I was maybe eleven or twelve when I first discovered this song. We were in the early 2000s.
I remember listening to it on repeat. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it was that drew me into it. I would walk to the nearby green, or the park, or down to the river and it teased the cracks in my mind.
I had the song on some compilation CD that introduced me to a catalytic array of strange and beautiful sounds; feelings I had yet to feel or figure out. I would lay on my back and toss and turn restlessly.
Looking back on it, I felt very isolated, confounded, heavy yet empty. I was emotionally raped and defunct. I thought it was normal for a long time. In some ways, it is. At the very least, it’s not unheard of.
My mother brought me up in Catholic Church as she had been. During this era of my life, I had more or less renounced the existence of God. Not sure if I ever really believed in a Catholic God at all.
Spiritually starving, my search had begun.
The internet was still reasonably young and so was I. I couldn’t just Google,
“Help, I’m having an existential crisis! What shall I do?”
I could hardly make any sense of it even if I could Google it. After all, the descent into an endless void of emptiness is not the most backlit path to enlightenment. I had no idea what I was going through and I fell into myself.
It wouldn’t be ‘til fifteen years later, when I would know the details and realise I had been receiving the rippling effects of my mother’s extreme childhood trauma. And the Christian cult she was raised in left her almost totally unequipped to deal with her emotions.
Unpredictable and punitive, my upbringing pales into white – save for the odd, immensely vivid memory. Physically abused, smothered and neglected, experiencing emotional whiplash day in and day out; I was a wreck. How can one feel so burdened yet soulless at the same time? Years of transmitted pain compounding down upon my head, my body. I know I’m not alone in this.
I was so angry.
My lash-back was explosive. There was so much violence, it was almost routine. I was both terrified and numb. I felt like a fragile, diminished water lily floating atop black waters. Such demonic rapture on the cusp of puberty; I did not grow gracefully.
My father disgusted me too. He was always so busy with work. Sometimes, he would be away for two years at a time with sporadic phone calls thrown in there. I felt like he had abandoned me to deal with this fucking mad woman.
I often had to be the parent when mum was incapable of handling things. Though in a sense, I had no parents around to show me what a functioning adult was.
I can’t speak for my younger sister. I know my mother rarely touched her, but would be overprotective and controlling. The silence must kill her.
After rewiring my brain each time, a feeling of pity overcomes me when I think about my mum. But there is also love and understanding now. I can’t blame her for wanting to forget, for suppressing the dark, throbbing corners of her childhood. I don’t know many people who are particularly fond of looking directly into their pain.
Yet, I admit that it often disturbs me when I see people glaze over their lives like this, content and deluded. I’m much too idealistic to ever be satisfied with the credulous affirmations they tell themselves.
I also understand that nihilism is all the rage right now, but it’s not for me.
I would never give up on all that I have destroyed myself for. Does that make sense?
Life matters to me. Physical existence matters to me.
Your beliefs matter. What you strive for in life matters. What you fight against matters.
There is no denying there is a sense of freedom, escaping into the stream of nothingness. The quiet stillness of the night, the boundless creation behind the world of forms. It is relieving and inspiring, liberating. It’s a tempting thought to consider that nothing really exists so let’s just do whatever. But I believe everything exists ex nihilo, made by Catholic God or not.
I read the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu around the age of twenty-one. I immediately connected with it.
I love listening to the Silence pulsing, the persistence of the wind and the chatter of the city.
As I listened to the emotions unfurling in my heart, there seemed to be a prying open and it gave me the sense of a glowering light behind the enactments of our lives.
Years later, after a huge failure of a relationship, I would again question myself and be faced with the wounds of hurt and emptiness I felt.
As opposed to my tainted, sexual awakening of teenage promiscuity, I realised I was a hunter of something deeper. I was hunting for love.
I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.
I lost my mind. This time, I understood that I had gone temporarily insane. The bottomless plummeting, the weakness, the hopelessness, the derealization. I was just as whacked out as I thought he was. I thought I was going to die.
Reminiscing on my youthful rebellion, as I felt the same intrusive clusterfuck of emotions and thoughts crashing in on me, I looked around at my life and realised on a very empathic level that everyone was barely holding it together.
I recognised the face of God in my lover. He had set me free. He had saved my life. Finally, the time was ripe and the moment had come in the form of this beautiful man. The truth had become audible, logical and clear. He shook the foundations of my mind. I cared about something more than my own pain, my own feelings, my own story in a way that was very real. I felt new. No more hiding.
And then I saw God everywhere – in a way more profound than I had ever known intellectually. I really felt it shifting in my cells, in my soul.
The purest of all drugs; naturally generated love for a man and at long last, I began to embrace myself too.
My love, my teacher, my confidant, how can I ever express the way I feel for you? To think I almost lost you.
How could I give up on all that I had destroyed myself for?
I think it must be impossible for quiet epiphanies of self-realisation to be unaccompanied by tremendous feelings of love. They are almost one in the same.
This song was the soundtrack through a lot of hardships when I was young. I didn’t even understand it was carrying me like that. It takes me back to a time where I would gaze across the park lake, attempting to ground myself, talking sense into myself, fighting off nihilistic self-pity and hopelessness in the melancholy withdraw of England’s Autumn.
There is strength in letting go. Never give up the fight. Those things may seem contradictory but they’re not really.
To whoever it is that may read this, I hope these words may offer you some comfort in knowing you are not alone. Everyone encounters a true unveiling if you are actually looking for it. Let this moment be a haven in the storm.