From Broadway Zombie to Princess
Or, how Andrew McMahon saved my life
The topic for last week was the Ouroboros. More specifically, it was the difference between Western and Eastern philosophies. Here in the West, we tend to frown upon things being revisited. We make our decision, and move forward. We grow up, leave things behind, and move forward.
I must’ve been young when I started listening, because I deleted Cavanaugh Park from my iTunes for its explicit language and never heard it again until late last year. My memories are woven with songs. The memories are vivid, reading the flooding scene from The Silver Chair and listening to Saves The Day’s At Your Funeral as a seven-year-old in the back of my brother’s white 1994 Ford Taurus SHO with a tag that read “SHOfun”.
Leaving Best Buy with a friend in the floorboard and my sister in the passenger’s seat as I Want To Save You blared; sitting in Barnes and Noble as the floorboard friend sang “bright red, bright red” as a jest at my acne to the tune of Dark Blue; lounging in the sun at the beginning of high school, knowing that I was the type of woman you sung about: the devastated woman from Me and the Moon, the woman seeking safety through company in Konstantine, the Punk Rock Princess.
I’ve always worked in cycles. It’s the source of most of my guilt. When I lose it again, I hate myself. When I fail next time, the hatred builds. Each time I reach out to a human who has rejected me, I let myself drown in the rejection again. For some reason, an ideal has been instilled in me that I’m supposed to get everything right the first time. No second chances, no do-overs, move forward.
But that’s not real life.
Life isn’t concrete. Humans aren’t either/or. The people who hurt me as a child, are different now. The girl who drank wine in her closet at 14, doesn’t drink when she’s sad anymore. Even when faulting, there’s a spectrum. The people I think are shitty may be shitty, but that doesn’t mean they have the ability or desire to hurt me the way others have, or even the way those same people used to. I’m circling back around.
Someone being shitty to me, doesn’t make them shitty. A part of them is shitty. And sometimes, the shitty part of me (scared, defensive, drunk) interacted with the shitty part of other humans. Sometimes, the needy part of me interacted with the shitty part of other humans and I got hurt. But lately, more often than not, the good part of me interacts with the good parts of other people. I’ve cycled through and through the humans in my life until the only ones left were more good than bad. We all have our weaknesses, our shortcomings, but that doesn’t make us bad.
When I was young, listening to Andrew and his struggles, I knew this was another human who knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and was going to keep pushing to find it. My sister used to tell me that I couldn’t still like the same man after all these years. But there is a part of me that is still found in each of his songs. I remember each cycle of myself through his music. It’s a way for me to appreciate the journey.
When my PTSD killed my last relationship, I realized that I didn’t want to be okay anymore with looking at this journey in a linear phase. I didn’t want to be okay with never getting second chances and do-overs. My life is a learning process. Ghost was my first real boyfriend, and when I scared him off, I was devastated. I vowed not to let it happen again. I got medicated, I buckled down on myself. I used the things I had learned about myself from him to move through the stages again. Ghost taught me that when I was freaking out, a funny TV show could work wonders and wouldn’t ruin the following day, like alcohol. He taught me that soccer could make my mind be quiet.
When Mentos came along, I threw it all out the window again. I was young, idealistic and hoped utopia was found in the soul of a frail man. What I found instead were two people broken in complimenting ways. My defensiveness triggers his and we cycle around, Ouroboros. My fear of irrational behavior leads me to demand things be clean, and his fear of people who demand him to clean takes over. We were perfectly in sync, which is probably why we made it so long, but we had no forgiveness, and little compassion; and that’s not real life.
In real life, we’re fluid. All the parts of you aren’t always going to blend with all the parts of me. All the parts of me don’t have to be consistent, or coherent. I can love that you can identify plants from a picture, and hate the way you treat women. I can love the dance parties in your apartment, and hate your lack of self-confidence. I can acknowledge that you’re a bit of a shit human, and not physically act against you when you invade my space. Afterall, eventually, you’ll cycle back through. Maybe you’ll cycle back through and someone will offer you a new perspective that changes everything, like I got today.
Today, I get to go see Andrew do what he loves, and be happy with his life. I get to watch him cycle back through the stages of himself. I get to cycle back through all the versions of me. Keep cycling through, taking out the bad pieces, putting good out into the world. Revisit all your hurts, revisit all your loves, each time your sight will be different. Eventually, the bad parts of you and the bad parts of someone else won’t result in an explosion. Eventually, you’ll be walking through the grocery store with a smile on your face and you’ll know that everything is alright. Just keep your head above, swim.