“James Rhodes: music and healing” is a post where I’m going to explain how his book Instrumental is a great example of personal growth and healing. It also shows how music and creativity are very effective tools to heal all types of trauma. He describes along the book his experience from the very beginning of being broken to nowadays. It shows an absolutely objetive trip where the soul, the being or the ‘persona’ is slowly going blinder to try to erase the trauma event, until it touches rock bottom, undergoes the dark night of the soul process to finally see some light. In his case in particular he could see the light through music, when he listened a particular piece in the hospital and then felt he had to play the piano. This is for him a complete and direct liberation of his trauma through every fingering.
Then, I’ll compare what he explains he felt in his experience to what I felt in mine. If music is for both of us a liberation tool, I can also state his book has been it too, because it has made me realize what I was feeling wasn’t abnormal, and even if I couldn’t make me understood, or couldn’t explain how painful was everything surrounding me, his words made me accept I wasn’t the problem and guilt disappeared. I believe it has been the same with many of you in similar situations. That’s why I recommend you read his book. If you have undergone or are under any trauma recovery process, or even know anyone in that situation and you want to help; this is the book for you.
INSTRUMENTAL – A memoir of madness, medication and music
“If we fetishise trauma as incommunicable then survivors are trapped – unable to feel truly known...You don’t honour someone by telling them, “I can never imagine what you’ve been through”. Instead, listen to their story and try to imagine being in it, no matter how hard or uncomfortable that feels”.
This is Phil Klay’s testimony, US Marine Corps veteran, and with it, James Rhodes opens his book Intrumental. He has entitled the book “A memoir of madness, medication and music”, but for me, his history has more to do with positivity given that after the hell he had to live in, he has also struggled and achieved great things. In February he played here in Madrid, at Circo Price, and I was one of the privileged people who were able to see him performing and it was an immense pleasure to see him playing. And I just reckon this for several reasons.
Firstly because it was the first time I have ever seen a live piano concert. Secondly, the way he explains the “story” behind the music is amazing as he just places yourself in the situation, so that you feel closer to the story and you feel it differently than what you ever thought about classical music before, and “Bazinga!!” you suddenly realize that the great composers were humans too and they FELT the same as us, with all the “greyscale” of feelings that I have never believed as theirs.
The third reason was that I had already watched his interview in LaSexta TV with Jordi Évole, and I was shocked and surprised at the same time, because it helped me to understand a lot of stuff that was going on in my head. Moreover, the fact that it was encouraging to feel the self-improvement in a person who underwent so many difficult and horrible things in his life. This helps to encourage anybody. Well… at least it should.
When I went to the concert I hadn’t read the book yet, but my friend Pu gave it to me as a present that same day and luckily enough for me that he was signing books after the concert so off I went to have it signed. Then I ate the book in two days, and although some issues are already dealt in the book, others are only said in the interview… and watching him speaking and listening to his natural speech, so calm and brave while he’s talking about all the abuses he suffered and everything he had to undergo after it due to it… it’s simply something so moving that touches your soul and invites you to abandon the well you’re in and starting to solve your problems at once. I strongly recommend everybody to both read the book and watch the interview. JUST DO IT.
Break the silence. Taboo issues. Talk. Tell. Tell the truth. Escape. Hide. Feel fear. Paralysis. Pain. Understand. Accept. Admit. Listen to. Blame. Shame. Rape. Abuse. Suicide. Music. Psychiatric. No self-steem. These are some of the key words he uses to materialise what his life was like in paper pages. His fears to speak out because of his teacher’s threats to silence the fact that he was raping and abusing him at school. His fears about anyone knowing what was happening to him because he was feeling shame. Trying to hide it. Hiding it to himself for years to pretend in some way that everything was in its right place and nothing as monstrous as that had even happened. Mechanisms and automatisms from the mind to reject something so horrible.
If you watch the interview on La Sexta with Jordi Evole and listen to the other one on Radio3 you realise that what these horrible non-human do is breaking somebody into pieces by tearing their soul and removing the inherent human quality they own. You suddenly stop being who and what you were before. You are NOTHING now. NEVER AGAIN. Never again. As he states so many times, you never happen to be the same person. And this is why it is so important to pay attention and to listen to the victim’s stories and never ever judge that what they are telling us is an exaggeration, by classifying their feelings, physical reactions or thoughts as something out of place or even incomprehensible, because they ARE indeed feeling all that.
So if it seems hard to some of you, or uncomfortable and you prefer to go on living in wonderland looking away, that’s perfect for you, but it does seem to me absolutely disrespectful because you are depriving somebody the right to be brave and speak their truth out (given that it is so, sooo difficult to do it because you are the one to be blamed according to your own ideas) and being listened to and not criticised for doing it.
I know this may be really difficult to understand, but empathy does exist for some reason although it is more than demonstrated that some “beings” with mental diseases lack of it, and moreover it looks more like a pandemic disease nowadays – yeah, the lack of empathy – but I’m going to go on living and believing in people’s humanity and in the fact that, if we want, we can just try to listen to and understand, thus helping and preventing more and more people from suffering. The only problem we can face is that normally our brains are designed to always choose the simplest and easiest way to suffer as less stress as possible, so we tend to automatically look away from disgusting and painful situations.
There may be others who can call this “being victimized” and will say that enough is enough when talking about those painful issues that are unworthy, and that the past is already a “past tense” and gone, so it has zero sense to speak about it. The taboo topic. The unmentionable. “Do not say it. Don’t pronounce it. Not even think about it. Noooo. Do not let it come to your head. He does not deserve any of your thoughts”. And I agree there’s no need of being obsessive nor being the whole day repeating yourself how miserable he is and consequently, so are you, but what shouldn’t be done – from my perspective – is pretending everything is alright and nothing bad goes on and given that you seem to be in one piece outside why not pretending to be as whole inside.
DAMN LIE. He also explains about feeling victimised in the book when you get to a point
“that it is a self-built hell you can’t escape from”, and “It is the main cause of the attitude of believing entitled to anything, of the laziness and depression where we are at. It is an art itself, an identity, a lifestyle which brings you an infinite and endless ability to suffer”.
He also recognises the fact that it is a trap you can’t easily abandon due to the fact there exist this constant war between your mind, your heart and your body. The thoughts in your head fight to allow you stop being the victim and becoming the survivor, so the body sends signs that you can no longer hide because your heart is constantly telling you they are there. He precisely states that being able to break with this victim role is decisive to start healing and recovering from the abuse. To start being and feeling a human again. A human survivor.
The voices inside
The problem is that achieving that is fucking difficult. Super difficult. Herculean. He speaks about the voices inside his head, the nights without sleeping, the physical disorders triggered by the memories in his mind, the multiple personalities he has, about having to stay in a psychiatric hospital after trying, with no effect, to hide in drugs, alcohol, an ordinary job, an ordinary life, covering, covering and covering with new stuff and hiding in normality without result because finally everything exploded when his son was born and he assumed that he was going to suffer the same painful experiences he had undergone, and he couldn’t bear the blame of having placed his most beloved person under such circumstances:
“… depression hates emptiness… The easiest in this life is just breaking up and running away. From everything, not only from relationships. This way you comfortably avoid assuming the responsibility of anything, learning lessons which are essential for specific moments; you also empower your blame and guarantees, at least in my case, that the same events will be repeated again with another person”.
And if you don’t fix it, you crumble again and completely break down. When everything collapses, OCTS and PTSD appear, the voices again, the rage, anger, hate, fear, threat and hyper-vigilance. Insomnia. Continuous nightmares… and these are just some things of everything he had to go through, and some of them still live with him today. And the voices are so annoying. They are so hard on you, and they take the power and they tell you things you already know, or not, but deeply inside, you end up believing. It’s similar to somebody telling you that you are useless although you know that you are pretty good at some things, but in the end you accept that you are nothing. It is something like this, more or less:
“Your value is zero. You are shit. Nobody is going to believe you. No matter what, nobody is going to listen to you because nobody cares. Because it’s easier to hide what we don’t like and not speak about it. Yes, words have that power. As when being pronounced they become real. But NO! It’s better I shut up. But what for? Hide it. Hide everything because you’re disgusting. Repulsive. No. No!! Get out! Noooooo!! It’s my fault. It’s natural that this has happened to me. Of course. I deserved it. I haven’t done everything in my power to make it work, to be respected. You have never ever respected yourself. How is anybody going to do it for you? Fuck. I’m fucked. I’m horrible. Ok, enough. Stop. How are you going to be loved or liked by anyone? I want to sleep. You are ridiculously useless. You can’t even sleep. You’re pathetic. What a pity. Leave it. Don’t be like this. It’s not your fault. Yes it is. Get some sleep. Fucking nightmares. I don’t want to sleep. So why do you come to bed? Do something profitable instead. Oh surprise! You can’t do anything worthy. Leave me alone. Shit, I just want to sleep in peace, is that much asking for? Fucking shit, I’m counting sheep: one two three four five 6 7 8 9 10 11…. what do I have to do for tomorrow? I believe the lesson is ok like that. Oh shit, I forgot about something. It was strange you were doing something good. There you go again. Weren’t you counting to fall asleep? It’s useless because I always got lost in the count and never fall asleep. I don’t even know how I got here. Why don’t you focus? Try sleeping. Breathe and relax please. Relax! As if it was easy! María please, stop thinking! Breath in, breath out. Breathe in, breathe out, breath …. Wow, what a windy night! The roof is going to fly away….” And this going on for hours…it’s fucking exhausting.
But despite the voices and the everlasting war in his head, the tics and the OCTs and everything else, and together with the absolute and unconditional love for his son – as he states
“the only love which I have guaranteed feeling”
because he doesn’t even love himself that much – he got to find that source of light and hope in music. In classical music.
When you see him talking with such passion about the composers and the stories contained in those pieces you’ll understand what I’m talking about. And what’s more, it is contagious and makes me want to learn more and more about it, and not only that, it places me closer to a field that was a high demanding topic to my current knowledge and level – LOL. But I like it so much that now that he released his new book teaching how to play Bach’s number 1 Prelude in 6 weeks, you know what? I’m going to accept the challenge and start practising to see if I can get it 😀 I’ll let you know all about it.
My liberation by understanding: “It’s normal what I’m going through”
He’s been really brave telling us his story and I admire him so much. Although if he disagrees by saying:
“I don’t see myself brave at all”.
I think he is and I just feel admiration. Moreover, I have his autograph and it means a lot and it is the first autograph I have ever had. And those believing that it’s insignificant because it has no value let me clarify that I prefer it before any football player as CR for instance, who are mean and selfish and they have forgotten where they come from and have lost their ability to be humble. Anyway, it’s my turn now. I love James Rhodes. I love him being as generous as telling us his story from his point of view and from inside his head, to make us understand and realise we are not ‘weirdos’ and that these kind of things running through your head are normal after living some shitty stuff. And damn… it is liberating. Seriously. Believe me. Overwhelmingly liberating.
I don’t care if you don’t believe me, or if you say I shouldn’t speak about this, that it’s not worthy, that enough is enough… but this is what life is like, and this is what inhabits and lives within me, and as in the end this is not going to be read by so many, at least it works for me to be able to do what I always liked doing, writing and talking to myself and releasing everything out as if it was a catharsis of letters. Lol I love it! Instead of “brainstorming” I have just invented “wordstorming” (maybe it exists and I don’t know it).
Storm as the one I had in the nightmare tonight, and the one yesterday, and the day before yesterday. And before-before yesterday hahaha! And I don’t know what would be the correct term to go on with a countdown from today until the 25th of September 2015.
Yes, I have nightmares. Every night. I mean, EVERY-SINGLE-NIGHT. Since the 25th of September 2015. There hasn’t been a sleep without nightmares. Well, when I went to Iceland on holiday I finally got to dream in present and at least they weren’t about the same shit that was tormenting my mind. Two weeks of amazing peace. The nightmares are like this: I cry desperately – I escape – I run – I’m scared – terrified – people laugh at me – I want to scream but I can’t – I kill people – people want to kill me – stabbing – back stabbing – blood – beating – storms –tsunamis – earthquakes – running away from them looking for shelter – car accidents – driving an uncontrolled car – my ex laughing at my face – she (his other-new girlfriend) laughing at me – running away from places – exhaustion – flying away from places – I have super powers and I spit fire through my mouth and I kill thousands of people who are vain and cruel with other people – I am kidnapped – my brother is kidnapped and we are little – I want to save him so we run and run and run and we escape – I cut the son of a bitch kidnapper in two halves with an axe blow – my cousin is killed – I run after the guy who killed her to finish him – but I stay still and can’t move at all – I want to run but I can’t – I want to defend myself but I’m weak – I beat them as caressing them – I feel useless – stupid – I’m lost in places – I search for things – I look for things – I find nothing – deserted cities – I’m on my own – the kidnapper comes again – for god’s sake please run brother ruuun!!! – horror of being caught again – fear – falling down cliffs – I wake up exhausted. Although when reading them they don’t seem so horrible. I feel stupid now. Thank you voices.
I like James Rhodes because I deeply understand and respect him, and acknowledge what he has gone through. I will never be able to feel what he physically felt because I wasn’t treated with that physical brutality, but what’s sad is the fact that in this life there are several types of abuse, and psychological one, although inflicted unconsciously (I can’t prove neither it being conscious nor unconscious) it leaves you as wrecked and sunk as the game “Battleship”.
The only difference is that in one single movement they sink all your “boats” and the basement of what you believed your life was up to that moment. “Did you believe this was happiness? You were wrong, nothing of what you believed exists. I’m going to fuck you over. F – 7. You’re finished”. Fucking bastard. Sorry. Rage appeared again. Come on, breath in – breath out.
Liberation through music. The peaceful state he finds in it
Ok, let’s go. I both love him because he explains perfectly how his mind works and worked in the past and because he mentions something that for me is like one of those universal truths that we simply slip over: Music saved his life. It is medicine for the soul.This is very powerful and beautiful.
It is the place where he finds peace and absolutely nothing can go in.
“Nothing can touch me here”.
This is so sad… So while he plays he moves into a different dimension, as if he was leaving a disociation (this is a concept he both explains in the book and the interview on laSexta TV as the moment his conscience is able to abandon his body and move through walls, doors and fly away because while he is being abused, the feeling is so horrible, painful and inconceivable that the mind tries to escape it the only way it could.
He then goes on saying in the interview that classical music has been like medication, that listening to the stories behind every piece is really nice although they are also very painful. He always finds something to admire behind pain. In another interview on Radio3, he states that music can be used to rebuild things up. He believes that when you have an emotional imbalance, feeling anything can be dangerous, so they prescribe you medication to prevent you from feeling or at least trying to calm them down, and pills work because they prevent you from feeling anything, but, the thing is that music, from his point of view, goes much deeper. It goes beneath the feeling, the pain and the suffering to move through them breaking them and that way releasing you… Beautiful…
And I don’t know exactly how to explain this, or if it’s going to be difficult to understand but, when I went to the concert to see him performing, what I saw or perceived, was like music or playing it was liberating him but at the same time he was moved by something bigger and darker than himself, something he couldn’t get rid of. What I saw was more or less like this drawing I made:
And it was beautiful. Let me explain myself and the drawing. The lightning in the room was really dark on purpose. He only had a light over him and the piano and when he stood up to tell us about anything from the following piece of music, the light moved with him. So when he started playing and you surrendered yourself to the musical notes and you weren’t paying attention at all to his hands or his fingers, you were just concentrated on the human being performing as a total free being. So it started appearing this kind of halo of white light, as if somebody bigger than him was moving him from above. They both were synchronised in movements and it was beautiful.
But what was more curious about all was the fact that above that clear light halo there was another darker, bigger and creepy shadow again, also following the other two in movements, and it was like this darkness wasn’t separating from him, as if he couldn’t get rid of the darkness surrounding his life, and I remembered when he explained in the interview that there are some things that will never be over or forgot, and those who say that time heals everything are completely wrong because
“there are some wounds which never disappear, you simply have to learn living with them”. Shit. (this is mine). He goes on: “Thirty years later I’m still in the same place, lying still against the floor, hurt and painful with the impression that everything was my fault. Only for writing some words related to it. The inherent power of this shit to fuck you with a mere smirky smile is terrifying”.
How is he not going to have some darkness surrounding him? He can say he got to struggle a lot to be where he is and he is still struggling, but he goes on everyday. So what I saw in the concert was something like that. A human being with a light halo of kindness immediately surrounding him and the other layer of shadowy pain and darkness which was more separated from his physical figure but not leaving neither separating from him.
There was another feeling shared with some friends who also watch the performance and we commented it after it. When you looked closer, when you pay a very close attention to him, you were able to notice some of those tics he states he can’t help even when he’s playing. That was the moment you could really see the human expiating his torment, pain and rage, all those represed feelings escaping through every fingering. For me, that was as his atonement process, the final liberation of that hard and heavy burden he was carrying from his past.
In the book he explains about Ravel that he was
“somebody who sweated blood over his music and had each note dragged out of him, painfully, slowly and methodically“.
and I believe that what he achieves when he plays is something very similar. A full and complete liberation. He explains it himself:
“All I can see in my field of vision is a black and white keyboard with eighty-eight keys and, preferably, the gold letters that spell out ‘Stenway’.
And thank fuck for that. Because after walking on trembling, I sit on the stool and something takes over. I disappear in a good way. Without flying out of my body, without searing pain in my ass, without tears and blood and cocncrete boots. It is the best thing ever, like having a four-handed, naked, hot stone Bach massage. Everything goes by in a flash and, at the same time, the world seems to slow right down and all of my anxieties about time disappear. There is infinite space in between the notes, total awe at the sound my fingers are producing (not the quality, simply the fact that I am somehow doing this), a sense of coming home.”
Music as a means of expression and salvation
Do you realize how much can it be expressed and felt without even saying a word? How much can it be revealed through music? Just simply through the vibration of sound waves? This flips me out. And it is because something similar happens to me. There are some songs I don’t know how to explain, some artists or some voices, that touch me more than others. But I’m not talking about a sense of likeness. I’m talking about the fact that a certain song can move me in a way that everything else than myself suddenly stops and I feel something like a chill and then I know that that song wants to tell me something. Sometimes it’s the first time I listen to it but others I’m used to listening to it but that precise feeling makes it different.
That’s why I love what he says about music, because I understand it completely. I remember music being present in my life since I was little because our mum used to wake us up playing records in the record player and nowadays I can’t live without it and the very first thing I do every morning when I wake up is turning on the radio. I know I could live without it if I needed it, but I also know my life wouldbe much emptier. It speaks, suggests, whispers to me, and it teaches sooooo many things. I swear there have been many many times I’ve thought that those songs had not only been written for me but also been listened to in the precise moment to answer my inner questions.
It’s then, when I listen to them, I feel the chill, something different in my heart tells me to stop doing what I’m doing, to set all my senses in that piece of music, and then everything stops existing except myself, the music, and those words giving messages to my heart and soul. It would be something similar to being possesed by something. There’s a main difference between usually listening to music for hours, while you are doing housework or reading for instance; and listening to a song that is speaking to me. When my soul is focused in “that” song, my whole body and mind are ONLY in that place and my attention is directed ONLY to that song. And this brings me a lot of peace of mind at least while the song lasts.
I have never been able, til now, to be focused in a single thing at a time. With these “special” songs my attention is completely centered on them and nothing else. I know everybody’s brains are different and some lucky ones have a mind which respects them and connects and reacts only when it’s required, and that, from my point of view, it’s the most similar thing to be in peace that I know.
Speaking from my experience, it’s true that having a mind which can work or be active in several things at a time can be very practical and productive, or funny also, but it can be a curse too. If it grows powerful and you don’t train it to receive your orders properly, it will gain control over you and your thoughts will become true for you. What’s more, your mind and your thoughts can work together to destroy you and you couldn’t be able to stop it from attacking you. And that, it’s very very difficult to change.
This last year, I have tried everything to try to gain control over it again. My thoughts and memories were continually tormenting myself. They were impossible to stop when I was on my own. I’ve tried yoga, meditation, and filling my hours with nonsense to do just to make my mind stop my thoughts. As James Rhodes states in his book, what you do is loading yourself with things to stop thinking and look away to not remembering. And for me works exactly like that. In stillness, in silence, if you let it, it wakes up, and it becomes more and more powerful, and arises like a horrible monster, kind of Sauron’s Eye-like in Lord of the Rings.
And you, untrained, humble and helpless, try to suppress the monster but it doesn’t obey. It is now a being on its own, it’s free and independent from you and your heart. It thinks, lives and tells you lies to destroy you while you are awake. When you are sleeping it does more or less the same through your dreams that are nightmares every night and while you are trying to fall asleep it’s unbearable to keep it quiet. To be honest it’s a shit. Big one. The only way of being positive in cases like this, it’s to believe there’s always a solution for everything. It’s just that we need to look for the most appropriate one to fit for you.
“And although I tried everything I could to distract my attention from that hurt, I could not outrun it. While forgiveness and meditation, reading and writing, talking and sharing all help, creativity is, for me, one of the most profound ways through trauma.”
And I totally agree with him, creativity frees you. I believe it’s the closest to your soul speaking out from within, telling us what it really feels. I remember the day I saw a colouring mandala book next to my desk in the teachers room, and suddenly in a flash I remembered how much I used to enjoy colouring when I was little. Later at home I was colouring my first mandala and I have to say it was awesome. It was the first time in my life (that I could remember) that I was able to be focused just on that activity. ONLY in colouring and thinking about waht colour to choose for every shape.
Those of you who have never felt this can’t imagine how much peace and calm and rest that it gives you. For me was relieving. And now, when I start drawing it has the same effect, I can completely detach myself from the outside world and just BE. It’s like I can only exist in that drawing and nowhere else. And that’s great.
I don’t know if this is strange for you or not, but my mind never stops. I mean that even now that I’m writing, even under the ideas and words which are coming up to be written, there’s a layer of “noise” made by thoughts and my mind is active on that too. Even when I’m reading there are times I have to go back and read again because I start thinking while I’m reading. While reading, or cooking, cleaning, washing the dishes, driving, sleeping… EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. I don’t know what real silence is because my mind is always speaking to me, and it’s annoying when you realize that there’s something that can be done to quiet it, but you can’t.
That’s also the reason why I created this blog, to write myself to me, to tell me about myself, to speak to me and to make myself aware about what still worries me or not. To materialize the messages I have to give to myself. Speaking properly, I’m changing “have to” for “should”. I know I need to read myself and analyze everything within myself to remove every single thorn of darkness in my body and my soul. As he says in the book:
“The whole cosmic, self-help mantra of being given what you need when you need it, of needing to hit rock bottom, having to go through things rather than around them is, sadly, true. At least for me.”
And I share his view. Absolutely. To be honest, I didn’t before this hard year.I was living my life through rose tinted glasses then. But now I am completely convinced that it works that way and what’s more, I strongly believe it needs to be done exactly like that if you really want to heal. Looking back, after days, weeks and months living together with pain and suffering which seemed… No well, it didn’t seem, IT WAS unbearable and heartbreaking to stand it even a single second more. Now that I feel a little better, that I worked so hard to heal, I see the whole process as something necessary. Something inevitable and rewarding. You get to the understanding that everything happens for a reason, and otherwise, I would be still believing that such dreadful feelings were impossible to have.
But there’s a bright side of it, when you finally start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, is when you realize that even if experimenting the whole process has been so so so fucking painful and hard, once you are out of the darkness you feel stronger and wiser. Stronger because you have got over a lot of pain, and wiser because you know a lot more about topics and ideas related to feelings, pain, suffering, healing, psychology and most importantly, about yourself. And that’s priceless.
The consequences of trauma: the acceptance.
James Rhodes can say music has saved his life. And I can say reading him has saved mine. At least he has indefinetely helped me to understand everything that was happening to me and all the feelings and thoughts created because of it. When there’s nothing written or explained about shitty matters (mental health in this case) you are lost in the middle of the ocean. There’s nobody you can talk to to guide you and be your beacon. You have to try to be yourself the lighthouse. To survive the process and understand what is happening to you. What’s more, to fully understand that if nobody could understand you, it wasn’t your fault.
These are some of the consequences of my process. There was a time I believed I deserved all of them. Kind of having applied somewhere to receive them. Thank fuck his book landed in my hands, and with its help, and therapy, and a lot of hard hard work, I finally realized and accepted that everything was ok for what I was going through. Suddenly a heavy burden disappears from your back and you start seeing the lighthouse far away in the horizon. These were some of my convictions:
Blame. I felt blame, that it was my fault. Because you deeply BELIEVE there had to be something you did wrong to be treated that way.
Shame, because my ex laughed at my face for months. He did it when he lied to me for months, fucked others for months, and pretended he was happy and still loving me for months. And what’s worse, all my family and his family and all his and my friends know what he did to me so your shame multiplies for every person you know they know I am shameful. It is so embarrassing you don’t want to see anybody because you feel their juddgement in their eyes when they look at you. The same you had seen in his eyes (my ex’s) the last time you see each other. That face, those eyes, that mouth showing disgust. Showing how embarrassing you were. You BELIEVE you indeed deserve being judged because it’s the person you loved more than your life who is doing it.
The one who told you he loved you forever. The one you believed was being honest and believed he really loved you. So the series of thoughts go like this. He was the one (you believed) who loved you the most. You loved him the most too. He betrays you in the most disgusting and nauseating way. If the person who loves you the most can make something so horrible to you is probably because you deserve it. So, if the one who loves you the most can make it, so consequently, anyone will. So you trust nobody and you feel completely super-alone.
Fear. You are scared of finding him anywhere and scared of being unable of controlling neither your physical nor your psychological feelings and you don’t know how you are going to react. Sometimes I will smack his face, others… I’ll look him in the eyes and leave saying nothing… Plus the nausea, disgust, fear and rage I couldn’t bear to feel.
Repugnance. Disgust. About yourself. About your own body. Your face, your hair and your skin. You feel dirty and shameful because he kissed you and hugged you and caressed you and was inside you after being with two or three or who cares how many there were. For months. Without using sexual protection. What a fucking disgusting feeling.
Nausea. Physical nausea. In your guts and stomach. It comes up through your throat. Every time you see a scene with sexual content in a film (even short scene) or any pop-up window with porn in it when you want to watch online any film or listen to anything. Because you remember yourself as an object. The same object you see in those images. You are not a body. NOBODY. You are an object or recipient to be used and ab-used. It’s disgusting. REPULSIVE and SICKENING.
Revulsion. When you now see any picture of him from the past, or new one with whoever he is now, and you don’t even recognize him as the person you loved or lived with.
Lack of apetite. Lack of anything needed to survive. Because even breathing is painful, and hard, and simply thinking about chewing anything is much more exhausting.
No self-steem. At all. Because you feel like the most insignificant piece of shit. Not even that. Less than that. You don’t even exist. You are worthless. Everything in your life is. Everything he said about loving you forever, anything he promised, that you were the only one, that you were his person, there was nobody like you, he had never felt the same before, all his exes were crazy and with you everything was different… and so on. None of that matters anymore because those words have become as empty and worthless as yourself. If they are lies, they don’t exist, and if they don’t exist you don’t either. And you don’t because you are nothing. “Oh yes, I perfectly know what I’ve done to you, but you know, this happens to everybody, and anybody is free of doing it”. Excuse me?!!!! Anyway…
Having suicidal thoughts. This is very “interesting” (at least for me and in my case) because these thoughts didn’t appear out of a desire of not living anymore, it’s because the pain you feel in your heart, and your soul, in your skin and bones is unbearable. And you don’t feel yourself capable of living without that torment. You can’t stop feeling what you feel. And I need to stop and insist here. It’s not that you stop to think and count each and every lie and stab you received. YOU DON’T want to remember anything! No lies, no pain, no bullshit.
But all that dark cloud of crap becomes alive and appears when feels like appearing, and what’s worse, you can’t get rid of it. You can be checking exams, doing the laundry or the dishes or having a shower, and suddenly a feeling which can go from disgust, to rage, to shame to profound sadness… and then tears came to your eyes and you can’t control them so you simply want to free yourself from all of it.
In the book he explains it like this:
“There are not seven stages of grief. Not in my experience. Why does everything have to be boiled down into bite-sized, manageable, undesrtandable chunks? Are we that fucking stupid and incapable of living without definitives or corners or edges? There was just one long stage of hell. It would switch in an instant from absoulte anger to inconsolable sadness to despair, hopelessness, an unfillable emptiness.”
And I agree with him. Because in a way when you try to hide the hell is when it becomes more powerful. Like in a way it is fed with your own fear. But if you face it, you accept that all that pain, the fear and the disgust belongs to you, it is a part of you, then you recognize parts of yourself in that pain so the negative starts to fade away. And it does because you perfectly know that is and forever will be there. When facing the negative you accept its existence, and by doing it, fear starts dissipating, you accept it as a part of yourself in that moment and THAT makes it easier to carry with you.
James Rhodes: music and healing.
His positivity after trauma
I love James Rhodes’ book. I love it. Have I already said it? I love it. And I do it because if you leave all the pain and suffering aside, he also gives you experience treasures as gifts. They are his positive proof to make us think and realize that life is much simplier than it may seem, and with effort and persistence, we can achieve whatever it could be our passion. This invitations are made from his heart, and as he states in the book:
“How awful to have a passion so intense it dictates your every breath and yet to lack the moral backbone to pursue it”.
He also talks about education and the critical mistake we are permorming when removing Music as a subject from all syllabus. And he is completely right. He rightly states we are killing creativity out from schools on one side. On the other, with the stressed rhythm we are living in everyday we barely have time to see ourselves and we suffocate our own creativity because that is what is supposed to do. He, instead, empowers us to stop a little and listen more to our hearts and passions. There are lots of positive and encouraging in the book, and almost any interview you can listen to or watch from him.
For example, the healing, the acceptance, his stolen humanity which was finally restored after a lot of hard work on himself, and lots of relapses too. Falling and rising again. Again and again and many times. That’s what we should do to go on living with life’s flow. Touching rock bottom and rising again. He also deals with the topic of social accepted drugs against th. e ones which are not. Both means of covering up our shitty reality to be able to go on living anyway. The same as hiding everything with sex and anything related to sex, porn and its use for that intention too. Escaping to avoid facing the life you are living.
To contrast with something positive he gives his idea about love now that he has got over a lot of problems:
“My whole concept of love was skewed. Love for me was attention, sympathy, point-scoring, based on external opinions and external, material things. It was not about shared values and shared beliefs. It was naive, dysfunctional, unhealthy and selfish. It was a child’s love fo a parent, not a man’s for his wife”.
He also gives us his view on happiness, which, from my perspective, we should closely follow:
“It is so simple that it seems to have eluded many people. The trick is to do whatever you want to do that makes you happy, as long as you’re not hurting those around you. Not to do what you think you should be doing. Nor what you think other people believe you should be doing. But simply to act in a way that brings you inmense joy”.
Easy, isn’t it? For me, this is directly related to the feeling of self-fulfillment you get when you do whatever you where born for for the first time. Everything changes. It’s like a “Click”. You slowly start feeling yourself whole, happy and fulfilled.
He speaks about flowing in life. About the fact that if you are able to relax and let yourself flow with and in life, it’s possible to enjoy much more what is going on in the present moment. This way, acting correctly,
“right things will happen at the right moment“
Forgiveness. After all the pain and suffering present in his life, he explains how important forgiveness is. But not necessarily towards those who inflict the pain on us. He declares in fact, that even today after so many years, he neither has forgiven his teacher nor he believes that’s going to happen. The most important forgiveness you need to receive is your own. And he has forgiven himself for the blame he had carried on his back for years. It wasn’t his, but he had put it on himself when he accepted as given that he was to blame for what it happened to him.
His personal view on human relationships is also reflected in many lines. He relates them with the rising materialistic consumerism we are living in where relationships and people can be bought or sold as products In AliExpress. (The AliExpress thing is mine).
But the best of all, and what makes me know that he is a very good person, is that despite all his suffering, despite facing evil in person in his teacher, living a hell in the Earth, going through all types of miserable situations, he, in the end, firmly believes in the KINDNESS of the peoples, and he invites and encourages us to be kind. Not weak, kind.
He encourages us in so many different ways… We need to leave taboos behing and be able to speak out about all the topics that are difficult to deal with. Those to create awareness and thus help people who are going through any type of abuse, mental health issues or any type of problem. They need to be encouraged to go on, to speak out, to make them see they don’t have to be embarrassed. This is the only possible way to make their voices be listented.
So let’s be kind and try to make this world a better place. I’m going to try despite of having gone through a very bad experience myself. Or maybe just because of that. I can’t change the pain I suffered or that is going to come, but what I can change is my way of reacting to it. I can’t become something I’m not. I can’t act doing what was done to me to others because that’s not me. I’m not negating the fact that I had reached moments of profound rage and huge hate. But the mere fact of having that feeling was making me feel bad about myself, because I’m not like that. I’m not saying we have to be silly, weak or naive, and let some take advantage on us. I’m just saying we need to be kind and let evil for those who don’t know how to do it differently, weren’t taught how to do it… or maybe they don’t want to.
Let’s be kind and don’t become them.
I love James Rhodes. I admire him. Thanks for existing and bringing light in our lives.
His book: “James Rhodes: Instrumental. A memoir of madness, medication and music”
James Rhodes’ official website
TED talk on music and the inner self at Madrid
“Who is James Rhodes?” His interview on LaSexta TV