. A few weeks into the semester, some friends invited me to play bass on a demo they were doing and I said yes. The day we were supposed to rehearse for the first time, I was waiting at the coffee shop where I was scheduled to meet them, and I got a phone call saying there had been a car accident and I needed to come pick them up. When I got to the scene, a guy in his early twenties was waiting to meet me. He was cute and funny and charming. I fell in love instantly, and spent a couple of weeks believing everything was going to be perfect.

Then I started to learn things. First, it was how deeply he was addicted to drugs. I decided I could live with that, as long as I wasn’t pressured to do them. Then I learned he was cheating on me. I told him I could live with that, too, even though it broke me up inside.  Then he was arrested on old drug charges and tossed in jail. After a few hellish days of pleading phone calls and some additional peer pressure from his friends, I scraped together all the tip money I had from my waitressing job and bailed him out of jail.

Then he disappeared. Terrified of having my heart shattered again, I prayed and waited and called repeatedly. About a week after he got out of jail, I ran into him on the street and we went back to his house. At the end of the night, he raped me. Twice. Then he disappeared again. I finally reported him, (a whole different story). It was my word against his, and in the end, there was very little that could be done. I finally went off to college and prayed it was all behind me.

The past is never truly behind us until we learn to let it go. I wasn’t able to. I made bad decisions in a desperate attempt to compensate for how traumatized I was. I’ll break them down in other posts, because they’re worth talking about in more detail. In the midst of struggling to manage being away from home, having constant panic attacks, underdeveloped social and coping skills, and trying to balance being in college, I had very little energy left for a band. I talked to some people who were either creepy, more interested in making out, or totally unmotivated. I had lost all confidence and all faith in my dream. I turned all my energy on school instead – it was something I was good at and seemed to offer me a future.

So here I am, almost ten years, three degrees, and $100,000 worth of student loan debt later. This past summer, I went to a concert and suddenly it was like I’d been slapped in the face with something I’d convinced myself I didn’t care about anymore. I remembered how much I used to love singing and playing music. I remembered for a few hours how deeply I used to believe in my dream and how passionate I used to be about reaching it. Something snapped in me then. I realized I wasn’t old enough to give up on something I truly love.

I started retraining my voice and bought a PA system this summer, and casting around talking to other musicians. I pulled my bass out of its case for the first time in years. I started writing songs again. I realized that, in contrast to being 16 and writing about things I had no experience with, I now had something to say with my music, and it’s a message I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. It’s been a lot of false starts, and it’s been frustrating, but in the end, it will be worth it. I have an audition on Saturday for a new band. Watching Josie and the Pussycats was a nice reminder that those dreams from when I was 16 are still alive and I can make what I want out of them.  I have a lot more life experience behind me now, and I’ve done a lot of growing up and healing since I was a heartbroken, devastated teenager. I’m in a much better place to be able to handle the stresses of being in a band and being out in front of an audience. Before, any critique would have been devastating. Now, I’m ready to keep growing and learning how to dream again. Big.

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