The Art of Pain

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Earlier on this year I kept hearing this song by Adele which I later discovered was named “Rolling in the Deep”. It starts with the lyrics “there’s a fire starting in my heart….” It continues into the chorus which says “We could have had it all, now you gonna wish you never had met me, rolling in the deep, tears are gonna fall rolling in the deep, you held my heart inside your hand, now you gonna wish you never had met me and you played, you played it to the beat yes you played it” (the italicised words are the echo). When I heard this song I was really curious because it has this brutal honesty which is so refreshing. After hearing the song for weeks without knowing its origin I was introduced to Adele.. I was introduced to Adele when Mnet Series sampled her album. She sang this song among many others in her Album 21. The interesting thing about the album 21 is that it is really sad and angry. Most of the songs talk about getting your heart broken and getting past it or just being plain depressed about it. Other songs are nostalgic of a love that is done and dusted while others cling to hope like it is a life line. What can I say, I loved it! The album reinforced what I knew all along; I love sad songs, angry songs, recovering from a bad situation songs because those songs are works of art. Don’t get me wrong I am not cynical. I believe in love and the beauty that comes with it; I really, really do. On the other hand, I believe that life brings with it painful situations and there is no need to gloss over pain. Glossing over pain does not make it go away; the same way bandaging an open wound does not make the wound disappear.
The lesson for today is the art of pain. I will describe situations and give illustrations of songs that best bring out these situations. We sometimes find ourselves in situations where we have been in a relationship and towards the end we realize that the person we were with is not who we thought they were. We feel deceived and it makes us want to set fire to the rain.
Bridge: But there’s a side to you, that I never knew, never knew
All the things you’d say they were never true, never true
All of the games you played, you would always win, always win
Chorus: I set fire to the rain, I watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name….
(Adele-Set fire to the rain, off the album 21)
This is a terrible situation to be in. Deception is never easy to deal with. The best thing is to learn your lessons and ran with them. The old adage goes, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.
Then there is that time when you have been seeing someone, you have gone on a couple of dates but there is nothing concrete and you are not quite sure where you stand (pun intended). You feel like you are chasing something you can’t catch like you are chasing pavements. The chorus goes:
Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements,
Even if they lead nowhere,
Would it be a waste even if I knew my place, should I keep it there…
Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements,
Even if they lead nowhere
(Adele-Chasing pavements, off the album 21)
In such a situation my advice is don’t get ahead of yourself. If you know your place is friendship keep it there. Accountants will tell you “when in doubt, assume the worst”. A non-cynical way of looking at it is lower your expectations.
Have you been in a situation where the person you fancy is emotionally unavailable? The person could be emotionally unavailable because they are reeling from a past hurt. On the other hand you have been in this situation before where you spent your emotions on someone who was hurting and your heart was broken in the process. This time around you are gun shy and so you think:
Chorus: I won’t let you close enough to hurt me,
I won’t rescue you to just desert me,
I can’t give you the heart you think you’ve given me
So I’m saying goodbye to turning tables….
(Adele-Turning Tables, off the album 21)
What do you do when you’re in a situation where your heart has been battered, your self esteem bruised and your spirit broken? You take your heart and you get out!
Chorus: So I’m taking my heart and getting me out
And love’s something that I wouldn’t want to live without
So I’m taking my heart and I’m getting me out of
My own, my own, my own
I am taking my heart and I’m setting me free
And baby you are just another song to me
And the edge of your sword isn’t sharp enough for me to bleed
(Anna Nalick-Bleed, off the album Wreck of the day)
In the song she says she realised love wasn’t a good enough reason for her to stay. Sometimes people put up with a lot of things in the name of love. They endure physical and psychological abuse among other things but sometimes love isn’t reason enough and the only person who can set you free is yourself.
You might be wondering why the interest in sad, angry songs. In psychology class we learnt that when someone experiences trauma, the first course of therapy is called debriefing. Debriefing involves telling the story of the traumatic experience. Debriefing is one of the ways of processing the pain because as you tell the story of your trauma you re-experience the pain. With every subsequent re-experiencing the pain dissipates. Other ways of processing the pain include: journaling, singing, painting, letter writing etc. Given that not everyone is blessed with the ability to put their pain into words sad, angry songs come in handy. When you hear the words and you identify with them you get to re-experience the pain. With every subsequent re-experiencing the pain lessens and the bitterness dissipates and you heal with time.
Sometimes the pain of losing in love is insurmountable and you feel like you are driving away from the wreck of the day, but there’s someone you can turn to:
Driving away from the wreck of the day,
I am thinking of calling on Jesus,
Love doesn’t hurt so I cannot be falling in love
I am falling to pieces…
(Anna Nalick-Wreck of the day, off the album Wreck of the day)
At the end of the day when you have experienced more pain than you can handle, the one person you can really turn to is Jesus Christ. He is the God of all comfort, he is the friend who sticks closer than a brother and when your esteem has taken a beating he is the lifter up of your head.

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