Music is the greatest reminder of what my life used to be like before I got sober. Last night, I went to see Phosphorescent play at Lincoln Hall. As soon as Matthew Houck began to sing, I was swiftly transported back to a second floor apartment in downtown Austin, where I began my rapid descent into alcoholism. I remember sitting on my patio; headphones in, listening to songs of desperation while clinging to the hope of some short-lived romance and the comfort of my Lone Star beer and Parliament Light cigarette. Night after night, I sat on that patio and knew that I was doing something wrong. I also knew in my heart of hearts that something had to change or I was going to be miserable forever. Because after the beer and smokes ran out, I was left alone with my music and that was a sad and miserable place to be. And the beer and smokes always ran out, but the music was always there.
I remember the nights that I would clutch my pen and journal, trying to write something legible, but not being able to because I was drunk. I love how writers always think they do their best writing when they’re drunk. One of these days I’ll do the great dig through my belongings for those journals and I’m sure I’ll have a pretty good laugh at what I’m sure I thought was great work. I’ll definitely at least get a good laugh out of what I’m certain will be pretty illegible handwriting.
Tonight, I don’t have to do any of those things that used to help dull the pain of music. Maybe the music has always hurt so much because it’s where I’ve always gone searching for God. But I didn’t know that until recently. Maybe that’s why the sad songs are always so good. Because they bring me to that place where I need to go searching for something more. And God is always there. Especially in the saddest people and in the saddest songs.
I had a conversation last night with someone that reminded me of what I used to be like. Thrashing my way through existence, trying to find a meaning that made sense, or a place to belong. As soon as I found any sort of semblance of comfort, I’d kick and scream my way out of that place, because nothing felt as good as lack. Well, maybe other things felt better than lack, but nothing felt more comfortable. Tonight I feel complete. I know that I am where I’m supposed to be. That I’m growing into something more than I ever dreamed I’d be. And I like it. It’s hard to admit that, but it’s true. I like who I am.
It’s weird how so much about a person can change and then so much stays the same. I think I’ve always been this eager, ever loving, hopeful thing who just wants to be filled up with love and music all the time. I am still staying up too late listening to sad songs, but I’m no longer clutching a Lone Star Beer or a cigarette. Instead, I’m clutching my gratitude filled heart and saying Thanks. Because I’m so very grateful that fearful little girl I used to be found her way through all that fear to the place where the Grace filled woman I am today stands. Music just does a really good job of reminding me that Grace was always there inside of me. It was there in every sad song I found myself singing along to. Music gave me a place to belong. And it still does today. Grace was always there, in the longing and the belonging. If it hadn’t been, I never would have survived.