My therapy journey, recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I write for welldoing.org , for Planet Mindful magazine, and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org.
I rediscovered this song recently and have been playing it over and over. I loved it as a teenager but never owned it; and so when it disappeared from the obscurity of number 40 in the UK charts to even greater obscurity, I sort of lost track of it (pun intended), though it still occasionally entered my mind. Someone on Facebook recently shared another Alison Moyet song and it suddenly occurred to me that this is the 21st century and there is such a thing as YouTube and I could finally listen to it again.
So much of this still strikes a chord and though I can’t remember how I felt when I first heard it, I can imagine now, why it must have struck such a chord then. Often when I share songs or poems I try and say something about why they are important to me and why they resonate at this particular time. On this occasion, however, I think I’d rather leave that to the imagination; I also don’t want to say anything that might get in the way of your own interpretation. Someone on YouTube described the song as ‘hauntingly beautiful’, and I would agree, particularly with regard to these lines: “Later as day descends, I’ll shout from my window to anyone listening, I’m losing….Who will shelter me – it’s cold in here, cover me…”
Just as children love to hear the same stories being read to them repeatedly, or like to watch the same films over and over again, I have always listened to music by having a ‘track of the moment’ which I play constantly until its time passes, and then I move onto a different song. The time for which I play a track may be a week, a month, or several months, but while it lasts, I put my ipod on repeat, and the same piece plays over and over and becomes the backdrop to all my thoughts.
My husband, needless to say, is not a fan of this approach, and I have put him off many a track for life by playing it repeatedly in the car. In order to avoid this, I put Sia’s album ‘1000 Forms of Fear’ on in the car the other day, and we listened to it all the way to the end. This tends to be the way I discover new tracks, and on this occasion, I’m so glad I did.
I’m posting a link to this song for three reasons, the first of which is that, quite simply, I love it and wanted to share it. It’s the last track of the album and it’s called ‘Dressed in black’, and has now taken over from Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ as being my ‘play on repeat’ song. I have had a keen interest in Sia since my posts ‘Intensity‘ and ‘Inner child and past child‘ which were triggered by ‘Chandelier’ and the video for it. Sia has a diagnosis of Bipolar II and it’s all too easy to relate to many of the lyrics of her songs, and the intimations of depression, suicidal ideation, desperation, self-harm and darkness, that can sometimes be found in them.
Secondly, it reminds me of my therapist. Having said that, particularly during a therapy break, almost everything reminds me of my therapist as she is almost constantly on my mind. And love songs in particular, remind me of my therapist. Not the traditional romantic type of love songs, but the ‘dark and twisty’ ones generally involving brokenness and salvation. The verses I’ve picked out in the image below, are particularly poignant for me.
Finally, whether you see them more literally in the context of a romantic relationship, or metaphorically in the context of a therapeutic relationship in which one is held and touched in very different but still very intimate ways – this song contains three of the most beautiful lines I think I have ever heard sung. “You took my hand in yours; you started breaking down my walls; and you covered my heart in kisses.”
Many thanks and also apologies to those who clicked on the link in my previous ‘Piano-playing selfie‘ post and couldn’t get the video to work. Having struggled to get the hang of uploading into Youtube, I think I’ve cracked it and hopefully this should now work for everyone!
The previous link was to an upload of the video into a Facebook page – that was a last-ditch attempt to get something to work, having utterly failed to upload video into WordPress. The clue should have been in the phrase ‘You can upload videos and embed them directly on your blog with the premium plan‘ – which I don’t have. Common sense and observational skills were never my strong point.
I feel as though I must have been living under a rock not to have come across this song until now – which was released in the UK in June 2014 and is still in the UK Official Singles chart. What I find just as unbelievable is that I had also, therefore, never come across the official video for the song – which has been viewed more than half a BILLION times on Youtube.
I watched the video for Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ for the first time a few days ago, and I was bowled over. It completely blew my mind. It felt haunting, disturbing, desperately sad. The words, the music and the dance came together to create a powerfully moving experience. But it wasn’t just an experience about a girl in a song, or a girl on a screen. How can you explain it when you know that what you’re feeling is profound and significant but you don’t understand how? That the song may not be directly about you, but your experience of it and response to it could reveal so much?
I watched it again and again and again, absolutely hooked, feeling completely taken over by the experience. My emotions were building, and pushing against my chest wall to get out. But it wasn’t until I read a beautiful and revealing blog post on the subject of trust, that all of a sudden a switch was flipped, and a torrent of emotions started to swirl around and flow out. The song and the visuals had tapped into something – but the written words connected to it, magnified it, and set it free.
Looking back, it all feels somewhat unreal, and I’m still unsure of its meaning. All I know is that as I sat there with tears pouring down my face, in the middle of an emotional storm, confused about what my emotions were – I also felt grateful for the intensity. Grateful that I felt as though I could hardly contain the waterfall of emotion that wanted to pour out. Grateful that I felt full – however much fullness felt like hurting and despair.
At times like those, I wish that I could instantly transport myself to therapy, where it would be safe to fully experience those emotions, and to explore their meaning. I can’t help feeling that had I been able to do so, something significant, something ultimately healing, might have taken place. Instead, I tried to contain the tears as best I could, conscious that my husband was in the other room and could come in at any moment. And now, I don’t feel I have easy access to that place again. I can think about my response; I can try to understand it. But the emotion is no longer accessible to me.
When I write about songs that have had an impact on me, I sometimes quote lines from those songs. In this case, I want to quote quite substantially, because for me, so much of the power of the dance is in the way that is combines not just with the music, but with the words. It sounds obvious – but I often find myself listening to music without really hearing the words, and in this case, the words are vital. How many of us can relate to trying to numb the pain, to pushing it down? To that desperate sense of holding on for dear life? And how many of us feel so very young when we experience those things? As young as the twelve-year old child in this dance?
With apologies to Sia for a slight re-ordering of verses….
“Party girls don’t get hurt Can’t feel anything, when will I learn I push it down, push it down
I’m the one “for a good time call” Phone’s blowin’ up, they’re ringin’ my doorbell I feel the love, feel the love
Sun is up, I’m a mess Gotta get out now, gotta run from this Here comes the shame, here comes the shame
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist Like it doesn’t exist I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight On for tonight….”
A couple of months ago I was talking to my therapist about how difficult I was finding the fact that I regularly ‘split her’ into all-good or all-bad. My view of her was constantly changing – one week things were going well and I would adore her, and the next something would happen and I would be full of disappointment and anger towards her. This was a big contrast to my relationship with my ex-therapist, who I idealised and thought of as the ‘perfect therapist’ for the few months that we were in short-term work together.
My therapist made the comment that I was finding it difficult to accept her imperfections and ‘her edges’. This made me smile, as it immediately reminded me of the song ‘All of me’ by John Legend, which I have been listening to a great deal lately.
“Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections”
My therapist is right. I find it very difficult to accept ‘the edges’ of those I care about, whether that be my husband, my friends, or my therapist. I expect them to be all ’rounded’ when I (metaphorically) bump up against them. I expect them not to hurt me. I avoid confrontation and I can’t deal with arguments. I expect a ‘perfect’ response to my own imperfect behaviour. I don’t allow them to be human. And when their edges wound me, it can take me a long time to recover, and to start to see their softer curves again. And the tragedy is that I’m simply visiting on them, what was visited on me – I’m not allowing them to be themselves, edges and all. I’m doing to them, what I hated being done to me.
I still have a great deal of work to do in relation to how I see my husband’s ‘egdes’. But over the last few months, I have come to see my therapist’s ‘edges’ differently. I have come to love them, because they keep her real. As long as I’m conscious of her edges I’m less likely to idealise her or to become completely enmeshed with her. I have come to love them because they leave space for growth, in my relationship with her and with others.
Because of her edges, “even when I lose I’m winning.” Because of her edges, “I’m risking it all, though it’s hard.” Because of her edges, I know that she accepts mine. And because of that acceptance, I know that I really can trust her with “all of me“.
“The song [Bonfire Heart] is about no matter who you are no matter where you’re from, it’s about the human condition which is we need to connect with people.” James Blunt
So often, the need for connection feels like an overwhelming and distressing burden to bear. For me, this song lightens the load. At the heart of BPD (and of us all) is a need to be loved. How incredibly complicated the absence or presence of that love can make our lives. For me, the joy of this song is that for just over three minutes, it makes the need for love and connection feel incredibly simple, and uplifting.
“People like us, we don’t need that much; just some one that starts – starts the spark in our bonfire hearts…..”
[This post is dedicated to two beautiful borderline blogger friends of mine, who have found love and connection over the last few months. This song reminds me of you – you know who you are].