Tag Archives: emotions

There Has Always Been Music

Music has been one of the most important sources of joy and creativity in my life. My dad was a lost soul, an alcoholic, a person who saw darkness in every corner, but in music… in music, my dad created light. My father’s only moments of carelessness and weightlessness came while fishing and while playing the guitar.

Music has always been there for him and for me when other pleasant things were lacking.

My dad named me Melody because he was a musician, and he was a hell of a musician at that. My dad could look at a stringed instrument and give it a few strums, all of a sudden an expert. He played the acoustic guitar by ear, tuned it by ear, and taught himself completely. He played the mandolin, and I remember loving to hear “Amy” from those 12 strings.

As he got older, the singing became quieter, more ragged, and hoarse, but it was the most beautiful sound to me. It was real. It was raw. His voice and his music were the essence of his beautiful soul troubled by a life of restlessness and toil.

Music was always there for us.

I remember the many times that he played “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” on his guitar to entertain me, and I remember a LOT of the Eagles. “Witchy Woman” might not be a piece of appropriate music in the repertoire of any regular young girl, but it was in my collection of songs to which I knew all the words. My dad was always real with me. He was always honest.

He was honest when he told me that he’d been out drinking or fighting or selling things he ought not to be selling. He was always honest when he told me about our family’s history or why I couldn’t come to live with him. He was most honest when he played music for me. His guitar reminded him of his drinking days. He’d buy a guitar and sell it a few years later, haunted by the memories the chords evoked for him.

My dad bought me a guitar and let me decorate it with paint markers and stickers, a cheap little $50 Rogue that didn’t stay tuned all that well. He’d tune it for me and watch me learn, correcting my fingers. Once I knew a few chords, I played repetitive country songs while he’d ad lib over it and accompany me. I was never wrong to him, and my notes were never sour. He loved my voice. He was the best teacher.

We didn’t always know how to talk about serious things, my dad and I. Sometimes, you just stay quiet and play. That was our way. As long as the music was still there, we were still tight, no matter the circumstances. We could be angry, he could be disappointed, and we could still make music.

At his graveside, I sang for him. I was so hurt, so insulted, that he’d relapse into alcoholism. I was even more hurt and guilty that he’d killed someone and himself while drinking and driving. Everything was so hopeless and negative during that time. I did the best I could to keep sane and function like a normal person. I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say. I didn’t know how to put things like these into words, so I sang.

I sang because I knew that he was finally free from his torture. I sang for him, not for the people attending. I sang because we have always sang. I make music when I don’t know how to do anything else.

My life has never been simple or normal or without discord, but my life has always had music. For me, music has always been the anchor keeping me steady in an unforgiving sea.

When all else has failed, there has always been music. There will always be music. Thank you, dad, for the music. Thank you for my sanity.

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Burgers, Regret, and Weight Loss

This post isn’t the kind of post you think you’re going to read. It’s not about over-eating or binging and feeling guilty. This post is about a relationship between a father and daughter and how it has impacted my weight loss journey.

There is some back-story to this post in a previous blog I wrote. Long story short, my dad killed a mother of twin girls and himself while drinking and driving. A lot of complicated events led up to this relapse of his and most of it isn’t my business to tell, but the main idea I want to convey is that he was so very troubled. He struggled.

Today, I read an interesting post from Humans of New York. (If you haven’t liked them on Facebook, then you are missing out on the most beautiful and sincere pieces of humanity in the world. It’s a lovely project. Check them out here: HONY) A man who was photographed for this project said to the photographer, “No matter how much we tried to help my brother, he wouldn’t quit. We tried being there for him. Then we tried to throw money at the problem. We tried to set him up with rehab, doctors, psychologists, even a job. Then eventually we just sort of threw up our hands and stopped associating with him, thinking that the alienation might shock him into changing. I hadn’t spoken to him for two years when he killed himself.” Many of the comments on this post were supportive. Anyone who hasn’t known an addict or been in a personal relationship with an addict can’t understand the helplessness one feels when they are no longer of use. They have expended all of their time and energy into helping and have only been met by rejection and disappointment. I thought to myself, “If I were photographed in New York and he asked me what my biggest regret was, what is it that I would say?”

When I got the news that my dad had died in a tragic and violent collision, the one thing I wished I had done was ask him out for a burger. Just one meal. Maybe if my dad had known that one person in this world cherished him above all else and truly valued him as the person he is rather than judging him for the person he was becoming… maybe he wouldn’t have wanted to drink that night.

If I could have stopped my busy life for one moment to give him the affection and connection he deserved, then maybe he would have thought twice. I had always been his reason to stop drinking before, so why not now?

I felt guilt after he died for that one thing. I had the opportunity to make him feel important, and I missed it. It was the one thing I kept telling myself over and over, and it was a big reason that I gained so much weight after he died.

I’m not an outwardly emotional person. I don’t like to be seen crying, and I don’t like to bicker in public. I hate confrontation. I’m an extreme introvert. Everyone thought I was being so strong, but really I was just saving it for later. It took quite a long time before I went a day without crying. I’d cry in my cubicle. I’d cry in my bed. I’d cry in the shower. And I ate. I ate to fill a hole that nothing could fill, and I still haven’t filled it. It just scarred over.

This brings my to my next point: Weight loss is just as much mental as it is physical. I can, at any given time, make the decision to eat junk. I can logically choose to eat well or destroy my progress; however, it’s never as easy as all that. The way we treat our bodies is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Some express that violently or sexually, but I eat. Overeating is just another form of self-harm for emotional eaters. We loathe ourselves, we see ourselves as hideous, so we literally feed that.

I hated myself for giving up on my dad. I felt badly about whining when he asked for money or when he vented to me, but I was missing out on a beautiful relationship that only required my time and nurturing. I was his person. My dad confided in me and trusted me to help him, to listen when no one else would. What a treasure I ignored and rejected.

For a long time I thought I was ashamed that he had killed someone else, a young woman with children who needed her. Yes, I am ashamed of that, but it wasn’t my doing and it’s not my fault. I know that. I was ashamed because I wasn’t being half of the woman he taught me to be. I wasn’t doing the next right thing, and I wasn’t being kind or generous.

For that, I ate.

I’m not here to whine and broadcast the message that I need sympathy. I just feel like admitting my regrets is an action that will bring me one step closer to achieving my goal of losing 100 lbs, which has been 4 years of hard work.

I lost 5 lbs this weigh-in, and I’ve been working out in frigid temperatures in my garage. Damn, I feel good about that.

There’s not much else to say except that facing my demons is helping me to become a more compassionate and empathetic person. It also helps me to be more objective about events that have happened since then. Little things like a bad day or a ruined party are so much easier to handle now that I’ve been through something that legitimately broke me from the inside. There have been blessings in this curse.

I guess if I could hope for one thing, it’s that someone would read this and find some little nugget of wisdom in it that would help them make it through the day, make it to their goals, or simply to help them live more fully and passionately.

My dad’s death awakened something in me that feels, truly feels everything. It has inspired me to tackle life and my dreams with a renewed fierceness that I haven’t known before.

I can do this.