The studio – where my album, Serenity, came to be – was a little green room, in a small wood house with a tree growing through it. It was rustic and certainly conducive to fostering creativity. The lights in the studio, violins and guitars and other indistinguishable instruments hanging on the wall felt like home. And that place became my refuge.
Recording was where I encountered myself for the first time. My tendency to hide came flaring up. How can I be perfect and vulnerable all at the same time? The microphone felt all too close. Moments of debilitating shame, fear and vulnerability locked up my throat. The blaring red recording button would start the piano intro in my headphones. This meant my singing entrance was coming. I’d take a step towards the mic. Panic. All I could hear was my mind screaming, “Oh no, will I be able to swallow? My throat is closing in. My throat is closing in. MY THROAT IS CLOSING IN.”
Creating Serenity was not a week long process of studio time, but a culmination of studio days here and there for a year and a half, each one taking more out of me than the one before. Each night before I went to the studio, I would roll around restlessly and anxiously in bed, unable to sleep. The impenetrable shell which I hid behind was cracking; like the sand tumbling around in the waves, my outer shell was eroding. I dreaded facing my producer because he’d seen me at my rawest and most unguarded state every time we recorded. I could barely handle the shame of it.
I started recording days with an early morning walk to gather myself, a cup of tea to soothe my throat, and the 50 minute commute. Sessions were typically six hours long, and each time I left feeling completely emptied out. Although I had finally found where I belonged for the first time, my songs resurfaced e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g I’d ever been through and learned to suppress. I had a lifetime’s worth of emotional baggage inside me, including everything anorexia had taken out of me. Though the music brought up all of the trauma and all of the emotions with it…this process of walking through the pain is what healed me.
To the world I had become a stranger, but I didn’t want to be a stranger to myself anymore.
Nothing compares to speaking the truth of your soul. Especially the dark night. It is the scariest, most vulnerable and beautiful thing you can do. Things often get worse before they get better, but not recognizing your own reflection is the greater tragedy.
What I’ve learned is that healing takes three main things:
1. Awareness – having pain or needing to cry does not mean there’s something wrong with you. Seek help.
2. Own it – walk through the fire; you are a warrior. The only way out of the pain is through it.
3. Overcome it – having support, and encouragement will give you strength. Lean on others. Acknowledging and owning your pain will lead to overcoming it.
If you haven’t found what gives your soul safety and serenity, go find it. We all need somewhere to go to be recharged. We cannot hide and simultaneously be healed. So come out of hiding. Break through the shell. Find whatever gives you the release. Don’t be a stranger to your dear self. Walk through the pain. Serenity is awaiting on the other side.