In going through some of my things today as I cleaned my apartment which I have severely neglected in my hustle and bustle the last few week I found this picture.
I’m probably about 15 or 16 here I’m guessing. I’ve got awkward bangs that hid my incredibly awful acne and hair pulled either into a pony tail or a hair clip because it was very long and I didn’t have a single clue on how to style it. Add to it the plaid pants and the baggy red sweater…..yea I was NOT beating the boys away with a stick, that’s for damn sure.
Actually I got bullied & teased a lot. I was very flat chested, face covered with acne and my self-esteem was so low, I couldn’t even stand up for myself. I would just hide and avoid. You’d find me eating lunch in the bible club teacher’s classroom. That was the safest spot where I didn’t have to hear the cool kids yell stuff at me or make fun of me for dressing like a boy or having no style or being flat chested.
Being a teenager was fucking rough. It was downright scary most days. Early in my high school career, I made the mistake of kissing a boy who had a thing for gothic looking girls – me at the time. He must’ve gotten embarrassed that I didn’t fit the normal mold of girls he dated because after hanging out a few times and he told me he really liked me – suddenly he was calling me a slut in front of all of his friends when I came to give him a hug one day.
Then that’s all I heard – slut, slut, slut coming from every direction. In the middle of class, in the halls at school, in the parking lot….I couldn’t get away from it. But I hadn’t actually had sex with him. I was a virgin all the way through high school actually, not having sex until I was 18.
It made me suicidal – I’d cut myself sometimes. I cried a lot not understanding why these kids were so cruel to me. I wished I was someone different. I wished I looked different. I wished I was skinner, whiter, blonder hair, bigger tits, prettier face…..whatever was causing them to be mean. If I could’ve changed it, I probably would’ve done whatever I could to change it.
But I was labeled a slut and I couldn’t get away from it, so I hid. I didn’t go to school events, I didn’t hang out in the quad with the cool kids, I didn’t go to parties…..I spent most of my time alone in my room. Music was my escape. It was the glue that held me together when I felt like my life was completely over. When you are a teenager, it truly feels like your life is over when kids bully you.
My Mom was incredible at nurturing this love of music. Every Friday, she would get me a new cd for helping out around the house and for taking care of my little brother on nights she had to work late.
One such CD was Mer de Norms by A Perfect Circle. I became instantly obsessed with Maynard’s incredible voice. Each song on that album said something to me. I caught one of their music videos one day – Judith. It was this video where I saw a female bass player and in that moment I HAD TO PLAY BASS!!! The exact moment I’m referring to happens at [1:55] where she puts her hair in a ponytail between riffs. I was hooked!
That Christmas I got my first bass guitar – it’s the one in the picture for this post. I spent day after day in my room playing that baby. I’d look up bass tabs on the internet, head to my room and pay the song over and over. I must’ve drove my parents and brothers crazy with all that pounding bass coming from my bedroom but no one ever complained.
I’m fairly certain that picking up the bass guitar and having my parents be so supportive of my music helped get me through my high school years. I was very depressed and some times had suicidal thoughts. But that bass guitar lifted me back up. The music lifted me back up and I made it through.
I think it’s why, in times of severe distress, I turn to music. It’s truly what heals my soul when it feels like everything is crumbling around me. Maybe you have something too that saved you when you thought nothing else could. Maybe it’s religions, maybe it’s music, maybe it’s your sweet grandmother, maybe it’s something else entirely.
Whatever it is, cherish it and don’t forget it’s importance in your life. For a long time I put my musical abilities on the back shelf and forgot about them. After going through my abusive marriage, I was convinced that I had zero music abilities, that my singing voice was the worst on the planet and that music would get me no where.
What I’ve realized in the last year is that music has value in my life and maybe it does in yours too. There are certain songs that have helped me get through some of the darkest and toughest times. I saw this image recently that said “Fuck Nudes. Tell me about the song that kept you alive when you felt like nothing else could save you.” Yes, lets have more of those types of conversations. I would love to hear about some of your favorite tunes and what they mean to you.
I’ve been picking up my bass and paying again. I’ve found my voice and been cultivating it and though it still is something I’m very shy about, trying to share pieces of it with the world. I’m not saying I’m heading out into the world to be the next Mariah Carey or anything – but it’s fun to do a karaoke night every now and again, or play some tunes for the fam when we get a chance to see each other.
Seeing that teenage pic of me playing bass sent a flood of emotions through my veins. I wish I could tell that girl so many things but ya know, she had to experience all those things to become the person sitting in front of this keyboard right now. I probably wouldn’t have listened to adult me anyhow lol.