Ooooooooo, Roxy Roller.
When I hear those lyrics in my mind, I am transported to my friend Tania’s basement in the late 1970’s. Her parents had not finished their basement, so the plywood floors became our roller rink. We cranked disco music and skated circles around the billiard table—the only furniture in the room. We laughed as we zoomed around and around with our crappy metal skates that pinched our feet and cut off our circulation if we tightened the straps too much.
Music permeates most of my happy memories. Even the lamentations of The Cure or The The can instantly and happily transport me to my best friend Trina’s red MG–cruising, singing, feeling the kinship of round pegs in a world of square holes. Charley Pride’s version of The Green, Green Grass of Home takes me home to my own Mama and Papa, listening to 8-tracks in our truck and camper, on our way to some campground and the promise of adventure. And, of course, Roam by the B52’s will always be the official “Heading to Baja” anthem, as Fred and I blasted it every time we pulled out of the driveway in the winter.
In short, I love music. Truly, deeply, madly, love music.
So, when I tell you that, for the past year, I found no joy in music, perhaps you can understand how low I felt. A song would come on the radio, and I’d think, I used to love that song, but when I searched for that feeling…nothing. Where there had once been elation, or despair, or motivation, there was only a flat, grey landscape of meaningless sounds. I didn’t feel happy, or sad, or angry, I simply felt nothing. I didn’t care about music. I didn’t care about anything. I faked it for myself and others but I felt nothing.
More than anything, this was how I knew I’d fallen deeply enough into depression that I needed serious help. If music cannot make me feel something, what can?
This was also how I knew I was healing, when one day, without realizing it, I suddenly noticed that I was tapping my foot along to a song on the radio as Fred and I were driving. Such a tiny miracle: a tapping foot. But, oh how my heart lifted. I’m enjoying a song! My body is responding to music again!
It is these small victories that I have come to appreciate. Actually, it is all the small things that I now see through new eyes.
I went for a walk!
I did my yoga again!
I felt excited about something!
I finished a book!
I went an entire day without falling into a fixation loop!
It has been nearly a year since I fell apart. For the first time since then, I can honestly say that I feel hope and joy, that I honestly want to wake up in the morning and that a day is not merely something to endure but something to savour.
At the same time, I have learned to move slowly. I’ve let go of old me and her rigid standards. If I feel tired, I rest, without guilt. If I walk for 30 minutes, instead of berating myself for not running for 30 minutes, I celebrate. I’ve accepted that only gentleness and kindness will get me through this. Something as unremarkable as a tapping foot might as well be fireworks to me now.
When you lose almost every good part of yourself, gaining the smallest thing back makes you want to shout from the rooftops. I feel like George Bailey coming back to reality except instead of “My mouth’s bleeding, Bert! My mouth’s bleeding!” I’m shouting “My foot’s tapping, world! My foot’s tapping!”
I suspect that there will still be down days ahead but feeling something about anything fills me with hope that I can find my way home. I will be a different person when I get there but I think I will be a better person, a person who understands suffering and sadness more profoundly and who will listen more closely to those who have yet to find their feet tapping again and will not judge them for it. A person who knows how it feels to be lost and how it feels to find their way home.
Yes, they’ll all come to meet me. Arms reaching, smiling sweetly. It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home