It’s 3 am, and I’m sitting here drinking a pot of coffee I just made. My artistic side wants to say that I’m up being creative, and my classy side wants to say that I’m up writing (which I am). In reality, and my complete honesty, I’m up because I’m thinking. That little nagging voice that keeps me from sleeping, since the day I was born, always up at odd hours. While I like to pretend that I’m up having a creative breakthrough writing some ground breaking piece on my struggles though life listening to Bach or Beethoven, you know being a “real” writer. I’m really sitting here surrounded by paint I bought years ago that only kind of gets used, a half finished painting that I’m not sure what the fuck is going on with it, and listening to the Harry Potter soundtracks, because I am revisiting my angsty teenage years. The ones that the series about a wizard boy got me through. The ones that I hate, and am sometimes grateful for, which sounds odd. I do have these moments of enlightenment (I really want to call them “pulling my head out of my ass moments” but that always gets the stink eye vote) where I can pretend to understand that every single thing happens for a reason, and that I am genuinely grateful for my dark shadows and my trials through life, because they made me who I am now. I like who I am most of the time (okay, just some of the time) but I know that I am a hell of lot smarter and more capable because of that shit I went through. (I have no problem referring to it as shit, because that’s how it felt. Shitty.) It doesn’t mean that I like it, or that I wish it hadn’t have happened, but it did. It is what it is. Shit. So I’m sitting here, listening to the music that accompanies the visual representation of the books that kept me going. I feel like a cliche saying that Harry Potter kept me going, and it feels really silly typing it out, knowing that someone will read it, and hopefully not laugh at it. But regardless of my embarrassment at it, and feeling silly, it’s the truth. Books have always had a strong impact on my life. They were my lifeboat, allowing me to escape to another world for a few hours, to a place where I didn’t hate myself. Where I didn’t think I was too stupid, too fat, to inept for life. I could live in whatever time and place I wanted. Music gave me the same outlet. They were both these amazing teleportations devices for me, that I could remove myself from the physical world and be someone else. I later used them as a form of therapy. I sought out the music that was able to articulate how I felt; the anger, the hatred, the sadness, the depression, the longing and the loneliness. Someone else understood this! THEY GET IT! As a teenager who felt so cut off from the world, to have any kind of lifeline was gift that I can never fully express how thankful I am for it. It takes courage, maybe some kind of stupid courage, to share your soul with people. To share what hurts you, and what makes your heart beat. To share what you would die for, and what has nearly killed you. To cut yourself open and be brave enough to say, THIS IS ME, is a rare form of courage. Not many people are willing to drag their dirty laundry out to air in public and to rip the skeletons out of their closet, and not fear the consequences for it. So many of us work so hard to repress those dark dirty little secrets, that honestly aren’t that dirty or that dark. Those scars that we hide with too much makeup and too big smiles. So many people are so good at hiding them, that sometimes we can just almost forget they are there, hiding just beneath the surface. We feel the rumble of the thunder as the storm builds, sometimes there’s a crackle of lightning that comes out as some misdirected emotion launches it’s self at some unsuspecting victim. We all have storms within us. Sometimes we flood and it over takes us. Sometimes we learn to control the thunder and the lightning, directing it to where it needs to go, to where we want it to go. Learning to control those storms is something that takes years to perfect, and unless you’re Storm from X-Men, most of us don’t have the natural ability for it. It’s like trying to read a book in Greek out loud to people who only understand Russian. I’m not a meteorologist. I don’t understand weather patterns or know what a cold front means. (I know what the cold is though, I live in Minnesota. It’s known for the cold and snow for a reason.) I don’t know what it’s like to be able to predict the weather. When it comes to the storm within me, I’m still confused sometimes. I can feel the thunder rumbling through my belly, and the lightning crackling through my veins, but often enough I don’t know how to anticipate what it will mean. I will feel sad, then feel depressed (They are very, very different beasts. That’s a whole another discussion though.) then will feel happy. I now have a capacity to feel light, and some kind of joy. Those are still foreign to me. I don’t understand how I can feel like my feet are no longer on the ground, after wearing cement shoes for so much of my life, the idea of feeling weightless is something my brain can not truly begin to process without have a massive clog in the intake of information. It’s reaching out and wanting to understand, but it can’t quite reach that mark yet. Some times I wonder if my brain is fully capable of understanding anything other than darkness. The idea that all I am in this life is just dark is at the forefront of my mind almost constantly. I wonder if my true capacity for love, joy and light was scooped out when I was young, or if never existed at all. If I was just happy when I was little, because I was truly ignorant of anything other than being a kid. I know I’ve spent my life deluding myself. I pull the wool over my own eyes. This deceitful trickery was only amplified by the skills of depression, how it rearranges and destroys everything it touches. It takes perfectly functional people and turns them into hollowed out shells of who they once were. It strips them of the capacity to be who they should be, of that potential to be even greater than they thought they could be. It only feeds us lies about what we are, how good we are and what we are worth. The inception of that deceit lies with the awakening of depression, those flames get fanned by us, we allow those lies to grow from a seed into creeping ivy that will cover us wholly and refuse to loosen it’s grip until we are engulfed by it. Lifeboats from the storm are what keep us alive. Literally and figuratively. They help us endure those storms that threaten to flood us, and they ensure our safety back to land. Whatever form they come, a lifeboat is something to be grateful for. I am grateful for mine, they came in the form of a protection for my mind, when it would run it’s self ragged from self hatred. There are no proper works for how grateful I am to the woman who wrote those stories about the little wizard boy who had the world on his shoulders. She was able to articulate how I, and so many others felt. As silly as it maybe, they helped ensure my survival to this point in my life.