I want to live in the glow

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I wanna go to place were I can hold the intangible
And let go of the pain with all my might*

Abuse, depression, depression caused by abuse take many things away from you. Most people take reading and listening to music for granted. I stopped reading almost entirely during my marriage because my ex-husband verbally beat into my head that I was not supposed to do anything when he was home but pay attention to him. And cook and clean. If I picked up a book while he was home, I got the cold shoulder or a lecture. I was supposed to watch him play video games at night. Seriously. It was all right if I sewed and all right if I sketched, but books were a no-no. I suppose that books were too attention-consuming and God forbid, I might read something that conflicted with his views on life or politics. Once I wanted to read a biography of Frida Kahlo and he told me she had affairs with women and demanded to know why I wanted to read such a thing. I told him I just knew that she was a very popular artist and of course I wouldn’t read a book like that.

I had to play dumb.

I hardly read anything for four years. In the summer of 2008 I glanced through a volume of The Southern Vampire Mysteries. I read just enough that I was drawn into the story and I had to read more. I started going to the Borders bookstore in Riverhead and buying a paperback a week. I took a break from the nonstop housework during the day and sat on the deck and read. I realized that if Charlaine Harris could write in that candid style, so could I. One night I sat down with my laptop instead of sewing or a sketchbook and I started writing. Immediately my ex-husband asked if I had started keeping a diary. I said no, I am writing a book.

Now I don’t have a husband but I do have four finished novels and I’m debating if I want to self-publish or go the traditional route.

Even after I left him, reading was difficult. I kept buying books and not reading them because I felt a reluctance, almost a dread. It was as if he had stolen the joy of reading from me. I finally bought a couple of magazine subscriptions and started with articles. I moved up to poetry. Then I found that I could re-read the classics, and short stories in my college edition of the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women.

It took me years before I could read a new book from cover to cover, reading every day.

Before I met him, I always had music playing. Music in the car, music from my CD player, then music from my iPod clipped to my waistband while I did housework. He didn’t like my music. He said only lesbians listened to Stevie Nicks. He hated the Pet Shop Boys. He said that HIM was the most technically unskilled band he had ever heard.

I left the fool. I moved in with a roommate who liked much of the same music I did. But every time a song came on that she didn’t like, she would complain until I hit fast forward and found one of “her” songs.

I couldn’t listen to Concrete Blonde. I couldn’t listen to The White Stripes. I couldn’t listen to Gillian Welch. It made me crazy and I started not putting music on at all.

That situation obviously wasn’t working out and then my mother started having health problems and needed me at home so I went home.

And for years I still struggled to read and listen to music. Because I was waiting for a tantrum or a tirade.

Yet I kept buying books and music.

I bought a lot of DVDs and then started buying the books the DVDs were based on and then the soundtracks to the DVDs.

Now I can read again. Now I can listen to my beloved Stevie Nicks again. I bought her 24 Karat Gold DVD. I bought opera (which my ex-husband did not allow me to listen to in his prescence). I bought the movie The Secret Life of Bees, then the book, then the soundtrack and the score. I just bought “Beautiful” by India.Arie.

The time is right
I’m gonna pack my bags
And take that journey down the road
Cause over the mountain I see the bright sun shinning
And I want to live inside the glow
Yeah

I wanna go to place where I am nothing and everything
That exists between here and nowhere
I wanna got to a place where time has no consequence oh yeah
The sky opens to my prayers

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful . . . .

I can hear the music again. I can read the books my friends recommend.

I have so many, many unread books. I could read for the rest of the year without buying another book.

Every time my ex-husband yelled at me, I went on iTunes and bought another song. I have so much music, and my mom loves it. Even the things that aren’t normally her taste. She said that the same thing happened to her when she was married to my father. He took her music away in that he made it impossible for her to enjoy it. They’ve been divorced for over 30 years. She just started playing the piano again a year or so ago.

Abuse leads to depression which leads to loss of motivation and lack of enjoyment of the things you used to love.

If you’re in an abusive relationship or you’ve left one and you still don’t feel like yourself, like you can’t enjoy anything, give it time. Re-read an old book. A short book. Buy something new by your favorite musician. Buy a magazine.

Don’t stop trying to get back to yourself. You will, eventually.

*India.Arie

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2 thoughts on “I want to live in the glow

  1. and i'll get along all right

    Thank you for writing this. I didn’t know it wasn’t just me who this happened to…my ex got angry and verbally abused me when I tried to read one page of my favorite book, and he never let me listen to music of my choice. His explicit music was always blasting from the radio, and when I asked if I could just listen to one song, he said my favorite James Taylor music was stupid and he couldn’t stand it–making me feel selfish for putting him through the “pain” of having to endure it. Instead, he forced me to watch him play computer games, hours of children’s anime shows, or worse, extremely offensive, racist rant videos on YouTube. Now, I appreciate those little things that most people don’t–getting to choose what to read and listen to, if I can wear makeup, when to go to sleep– I’m relieved I’m not the only one.

    • You’re welcome. I felt dumb writing this but now I’m glad I did. Yes, I got the “you’re abusing me by making me listen to/watch this.” While he played Grand Theft Auto and virtually robbed, carjacked, and ran over women. Everything had to revolve around fighting or violence or the music had to be heavy metal. No classical music, no literature, and I wrote a post a couple of days ago about the wardrobe and makeup. I’m glad you’re out of that situation.

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