Many moons ago I married my first husband. And many moons ago while married to my first husband, I started to feel anxious and claustrophobic. The marriage was terrible and he had become an angry, abusive alcoholic. Being a woman, I figured I could fix it. (We seem to be conditioned to believe that we can fix anything if we just work hard enough at it.) But during those many moons, I was beginning to doubt things could be fixed.
The last 5 years of the marriage were awful. Any opportunity to escape the house and do something, anything, with anybody but my husband…count me in. (Usually it was Barb of middleSage fame.) The last several years were worse than awful because I was stuck: too afraid to make a decision, too afraid not to. It was a time when I had even said to Barb, “Maybe I’m happy and I don’t know it.”
I had heard Lyle Lovett’s “Black and Blue” which scared the crap out of me. Although the story in the song was different than my own, I panicked that my future could look as bleak. Although my bruises were always in places people couldn’t see, the worst ones were in my heart. How did this go so wrong?
Listen to Lyle Lovett’s “Black and Blue” here: 08 Black And Blue
You’d think a smart, educated woman would have no difficulty making the decision to leave. But it was a struggle, particularly since nobody – not even my family – knew what was happening. Add the threats that “if you leave, I’ll….” do whatever. And the shame I felt. How could I possibly, explain to anybody? Most people thought he was a great guy.
Driving to and from work, play or where ever, I kept hearing music that drew me in. I remember listening to the Indigo Girls “Watershed.” It hit me like a ton of bricks and provoked such an emotional reaction I had to pull over until I could see through the tears.
“Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road,
You can stand there and agonize ’til your agony’s your heaviest load…”
I was stuck, stuck, stuck, and the song spoke directly to me. I was stuck, at the fork in the road, and agonizing over a decisions that I needed to make.
Listen to the Indigo Girls “Watershed” here: 07 Watershed
Besides escaping my house and husband as frequently as possible, when I was home I escaped through running. I ran to a variety of music, and had recently purchased new music, by Ferron, to run to. The music was etherial and allowed me to get out of my head. That was until I heard the chorus in “The Cart.”
“The cart is on a wheel,
And the wheel is on a hill,
And the hill is shifting sand….”
My whole life seemed summed up in this chorus. My life in a marriage with a mercurial partner was unstable, unhealthy and profoundly unhappy.
Listen to Ferron’s “The Cart” here: 02 The Cart
I had a good group of regular songs I ran to, and one of them, by Michelle Shocked (years before she’d lost her mind) became my anthem. The song was fast, a kick-it-at-the-end of my run pace. The chorus said it all and I knew life was better somewhere else:
“Your love, love, love
Don’t keep me satisfyed
And though I’ve never been there
I know it’s always greener
On the greener side.”
Listen to Michelle Shocked’s “On the Greener Side” here: 02 On The Greener Side 1
I was gaining strength and getting closer to making a decision. D-Day for me was on a ride into work. It was bad weather, I was upset at something or other that had happened in the household, and a Michelle Shocked song “Anchorage” put me over the edge. It’s a song of two friends reconnecting: one a musician, the other a married women who lives through her husband and kids and is wistful and longing for the past. The line in the song:
“What was the name of that love song you played?
I forgot how it goes….I don’t recall how it goes…”
Wow. Love. What was that? I sure didn’t remember either.
Listen to Michelle Shocked’s “Anchorage” here: 07 Anchorage
Bad weather and lots of wracking sobs and tears don’t go too well together. I ran into the ass end of the guy in front of me. Surprisingly nobody was hurt and neither car was damaged. When the other driver saw what a mess I was he tried to comfort me telling me it’s no big deal..don’t worry about it. But it was a big deal. I didn’t need another song or accident to jolt me into doing what I needed to do. I made the decision. I didn’t want to be married to this horse’s ass. I was done.
We all have songs that are a HUGE part of our lives. What are YOURS?
- Lyle Lovett, “Black and Blue”
- Indigo Girls, “Watershed”
- Ferron, “The Cart”
- Michelle Shocked, “On the Greener Side”
- Michelle Shocked, “Anchorage”