Saturday, March 12, 2011

Perfect F***ing Lives

First, I'll get a little whining out of the way. Brace yourself.

My family of origin was pretty messed up, like a lot of families. I don't think either of my parents ever wanted to get married or have kids, but they did because that's what people did back then. My dad wanted boys and got three girls, and he didn't do a very good job of hiding his disappointment. Mom was depressed and popped pills, so I was neglected and fled the house looking for nurturing. I got something else instead.

The 'rents divorced when I was nine, and Mom dragged two of us girls to New Mexico, leaving my bipolar, violent, alcoholic sister with Dad. I slogged through adolescence and young adulthood until I was 25, when both of my parents died in separate incidents 36 days apart. The next 15 years or so I basically adopted many of Mom's lesser habits and coping mechanisms, accompanied by health issues, frequent unemployment, and even a bout of homelessness.

It took a long time, but I am really happy now. I have a job I love, I am healthier than I have been in a long time, and I've made peace with most of my past.

I always thought a bad upbringing was pretty par for the course - everyone had a bad childhood, right? Everyone has baggage and trauma and all that.

But there is this one certain family that keeps popping into my head and filling me with resentment because they are so...damned...normal. Life is perfect for these people!

The head of this family makes six figures in the same job he's worked for 20 years. They live in an idyllic town in a huge house. They had several children, boys and girls, none of whom have any illnesses or special needs. To my knowledge they've experienced no untimely deaths. No one in this family has addiction issues or health problems or even bad habits. They're all thin and beautiful and when they want to take vacations or buy cars or whatever, they just do it. All the kids grew up and dated and got married and had beautiful, normal, healthy, perfect kids. Just like that.

Where is the freaking trauma in this family? It's not fair. I love these people and I don't wish bad things for them. But it seems so unbalanced.

This sounds embarrassingly whiny even as I'm writing it, even in my own head. How lucky I am that I was born in America, that I was born caucasian, that I can see and hear and walk...someone out there might be cursing MY name over how unfairly fortunate I am.

I'm just venting.

Am I a better person than the members of this family will ever be because I had to develop strength early on in my life? Who knows. I just know that I don't regret or curse who I am today, so I suppose being grateful for the crap that fertilized it is the best way to go.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"I Am A Lonely Soul..."

Meant to post this yesterday. I wrote it almost four years ago.

April 25, 2007

"I Am A Lonely Soul..."

It's old news by now, but Brad Delp, lead singer of the classic rock band Boston, was found dead in his home on Friday, March 9, 2007. Brad was probably the most underrated vocalist in rock history. He brought class, discipline, and perfection to a world often blasted as messy and irresponsible.

Despite his accomplishments and full life, Brad committed suicide. In his note, he wrote (in French), "I am a lonely soul."

I keep wondering how someone with a wedding in the offing to a loving fiancee, two children, and many adoring fans, could say he was lonely. I know that is a very simplistic way to are not close friends, and you never know what's going on in someone's mind and heart.

Once, in college, I planned to commit suicide. I started writing my goodbye letters. After a couple hours, somewhere around letter number 17, I realized with a little chuckle that if I had at least 17 people in my life who would care that I had died, and who I knew would be sad and want an explanation from me, then what the hell was I killing myself for?

Of course, my suicidal ideation was borne of teen agnst and self-pity, not a serious mental illness. I guess that's why I lucked out and Brad did not.

Of all the gifts God gave to us, music is the one I treasure most. He could have just given us all angel choirs to lift our souls, but he decided instead to open the world of music to any taste, any mood, any imaginable instrument, any rhythm, and any volume. The deepest parts of my heart and soul are moved as much by songs like "Dust in the Wind" and "Highway to Hell" as they are by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

One of the songs I always loved most, however, was "Don't Look Back" by Boston. On top of the usual amazing guitar work, precision drums, and Brad's gorgeous vocal harmonies, the lyrics shined:

I can see, it took so long just to realize
I'm much too strong not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down...
I'll turn it around.

This song helps me celebrate my arrival out from the darkness of my past. Today when I hear it, I am heartbroken that the peace Brad sang about in these words, was lost to him for reasons I will never understand.

But I know that the joy of the music and the beauty of the voice who gave it to me will transcend the pain, and grief, and stand forever as a monument to Brad, and to the Creator who endowed us all with a gift to share with the world, whatever that gift may be.

Rest in peace, and thank you, Brad.