Tuesday, April 17, 2012

God is a Concept By Which We Measure Our Pain.

I procure much pleasure in unearthing my CD collection and uploading all the great music to iTunes. Found about another 100 CD's in my mom's attic today (the rest of my library must be in storage) and as is typical Annie, there were about 50 unmarked blank CD's that, when you pop them into your computer, aren't recognized by iTunes, and just list "Track 1, Track 2.." etc. I have to listen to, sometimes, 30 seconds of a song to recall the artist and song. Then you have to type in the title and artist manually, which takes forever, and upload them to the computer. The mixes I made back when I was still drinking are the most fun to rediscover. None of them have any continuity to them, and are randomly thrown together. The CD's I make for myself and for other people nowadays are, as a friend said, professionally handpicked. Sober and medicated, I can go through the (now) 2500 songs in my library and find 20 that say exactly what I want to say to someone pefectly, though it's getting more difficult as my electronic library gets more extensive.

There was the inexplicable CD that featured Count Basie, then Queen, then Pete Townshend, then Nina Simone, then Don Henley, then classical music my Shazam app on the phone didn't recognize. That, friends, is how you make CD's when you're drunk and not yet medicated for bipolar disorder. Not that they're not *good* mixes, but they're the ultimate exercise in head-scratching at the playlists.

I happened upon the above pictured CD today, that simply said, "God" and had the date of 10/30/08 on it. It took me a while to recollect the date, but it was the first time I broke up with Christopher. I left him after spying on his texts/emails/caller ID for 6 weeks prior, aware that he had been sexing and romancing it up online and on the phone with a 19-year old French college student here in the States. I was infuriated and hurt beyond belief. Chris, naturally, blamed the whole incident on me, citing that I was "acting" crazy and that he thought we were close to breaking up in the first place. Admittedly, I was acting emotionally erratically as of late, but I was in a rapid-cycle manic phase that wouldn't go away for weeks on end. It wasn't my fault. But we didn't know it at the time why I was behaving insanely.  I hadn't been diagnosed as bipolar yet and was not medicated, apart from anti-depressants that weren't doing the trick. And a rapid-cycle manic phase will just about drive not only the patient nuts, but anyone around him/her.

Anyway, together, they'd created this fantasy world in which they lived and habitated, their own version of paradise for them as a couple. He told her he wanted to make love to her, and was quoting song lyrics that reminded him of her and their precarious situation, most notably from "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, a song I loved but Chris sort of sucked the life out of for me. He claimed they were just friends, but I knew better than that.

She'd text and call him when I was over, so it wasn't like he was terribly good at hiding his growing fascination with a barely-legal girl, as a man in his 40's. The worst was when he and I were out to dinner one Saturday night, and he "stepped out to call his daughter to say goodnight," when he was also texting her, and she replied back, "You're texting me while you're out with HER?" and they joked about it. That was about the last bitch slap I was going to take from Chris from a metaphorical standpoint, and this was before he became physically abusive towards me.

So in the middle of the night, on either the 29th or 30th of October (at like 3am), I took all of my stuff after reading the texts on his phone, wrote him a Dear John letter on his computer, outing his behavior, and ran away, with Chris awaking in the middle of the night unable to find me. I didn't want to be found. I was in my apartment, which had no running water, and just crashed on my bed, not responding to his texts as to my whereabouts. I wanted him to worry, to hurt, to feel slighted, just as I was feeling. (I was already staying at my mom's house from time to time, with Luke, because our landlord had foreclosed and we were just waiting to be kicked out of Camp Swanky. My mom just remembers me coming home some time the next morning bawling my eyes out.) In hindsight, I should never have taken him back...

We would reunite about a week later, on election day when Obama won, incidentally, each of us agreeing that we would be an "exclusive couple," though we were free to keep our online friends. I don't know WHY I ever allowed that to happen. I should've said that the college kid had to go and that he had to cease contact with her if he wanted me to be his girlfriend. Stupid move on my part. But you live and learn.

He continued his cyber romance with her, buying her expensive gifts, still talking to her regularly, having cyber sex and phone sex with her until March of 2009, when I finally told him, at the end of our trip to Florida for my first-year sobriety anniversary, that I wanted my "exclusive" boyfriend to be exclusively mine. I had been dutifully faithful to Chris that whole time. I asked him to make a choice between the kid and I, and he chose me. I should be honored by this? It was purely, I think, because he had me physically here in Chicago and had unlimited access to honest-to-God booty. But he still had dozens of pictures of her on his computer, the most sickening being the one of her in pigtails, making a pouty baby face, holding a teddy bear with another young friend, donned in too much makeup. To me, it bordered on pedophilia, and I nearly vomited at the sight of it.

In retaliation for his dalliance with the college babe and once Chris told me he wanted to start seeing other people (but never did until a year ago) in April of 2009, I began my own long-distance relationship that turned romantic, with my best male friend, while keeping Chris close within my reach. That was when things with Chris really turned sour and I recall it was then when he started to become increasingly physically and sexually abusive towards me. He was already emotionally abusive and manipulative towards me as well as verbally abusive. That started long before my affair with my best guy pal. The abuse grew increasingly worse and more frequent until I walked away from him finally for the last time, last year, right around this time of year, when being his own "other woman" and his abuse to much to mentally and physically bear any longer.

When my friend came to Chicago, we, gasp, made out in person for the first time in the like 17 years we'd known each other but had been attracted to one another though we always belonged, technically to others, though we never, in our history, hooked up. What was supposed to be a summer romance of sorts became an elaborate long-distance love affair, and dummy me ended up choosing Chris over him and breaking up with him, though by this time he was deeply in love with me, and I with him, and he was writing songs about me, inviting me to travel with him, and had the insane idea of his own of moving me to the city in which he lived to be his kept mistress and looking for jobs for me on the internet. I didn't hide ANY of our affair from Chris, because payback's a bitch, and I was still wounded from the whole French kid thing, which I simply couldn't forgive. A lot of my friends don't blame me one bit. I mean, we were technically free to see other people, so what if I was?

My best male friend and I will always be a little bit in love with one another and there's a lot he can't let go of with regard to me being his "girlfriend," as his wife openly called me, and it was I she sent him running to across many state lines to virtually have me help him get into recovery when his own demons got the best of him. Chris naturally accused me of driving my best male friend to the edges of death because of our affair, which yes, I'm partly to blame for his behavior, but it wasn't like it was all my fault.

He and I continue to be very close, seeing one another a few times a year, and I've tried putting out the romantic fire out between us, but my friend is incapable of letting it go completely because largely, he's just a hopeless romantic artist. A lot of people tell us we look like we belong together when they observe us together, though like I've said in other blogs, it's a pragmatic clusterfuck.

Anyway, I made the CD, simply entitled "GOD" on the 30th of October, 2008. It was unusual, at the time, for me to actually write a date and a title on the CD, though I'm sure I had no capacity to print out a track listing. Putting it into my laptop today, I had no idea what was on it. I didn't know if it was songs to learn with my band, or John Lennon's "God," or what. I listened to snippets of it this afternoon and tried to piece together the sentiment behind the disc.

You'd think I'd be a lot more mad at God than the CD reflected. Instead of bitter songs renouncing my faith, like John Lennon's "God," it's loaded with odes to God, songs of comfort, including a live performance by my own band, a Flaming Lips tune that I love, lots of stuff that I'll get to later. Amid the fervency to the Lord, it's peppered with some bitter songs directed towards Chris. I was brokenhearted and seeking solace in my faith.

The track listing and hindsight reasons I chose them are thus, to the best of my recollection:

1) "Carry You," by Amy Grant. I dislike contemporary Christian music, though it's what I play in my band, but this seemed the Christian equivalent to The Band's "The Weight."

Lay down your burden I will carry you
I will carry you my child, my child
Lay down your burden I will carry you
I will carry you my child, my child

Cause I can walk on water...
Calm a restless sea
I've done a thousand things you've never done
And I'm really watching
While you struggle on your way
Call on my name, Ill come

I give vision to the blind
I can raise the dead
I've seen the darker side of hell
And I've returned
I've seen those sleepless nights
And Count every tear you cry
Some lessons hurt to learn

2) "Testify to Love" by Avalon. One of the only contemporary Christian songs I can stomach. I like it both musically and literally. Plus, it's fun to drum.

3) "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens. An obvious choice in praise music. I don't care if Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam, and broke away from the Christian church to become Muslim. There's hardly a compilation of faith music out there that I've seen that doesn't include this staple.

4) "Pompeii AM Gotteramerdung" by The Flaming Lips. Quite possibly my favorite Lips song to this day, even more so than "Do You Realize," and the only one featuring Steven on lead vocals. Just a song to make me happier. It's truly a beautiful tune and Steven's falsetto is just perfect.

5) "Like it or Not" by Genesis. I think, the best breakup song on the CD itself. Features such appropriate lyrics such as "Like it or not, you have done it this time, and like it or not, I've had enough...like it or not, you are out on the street, and like it or not, that's where you'll stay..."

6) "Praise to the Lord, the Almghty" who I attributed to God-knows-who. I don't know who sang it, but it's a new twist on an old hymn that I enjoyed.

7) "Was it Ever Really Mine" by Jon Troast. I hate it when we do this song in band. I'm not exactly why I'd choose it for this CD. It's about money and possessions in the material world that our old bassist sort of forced us into playing, and freeing yourself from them when you go to Heaven, an idea I *do* subscribe to. I never liked the song, to my sober and sane recollection, but perhaps it was a rebellion to get away from Chris' uber-materialistic life. Beats me.

‘Cause I don’t want to buy what I don’t need
And I don’t want to own what I can’t keep
And if I’m gonna have to leave it all behind
Was it ever really mine?
There are mansions waiting in the sky
Where the rivers run but never run dry
There are highways of gold, room for this soul
I don’t think Jesus would lie
What a cheesy lyric at the end of that verse!

8) "Like the Way I Do" by Melissa Etheridge. Sort of an obvious choice about being a spurned lover who's been replaced.

Is it so hard to satisfy your senses
You found out to love me you have to climb some fences
Scratching and crawling along the floor to touch you
And just when it feels right you say you found someone else to hold you
Does she like i do

Tell me does she love you like the way I love you
Does she stimulate you attract and captivate you
Tell me does she miss you existing just to kiss you
Like the way I do
Tell me does she want you infatuate and haunt you
She knows just how to shock you electrify and rock you
Does she inject you seduce you and affect you
Like the way I do

9) "Don't Cry Out Loud" by Melissa Manchester. I was on a Melissa roll, I guess. A song about hiding your emotions and holding your head high when you just want to DIE. Cheesy, but appropriate.

10) "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python. "When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble. Give a whistle! And this'll help things turn out for the best." You gotta throw some humor into a bad situation.

11) "Love on the Rocks," by Neil Diamond. A smooth one about the breakup situation.

Gave you my heart
Gave you my soul
You left me alone here
With nothing to hold
Yesterday's gone
Now all I want is a smile

First, they say they want you
How they really need you
Suddenly you find you're out there
Walking in the storm
When they know they have you
Then they really have you
Nothing you can do or say
You've got to leave, just get away
We all know the song

12) "He Gave me You" by Sierra. Was on one of Luke's lullaby CD's when he was a baby. About God blessing you with a child. I took shelter in my son during this period of time as well. It didn't matter what was complicating my personal life, I had Halloween to manage that year, and a costume (Luke went as a punker, I believe, with a green mohawk) to prepare, and candy to buy and well, life had to go on. Thank God I had Luke to help hold me together.

13) "Last Day of Our Acquaintance" by Sinead O'Connor. A sad, lowly song about a breakup. Perfect.

Today's the day
Our friendship has been stale
And we will meet later to finalize the details
Two years ago the seed was planted
And since then you have taken me for granted
But this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know your answer already
But this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know your answer already

14) "In Christ Alone," a live performance by my own band at St. Paul. Craptastic live recording but good message nonetheless. A song I drummed dead ass drunk at the church picnic in 2007, buzzed by the 10:45 service and drunk by the time our band performed an hour-long set after lunch. (I hid all that drinking from my bandmates and church friends, carrying around a giant sports bottle full of wine) One of my favorite band songs to sing because of the message.

"No guilt in life, no fear in death

This is the power of Christ in me

From life's first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
Till He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I'll stand."

15) "As" by Stevie Wonder. A love song from God to us. Again, seeking solace via my religion. Of any love that was assured, it was that of God, unfailingly. Probably in my Top 20 songs of all time. It's amazing.

16) "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" by Sting, Not necessarily a Christian song, but affirms our unity with The Divine.

You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but

If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do...

17) "Whenever God Shines His Light" by Van Morrison and Cliff Richards. Come on, Queen Elizabeth gave Cliff Richards a knighthood and not George Harrison? WTF? Anyway, it's a groovy gospel tune for the modern age.

Whenever God shines his light on me
Opens up my eyes so I can see
When I look up in the darkest night
I know everything's going to be alright
In deep confusion, in great despair
When I reach out for him he is there
When I am lonely as I can be
I know that God shines his light on me

Reach out for him, he'll be there
With him your troubles you can share
If you live the life you love
You get the blessing from above
He heals the sick and heals the lame
Says you can do it too in Jesus name

He'll lift you up and turn you around
And put your feet back on higher ground

Reach out for him, he'll be there
With him your troubles you can share
You can use his higher power
In every day and any hour
He heals the sick and heals the lame
Says you can do it too in Jesus name

He'll lift you up and turn you around

I don't think I got angry at God until I started getting physically ill from the stress and anxiety of being with Chris, and the way he was behaving towards me. A mix to God a year ago would've been far more hostile towards my Savior, but I never made a mix like that. Wounds are healing, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is evening out, and I've moved on, thankfully, mentally. The physical ramifications are still there and refuse to go away, and my doctors don't know what to do about that. The psychological damage that ramified into physical torture for me reminds me of Chris every time I land in the hospital.

Cleaning out the attic and house for our church's yard sale this weekend, to benefit Luke's work camp this summer, my mom unearthed some of Chris' belongings that he parted with, that he wanted me to sell on eBay for him. I wanted all of his stuff out of the house, finally, and to benefit Luke's camp, I'm more than happy to donate the items.

"God is a concept by which we measure our pain." --John Lennon
True, to a certain extent, and false to a certain extent. I must have been comforted enough to put those songs on a CD, which brought up lots of hurt when I played it and imported some of the songs onto my iTunes.

Lennon is quoted at the end of this video, about how he felt about death and dying, and his fearlessness of death. Sort of like "In Christ Alone," though the song "God" was from 1970's "Plastic Ono Band" album and the spoken quote from Lennon was from a decade later.

God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I'll say it again
God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain

I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
And that's reality

The dream is over
What can I say?
The dream is over
I was the Dreamweaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
And so dear friends
You'll just have to carry on
The dream is over

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