Angry Days (or How Eminem Saved My Life)

I have taken a couple of days to think about how I feel now that the first post has been published, put ‘out there’.  I couldn’t sleep once I’d seen that someone had read what I had to say.  I was kind of excited.  I thought, hey, I could do something useful here.  I could create my own little platform.  I could speak, share, unburden, purge.  I could also piece together the resources that have helped me and find some more for the road ahead.  The next day I panicked, felt exposed and vulnerable.  What had I done? Eventually I reached somewhere in the middle.  I can try this, see how I feel. See if anyone reads it.  If it speaks to anyone.  If you have ever been treated this way, or battled with your mental health or substance abuse, you know that you have to be willing to try many things until you find the way to get you back to your best.

There is no one quick fix (oh, if only…) so I spend a lot of time searching. Searching for things to read, listen to, research.  What do I hope to find?  Some kind of understanding.  Something to get me through the day.  Keep me in fighting mode.  What works for me changes all the time.  I don’t know what pushes it this way or that. Some days I need to express my anger.  My boiling rage.  It’s still there, not that far beneath the surface.  I visited New Zealand once.  Looking at the boiling mud pools and geysers, I saw a real life example of the way I feel on many days.  The way many people must feel.  After being assaulted, manipulated, tormented.  After having their will exploited.  The boiling, bubbling pools of mud threaten to explode at any second.  You can feel the heat.  You have to step lightly and wisely.  The Earth’s crust is thinnest in that region of the world.  More delicate.  Also more prone to disaster.

On the days it feels like this inside me, I can’t will the anger away and to be honest I don’t want to.  I need to feel it.  I sometimes feel a really primal urge to seek and destroy.  Exact revenge.  Pretty simply, hurt those that hurt me.  I still have those feelings but it helps to feel it through someone else’s medium (which also keeps me out of jail).  The words of others remind me that I am not alone in feeling such grief.  Reassurance that people before me have grappled with these same violent and more difficult emotions.  On these days I listen to certain music which sits right there.  It is the expression of hurt, desperation.  It is raw anger.  And if you want raw, you dial Courtney Love.  It feels like a fusion takes place…understanding.  I am not alone.  And that makes me stronger.

The best music also expresses the staunchness of character which I need when I am feeling overwhelmed.  The battler in everyone that says, you will not beat me.  I will prevail.  On these days I need to hear this message as fighting words, not affirmations or positive sayings.  I need to recognise my anger, give it space.  Because it is normal to feel these kinds of emotions after being violated. And on these days ‘it will get better’ is bollocks!  I am ever-hopeful that the right thing will happen eventually if you keep at it but I know it’s not always true.  If only justice prevailed I wouldn’t be in this position – and neither would so many others.  This realisation can prevent people from wanting to fight for the truth to come out but if you don’t fight, you don’t have the chance to win.

There are two artists who provided my ‘fight music’ – Eminem and Courtney Love (with her band, Hole).

Photos my own from the Melbourne concert

Now I am quite aware that Eminem may seem an uncomfortable (or maybe hypocritical) choice for someone in my situation.  I have heard early albums which do make me uncomfortable when he makes light of rape.  This is true.  I do not admire that particular voice.  But amongst other genres, I like rap.  I like language. I like word play.  I like humour.  Where I felt the connection with his music was the frustration, the powerlessness, the outpouring of impotent anger.  The music Eminem has made since coming out the other side of drug addiction is very different from before.  The anger is there but the determination to be faster, better, stronger is deafening.  As a compulsive over-analyser, I am finding myself wanting to dissect thoughts on rap culture and the power of words. This blog, today, is not the place for that.  What matters is this: Eminem’s songs got me out of the car at work every morning when I still had to face that bastard who had raped me.  At night I wanted to die.  In the morning I put on my fight music and I made it through every day.  Like a soldier.  And Marshall was my support, inspiration and coach all in one.  His music got me to the Police station every time, to the County Court and through my testimony.  

After the criminal proceedings I didn’t realise that there would be so much more of a fight to handle.  But without fail, Eminem kicks my arse over the line.  Seeing him live last year was my own personal pilgrimage (ok, short drive on the freeway) to Mecca.  But being there was a celebration.  Of how far I’d come and the role he’d unknowingly played in helping me get there.  In my mind, I wanted to run up on stage and thank him for keeping me swinging during the hardest days of my life.  I still wish I could.  Tonight, like a message in a bottle, I’m sending my gratitude into cyberspace.

Your ‘fight music’ may not be by Eminem but if you need some, you will find it.  And I hope it makes you a soldier, too.

I’m a soldier 
These shoulders hold up so much
They won’t budge
I’ll never fall or fold up
I’m a soldier
Even if my collar bones crush or crumble
I will never slip or stumble
 
‘Soldier’ 
Eminem 

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