The Reclaiming Working
I'M SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS
I remember going to my first session with my most recent Therapist, and for some reason, we immediately started to talk about music and how I had given it all up years previously.
Music was such a huge part of my teens and twenties and an enormous part of my identity, yet I had never mentioned it once in the 15-odd hours I spent with my previous Therapist.
When I told him that, very offhandedly, I had given up on music, he stopped, looked me right in the eye and said, "I'm really sorry that happened to you".
Man, I cannot describe the hole that opened inside me at that moment. It was like there was this huge obvious gaping wound in my side that was pissing blood everywhere, but I wasn't aware of it until that moment.
Until that moment, I was totally oblivious to the fact that I'd been bleeding out of this wound for years.
And why had I given up on music?
I don't want to get into the details too much because I feel a bit icky talking about other people in a public newsletter. But, the short story is I gave up music because I managed to surround myself with people and situations that destroyed my confidence in my musical ability. Thus, music felt like it belonged to other people.
I couldn't even listen to music at all for well over a year when I finished up in the "music business". I didn't want anything to do with it. Music just made me angry, sad, frustrated, and horrible.
Something that was my entire identity for about a third of my life was now nowhere to be seen.
Abandoned. Forgotten. Lost.
Soul Retrieval is a shamanic term that refers to reintegrating lost Soul parts back into a person to create healing.
I posted a Vlog a long while back that talks about this type of Soul Retrieval Ritual happening to me previously. In it, I mention that I had started to notice a pattern emerging from what I initially thought was just some randomness and then moved into a more deliberate, intentional action. You can watch it HERE!
For me, it usually starts from deep within, and it is only after a while that I realise it's happening. When I do notice, I get the profound sense that part of my soul, which I had left in the past, starts calling out to me - faintly at first, and then louder and louder.
Eventually, the voice is all I can here, to the exclusion of everything else, and I'm compelled to act, or I will not be left alone.
It's like the lost part of my soul starts to evoke me.
During the lockdown, the Great God Pan started to make himself known to me through a number of Syncs and various woo bits and bobs. Not long after the Piper showed up, I started to get an urge to play music again. A huge urge.
Which I did, but slow to start with. However, over the next few months, the music section of the studio began to get bigger and bigger, with drums, guitars and keyboards all coming out from the spare room and getting used.
The next thing I know is that I'm buying a new guitar - one I always wanted- then a piano, followed by lots of music recording software.
I begin writing and recording new music for myself first, and then various releases to the public.
This was the first part of the Reclaiming Working.
Then at the beginning of this year, things started to go bad - everything around me started to break, income slowed way down, all my relationships fell apart, and the air around me felt really stale and oppressive.
This has happened several times to me over the last few years - I'm actually just coming out of another such period now. It's usually a sign that something I am avoiding needs to be dealt with, and everything in my life will feel the squeeze until I do.
It was a very rough time, and I was unable to do anything creative.
After a couple of weeks of pretty much staring at the walls, I decided that if I couldn't do what I wanted, I could at least try to do things that I could do.
So, I cleaned out the office, sorted out bookshelves, backed up computers, cleaned hard drives etc. Doing simple things that didn't involve any sort of real mental effort.
Sadly, though my office looked great, it didn't really help to clear the emotional air.
Next, I thought about all the unresolved things in my life and decided to try to resolve them. Well, resolve is the wrong word; I just wanted to end the drama I felt currently around them. I didn't care if the actual events or situations from the past got sorted out or fixed or not.
One of the things I decided to do was contact the singer from the band I used to be in. We fell out and hadn't talked for many, many years, and because of that, it felt like I was unable to enjoy all the good memories from that period. They were somehow locked away in a room I had no access to because of how it all ended.
I sent him a message and told him I wasn't trying to get the band back together, rekindle a friendship, or sort any of the shit out. I just wanted him to know that despite how it ended, I was delighted our paths crossed - I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. He sent me a nice reply saying that he, too, was glad and that if we ever bumped into each other, we should have a pint and a bit of craic.
As you can see, The Reclaiming Working isn't about sorting the issues out, fixing the past situation, getting revenge, giving or receiving forgiveness, having my say, or anything other than ending the drama as it is now.
It's only about taking back the part of myself that got stuck in those shitty situations in the past.
This was the second part of the Reclaiming Working.
The next part was realising how much I let old criticisms affect me as I sing.
I'd be singing on my own in an empty room, but I would have loads of voices in my head of people laughing at me, slagging me, telling me I was making a fool of myself for even trying to sing - sadly, most of these are actual memories I was replaying though I suspect I have ramped them up over the years.
I would try to sing a high note, and all the voices would raise to a cacophony, and my note wouldn't even be attempted. It was extraordinary to finally see what I had been doing—years of holding back because of words spoken to me 20 or 30 years ago.
I talk about it a bit in THIS VLOG and what I did to try to overcome it.
This was the third part of the Reclaiming Working.
SONGS FROM THE PAST
Recently, I started noticing that I was listening to music I hadn't listened to in years. It was music that deeply resonated with me when I was a teenager, and when I was in the band I mentioned above.
It just crept up on me, like a voice in the distance. A song here, a song there. Some out-of-the-blue YouTube and Spotify recommendations, some weird syncs. All pointing, quietly at first, to something I'd left behind.
I then noticed that I was playing a lot of electric guitar. The guitar was my main love for many years, but some experiences in cover bands left me feeling that guitar, particularly Lead Guitar, was owned by other people. I felt like I wasn't seen as good enough to be accepted into the local guitar hero hierarchy. All I had been doing my whole life was fooling myself into believing I was a good guitar player. The facts were in - we did a survey, and everyone said, "you suck!"
Now, I'm far from the world's best guitar player, but I'm decent enough, particularly when I have been practising a lot. But I had been discounted by my peers, and so I discounted myself.
I had zero confidence in myself as a guitar player, so much so that I changed to the piano as my main instrument. I'm a less-than-average piano player, bordering on a beginner in a lot of ways, but it felt that... well, the guitar is taken, so I need to try some other avenue that could be mine.
All the while, in the background to my daily life, more and more of the old music was being played. Why had I stopped listening to it? Why do I still say these are some of my favourite bands, but yet I never listen to them?
Then, while playing guitar one day, I realised that I had been deliberately avoiding this music. It felt like it was other people's music. It somehow belonged to them. It felt like it didn't belong to me. It was like I had lost the music to the other party in a nasty divorce settlement.
But I also discovered that listening to it made me feel bad because I had failed to live up to the potential that I thought I once had.
I was avoiding it because I was avoiding a part of myself that I didn't want to look at - the failed musician. The guitar player inside who was heartbroken that his dreams didn't work out. A very sad and lonely boy who felt his rock star dreams had been taken away from him by life, circumstance, and by others.
I guess, I never grieved for the part of me who really longed to "make it" but never did. Looking back now I am so grateful I never "made it" as a rock star as I'm pretty confident it would have killed me. I don't think I would have survived that sort of life. But part of me really wanted it and felt terribly sad that it never happened.
But now, over and over - to the exclusion of everything else - was the soundtrack of my failure being played over and over again. Calling me.
Like a siren, the music was calling me back to reclaim the parts of my soul I had left behind.
I realised that despite recording albums, singles and EPs over the last couple of years, I was still turning my back on music. I was still avoiding it.
I still could not look it directly in the eye.
So, I made a deliberate effort to reclaim all the music from years ago. I once again bought the albums that once defined me, I once again re-watched the gigs videos that I once obsessed over. I once again watched interviews and documentaries about the bands I long ago loved.
I evoked the music to the exclusion of all else.
It felt like hanging out with old friends again.
I started to feel like a real guitar player again.
I started to notice how much I hadn't been myself for years.
It felt like a part of me came back home.
But then absolute disaster struck...
Due to a number of computer issues and errors, none of which were my fault, I lost all my music files. All my mulittracks of released songs, over half an album worth of unreleased songs, and all my half ideas and half-finished songs.
Perhaps this was the banishing section of the Reclaiming Ritual. Though, when you lose everything, you do get to start afresh.
CUT TO THE MODERN DAY...
So, I am currently recording a new album, which I may or may not release.
It's an album dedicated to the part of my soul I had abandoned. It's a love song to a younger me that I regretfully left out in the cold to wither and die.
It's a soundtrack to this Reclaiming Working.
And hopefully, now I am able to give my younger self the validation and praise he so longed for, and so deserves.
Then, I can finally take him home, back into my heart, and reclaim him.
And after that, I'm guessing, I will start to hear another small voice calling to me to come collect them from the past too, and I'll come running.
For those curious, the music that haunted me from the past was by Jane's Addiction, and a particular RHCP album called "One Hot Minute" from 1995 which featured JA's Dave Navarro.