That's My Heart

One of the great things about song lyrics is that they can make things click for us that..well...didn't click without them.  Or maybe it's just me?  I love listening to the symbolism in songs, but it takes a really special one to make me feel like, yeah, that was written about me. But it happened, and surprise surprise, Till Lindemann was the songwriter.

As much as I fawn over Rammstein I can't say that I PERSONALLY connect to a lot of their themes, I just enjoy them.  In fact, the last song they wrote that I personally related to is "Haifisch" (irony) and that song has been out for years.  Anyway, Till released his amazing solo album this week, and one of the songs really touched me, and made me rethink what I've been feeling about myself lately.

Finally after all these years, I'm getting help for my PTSD (very expensive help) and let me tell you, I know why people put that shit off for years or forever.  Nothing makes you feel broken and battered like facing how broken and battered you are.  I mean, really staring into your own face and admitting, just a few years from thirty, that you are pretty much a decade or more behind developmental-wise, to other people.  And not only that, but you essentially have the coping skills of a skittish zebra in the wild: run, or give up and accept death at any moment.

That's why this song got to me.  Here are some of the lyrics:

I don't think there's a more cheesy and sweet romantic line than "your heart is a diamond" but that's echoed immediately by the less glamorous reality of diamonds--this heart is a diamond because it was crushed together by 'pressure'.  The lyrics acknowledge the darker side of the person that he loves, and then go on to say "I will wait and stay".

For some reason it just made me feel....well, valuable.  That you can have a pretty fucked up heart or mind or past or whatever, and still be someone worth something.  Not just worth something, but a diamond.

I don't really do the whole "turn your mental illness into something special" thing, that's ridiculous.  Imagine telling a person with diabetes to turn their illness into what makes them unique and beautiful.  That's about how dumb it sounds.  But this song doesn't really do that, it admits up front that there was a lot of suffering taking place for the beauty to occur.  And the person the lyrics speak of is called cold, and concealed.  I can relate to that as well.

The crazier thing is that I feel better now...even though I'm tearing down all of these walls and there are some ugly moments, and even more ugly moments to come, I finally feel like I'm more comfortable with a girl who is struggling to stay sane, and admits she's not, than all those years I spent hating myself and pretty much everybody else due to the trauma in my past.  I'd like to think it shows, as well.

I think I was ....19 in that older photo.  Here I am almost ten years later and I swear, maybe it's just me but I look younger.  There's something gone from my face (and not just the poor makeup skills.)  This isn't the first photo comparison where I look better after putting myself through the ringer and learning to love myself--I'll post another for another day.  I just think it's great that the way I treat myself on the inside sometimes finds its way to how I look on the outside.

Edit: I'm going to link up with Angie for this, since it's music-related!


Brit Floyd, Salt Lake City

I saw Brit Floyd, a really cool Pink Floyd tribute band, last year when they were in Salt Lake City.  It was an amazing and powerful show for me, because I associate the band so strongly with my mother.  I'm not sure if I've ever told this story, but about a week after she died I was chatting with a friend about Syd Barrett (she knew nothing of Pink Floyd and was curious about the lyrics) so at some point during my long-winded tangent of the band's history she interrupted with, "You're so smart...I have no idea how you know all this stuff."

And my response, "I know because my mother taught me," really kind of broke me down.  It was the catalyst that made me understand the extent of my personality and interests that she played a hand in, and it's something I had never thought about until she was gone, until it was too late.  So I began about a month-long grief episode of listening to every track I could find, and remembering her.  It was therapeutic and also probably really pathetic for a bystander, but grief is never fun.  Pink Floyd even plays a big part in the memorial painting I made for her.  So you can imagine what this concert means to me.

Those intense feelings aisde, this concert was just as great the second time around.  The band is spot-on and magnificent in their recreations.  Plus, hey, fog and lasers!  There's a real lack of photos--I was too busy actually enjoying the show to really dedicate time to snapping pictures, plus I didn't feel like learning how to work my new Galaxy camera.  But that's fine, because the experience was spectacular and not one I take lightly.  I took my two friends who weren't familiar with Floyd's music and they had a blast as well.

Wearing The Inside Out

I murmured a vow of silence and now
I don't even hear when I think aloud
Extinguished by light I turn on the night
Wear its darkness with an empty smile

I'm holding out
For the day
When all the clouds
Have blown away
I'm with you now
Can speak your name
Now we can hear
Ourselves again


Mad Max: Fury Road

Everybody is losing their minds over this movie and duh, when I saw it, it became obvious as to why.  There will be a spoiler or two here, you've been warned.  I just have to rave about one of the fantastic things about this movie that nobody seems to be commenting on.  I get it, because I think we notice what we're familiar with, but I wanted to share just why this movie affected me in a positive way.  (If you'd like to see a huge breakdown of all the other fantastic symbolism, read this wonderfully thorough piece!)

Max has PTSD.  The way his character acts, the things he said, all resonated strongly with me: everyone with PTSD acts differently of course, but I was able to relate to Max so much throughout the film.  It was pretty great because the day I saw this movie,  I had been sitting at home suffering myself, and a friend came over and coaxed me out of the house.  I thought it was going to be cars and guns, but wow, was I wrong.  And for a sufferer of PTSD, there were also two beautifully symbolic moments that are still touching to me several days later....here's my addition to why this is a hidden masterpiece of film.

So, the first bit of symbolism: Flashbacks

Even in the opening sequence of the movie, he is blatantly suffering from flashbacks.  He states in the narrative "Here they come again... worming their way into the black matter of my brain. I tell myself, they cannot touch me. They are long dead."  There's a vision of a child that seems to be attacking him, or trying to get his attention.  He reacts in your standard fight-or-flight way: terror, horror, striking out.  In one scene he's sleeping and wakes up with a raised fist...I've done that exact thing before, and even punched before I fully woke up.

Anyway, you get used to seeing Max be jumpy and on edge through the entire first hour of the movie.  The vision appears at really random times and he is always sweaty, nervous, and looking around in fright before he realizes there's no one there.  But then during the big epic finale battle, he's fighting off hordes of the War Boys et al, and at the same time as one charges at him with some projectile launcher, he has another flashback.  Max reacts to the flashback, not the current situation, shielding his face with his hand from the hallucination.  

Right at that moment, the War Boy shot a dart right at his face.  Instead of the dart going into his eye or brain, he actually blocked the fatal blow with his hand, and the dart embedded in his palm.  It's a pretty grisly scene where probably everyone else in the theatre went "Cool!"  or "Gross!" If you look at the symbolism there though, Max was the actualization of the entire purpose this debilitating condition; life preservation.

PTSD is all about the threat of death, the fear of your well-being.  We do what we do because we feel threatened, and not "am I going to get jipped on my whipped cream on my frappucino" threatened.  And it's hard, and we feel bad, and maladjusted, and like we're weird assholes, because we are reacting to a situation that 1) isn't even real or a threat to us anymore, and 2) we are very, very afraid.  To see his reaction actually save his life was a very subtle reminder of the reasoning behind our fear.  It was taking the perceived negative of PTSD and showing us that it is powerful, and can be positive.  I know that's a shitty thing to say to anyone with an illness, but it's true.

Second bit of symbolism: Max walking away

The movie has a happy ending, everybody's celebrating, water is running down the hills and the warlord is no more.  It's pretty inspirational and gratifying to see thousands of happy and grateful people all in celebration.  They're literally now in paradise, if only for a few minutes.

And then you see Max.

He nods a goodbye to Furiosa and departs into the crowd, quietly.  A lot of people are misinterpreting this, but again I found myself relating to it all too well.  PTSD makes you look over your shoulder, tells you to keep moving.  Tells you you're not safe, or that there's more work to be done, more distance to put between you and Hell.  I always envy the ease with which other people slip into comfort, even with normal day-to-day relationships and activities.  I don't really have that luxury a lot of the time.

So in other words, where others can stop and have a break, relax and say cheers, we're doing exactly like Max.  Looking for the exit, or hoping to find a "safer" place or person or time.  It was so wonderfully executed and just like the other symbolic nod to trauma and its effects on us, easy to miss, unless you're unlucky enough to be mad, like Max.