The Same Old Record


“This guy must have it all figured out”

Reading this blog, some people may actually believe that.  If you want to protect yourself from any spoilers, then please stop reading now.  

I don’t.  (Spoiler complete) 

I just spent the last 36 hours ruminating over a disappointment.  A trivial blip on the radar of anything humanity would justify as relevant or important.   Yet, it meant something to me and it took me until this evening to finally let it go. 

In the midst of my darkest depression and my addiction I spent weeks and sometimes even months dissecting, self-criticizing and punishing myself for the words or actions of other people.   

Every single line of an email was a direct criticism to the core of my being.  Every off-handed comment or gesture critiqued my very existence.  Every staled glance in the hallway was a glare of disappointment. It simply became easier to keep my head down.  The floor never glared judgingly deeper into my soul.   Night after night, I let other people live in my head.   Night after night the words of other people kept me up until the middle of the morning.  Restless. Defeated.  Critical.  

If I slept, I woke up to the same echoes in the mirror.  The same projections of their broken records scratching into the soundtrack of my daily life.   A spiraling, circular pattern on repeat, worn like a Neil Young album on my father’s old 45.  Less melodic at times, yet somewhat heartbreaking all the same.  

“You aren’t good enough”

“Why couldn’t you have done better?”

Unless you have lived it, no one truly knows the expenditure of exhaustion these recorded tolls can take.  A skipped record scratching into an infinite descension.  Grasping for an arm to simply make the stylus needle stop.  

Today, I found myself in this same repeated cycle as the self-doubt began to creep back into my life. A trivial disappointment amplified through a megaphone of the trials of my past.  A moment where I retreated to the essence of my own learned behavior defaults – to run, to hide, to blame myself and keep my head down to the floor. 

“You aren’t good enough” 

“You should have done better”  

In the early morning, years of counseling helped me to lift my gaze from off of the floor.  To make contact with the world again and to keep my eyes open.   In the late morning, self-reflection reminded me to take the record player down from the shelf, to stare at the turning disc with a fresh set of eyes.  To reflect deeper into the words of the song.  By early afternoon, mindfulness allowed me to listen to the song with all of its glorious imperfections.  Not just the screeching repeats, but the holistic tune sung by a larger symphonic orchestra.  By the end of the day, an army of friends came to listen to the song too.  They listened and they heard a different melody all together. They reframed a meaning of which I was missing the entire time.   

And after the track was finished, played until its whining conclusion, the last friend picked up the record and smashed it.  Crushed the tired, repetitive hatred into a million distinct pieces of an insignificance deserved.  We laughed and hugged in a newfound silence.  

“Don’t worry. Together, we can figure this all out”.