My deep love of music has been saving me since I was a child. It made the good times lighter and brighter, and it carried me through some of my darkest days.
The artists that I was most drawn to were those who shared their own darkest days in their songs. Taking cues from them, my own darkness began pouring out of me in poetry when I was ten or eleven.
Sadness, anger, confusion, rage, despair. Somehow when these feelings had rhythm and meter and rhyme, they were so much easier to express. And sharing the darkness, even if just on paper, was a great release.
I couldn’t get enough sad, angry, emotionally charged music. I found my own validation and release through the words of so many artists through the years, too many to list. But I think it started with my dad’s Little Anthony & The Imperials album when I was nine, returning the needle to Tears on My Pillow over and over and over.
By the time Linkin Park came around, I was already a grown-up; close to 30 years old. By some standards, I should’ve been over the angsty-angry lyrics thing. But I wasn’t. I fell in love with Chester Bennington’s voice, and I connected with his words.
When he began speaking about his history of sexual abuse, I connected with his story. As I sang his songs, I connected with his darkness. Darkness set to rhythm and rhyme, the validation and the release.
The people we connect with on the deepest level in our lives, are not the people we only share our light with. They are the people who know both the light and the darkness within us.
Chester Bennington knew my darkness! He felt it! He survived it and he turned it into beautiful music. He had found a way to release it. He was a survivor.
But those of us who were victims as children, who are survivors now, know all too well that these things never leave us. They are woven into the fabric of our being. And sometimes, there’s a snag, a pull, a tear in the fabric.
No one can know what drove Bennington to the depth of despair. The reports all point to his history because he spoke openly about how those events led him down a path of drugs and alcohol. He spoke openly about the demons that haunted him.
He also talked about how music saved him time and again.
For that very reason, his suicide has stirred up a whole stewpot of emotions for me. He was a survivor. A vocal survivor. A beacon of light for other survivors.
And now, he stopped surviving. I guess it just got too dark.
His lyrics will still save me.
Linkin Park, One Step Closer
Still saves me.