16 October 2018

Deleting Humans

I'm having such a hard time deleting you from my life.

I've done this before -- too many times. A text comes through and you just sort of mentally scratch another person off your list of friends to call when something terrible or wonderful happens. You mentally note another anniversary. You read the obituary. And they just sort of fade out of your life -- just gone, irrevocably gone, incommunicado, with no explanation. You go back home and don't happen to see them and you think maybe next time.

Sometimes the funeral helps make it real. But yours didn't. It's still not real. I was there, in the pew, and I heard your brother and your teacher and your friends give the eulogies. I heard -- I felt -- the thundering bagpipe lift a mournful cry to the autumn heavens. I watched the still lifes of your now-still life float by me, mere pixels on a projector screen, trying and failing to capture and contain and give back to us the experience and essence of your life, the vivacious energy you carried. I watched the singers' faces crinkle, I saw them clasp each other's hands, holding tightly -- eyes closed, ribcages shuddering -- knowing they knew they could no longer take yours. I heard your mother weeping, howling like no creature in the world ever could -- the haunted, hollow cry of a mother's gutted heart.

And then I went out into the balmy fall day, into the coloured leaves and the blue sky -- I somehow assumed all the colour would die when you did. Maybe that's why my heart doesn't feel it yet. The world is still too bright for you to not be in it. How could you possibly be gone if the sun is still shining? I would think it's some dramatic trick for attention, but the echo of your mother's visceral sobs in my memory tells me otherwise.

I look at the pictures I have of you -- thank goodness I knew you during my take-pictures-of-literally-EVERYTHING phase -- and I study your face and I can't reconcile the fact that I will never see it again in real life. I can't remember your voice, but I remember the words you'd use on our Facebook chats -- I'd recognise your writing voice again in a heartbeat.

If only you still had a heartbeat.

I still do -- why don't you? How is it possible that I'll never -- truly, never -- see you again? How can I look at that face in the pictures, the face of my friend, and delete it from my life? That's so cold, so heartless, so final -- even though you've already deleted it from my life. It seems impossible to just take it as fact that I will never hear from you again. There's always hope, isn't there? The prodigal always comes home, don't they? Love conquers all, doesn't it?

How then can I look at you, that wildly expressive face, and say definitively that hope is gone, and you'll never return, and my love for you -- our love for you -- could not conquer your demons? To do so is to admit defeat. It means I've given up on you and I can't find it in my heart to do that to you; you who have been through so much and meant so much to me. You're not gone -- I just haven't seen you in a while. Like so many others in my far-flung life. They haven't died, they're just geographically far away. Can't you be the same? Can't I run into you at some gala twenty years from now and revert to overexcited fourteen-year-olds again as we catch up on shows, and men, and recent projects? I'll be waiting for that day.

I'll be waiting a darn long time for that day.

12 October 2018

Music Day - Numb

This is a song that probably doesn't need much introduction -- one of the few songs in my library that other people would actually know. But I'm listening to it now and I'm dedicating this Music Day to the lovely but trapped M -- lover of performing and writing and rock music, victim of the hell that is perfectionism.

I loved her. I know her brain was sick and she couldn't receive it, but I loved her all the same, and I hate that I'll never see her light up a room again -- nobody could do it like she did and I daresay nobody ever will.

This is how I feel right now. My mind is screaming and clouded like the guitars, but my heart is numb.

Title: Numb
Artist: Linkin Park
Album: Meteora
Year: 2003
iTunes here; YouTube here.

And I know I may end up failing too
But I know you were just like me with someone disappointed in you...

07 October 2018

Upheaval and Music (A Snapshot)

Life has been in upheaval lately.

I am preparing to graduate this coming April (and none too soon, according to the powers-that-be...). I have planned several auditions for productions outside the college over the next couple of months -- hoping to hit the ground running so I don't experience the post-grad psychological crisis (because it's a real thing and it almost killed me last time). Also I actually managed to land an actual role with actual lines at the college (I know, I was shocked too). And I've now attended the funeral of a suicide (my very good friend -- a brilliant dancer and fearless writer).

I find myself re-evaluating my life quite a bit in the wake of all this. I am definitely ready to graduate -- not angry-ready, just ready. I sense I've more or less gotten all I'm going to get out of my current post-secondary stint and it's time to move on.

And my friend's death has redoubled my passion to live my life the way I feel called to rather than be pressured into spending it at some soulless desk job. I feel a bit of a burden in my spirit to live the life that she never will -- to dance just as brightly and passionately and to write with just as much verve and abandon as she did. It's up to me now to take up that mantle she left behind.

I don't know what any of this looks like. I guess I'll keep practicing and keep auditioning and keep performing. After all, that's basically the life I've always wanted anyway.

Tonight I'm listening to Michael W. Smith's brilliant album i 2 (EYE). This is the album that fits this night, this moment of my life, with its themes of providence and life (warts and all), and darkness and light and loss and sadness and camaraderie. As I've said before, where people cannot grasp the feelings in my soul, music can, and tonight this album is that music. I can't really describe it -- it's a strange mix of what MWS actually wrote coupled with my long bank of memories associated with this album and they all come together in this particular listening tonight. I wouldn't quite say it's bringing me comfort -- in fact as I Hear Leesha plays it's kind of ripping the hole left by my friend's death even bigger -- but it just fits. It makes emotional sense, on some deep subconscious soul level. It accompanies the upheaval with a sort of peace even at it brings me temporarily back to the times before everyone died, sitting in the Dodge Spirit in a Fabricland parking lot with my dad, playing this cassette over and over.

I'll help you find your way
When you're lost in all the madness
When you're blinded by your doubts
When you need someone to be there for you
I'll help you find your way...

01 October 2018

I Know The Drill

Do you know what I hate?

I hate being in my mid-twenties and getting a text saying that a dear friend of mine has died and knowing exactly how the next few weeks will look for me because I've done this all before. I hate that I know exactly which music to listen to and what to avoid. I hate that I know how long it'll take for the news to hit home. I hate that I'm planning a roadtrip for a funeral on Thanksgiving weekend. I hate that I'm so matter-of-fact about this because I know the drill -- I hate that I know the drill.

My friends are celebrating weddings and birthdays and anniversaries. They're going on dates and having children and going on vacation.
And I just keep attending a steady stream of funerals.

I came across a picture the other day featuring myself, my sister, Brittney, and one of my dance friends.
It's a candid shot (though Brittney had seen the camera and was posing), taken by my sister at my birthday party in 2012. And I looked at this picture and realised that two of the four people in that photo are dead, a mere six years later. Brittney, at twenty, was the oldest person in that photo. None of us should be dead, not yet. We're all too young, and yet we're dropping like flies. I've almost come to expect that everyone I've ever loved in going to die young and I'm going to outlive them all, lonely and angry.

When one of my good friends attempted suicide last year, I distinctly remember writing in my journal, 'next death, I die too. I'm not taking this anymore.'

That next death happened this past Thursday.

Yesterday morning one of my very good friends asked me how I was doing. I told her I wasn't doing great and she gave me a hug and there was this strange moment in my head -- both this friend and I have survived suicide attempts and here she is, comforting me in the wake of another friend's suicide. Why did the two of us live? Yet... how strangely beautiful that we did, and now we have each other. We have both been through Hell and back.

The moment reminded me of the old Burlap To Cashmere song...
You have one wing and I have another
Seeking shelter like sister and brother...
Hold my hand and we'll make it all right
From this hell that we live in...
It's a long and lonesome ride
When your friends have all gone home...
(Eileen's Song, Burlap To Cashmere, 1998)

25 September 2018

Analog Media

Anyone who knows me (or has had the greater misfortune of actually living with me), knows I take in and use a LOT of analog media. Vinyl, cassettes, 35mm film cameras (and prints), physical books, pen and paper, journals, old PCs... entering my room is like entering a time warp (the lava lamp next to the high-end laptop doesn't help). (We should all count our blessings that I haven't yet fulfilled my dream of owning a Sega Genesis or a Pac-Man arcade console.)

On a recent trip to the city (during which I picked up my film prints from the lab, looked through some vinyl, bought a book -- it would have been two if I'd had the funds; and shot a bunch of film), I began to realise that the reason I purchase/collect/use SO MUCH physical analog media is because it will always be there for me, in ways people never are. You can pull out your favourite photograph at 3am and look at it and escape into the better world, however briefly. You can spin your favourite album at 11pm and as long as you wear headphones nobody gets upset and the poetry will still understand what your souls struggles to comprehend. If you're alone for the tenth straight day you can sit and read your favourite book and have a companion in Lord Peter Wimsey. Analog media is there when people refuse to be or at the very least cannot be.

Yes, you can accomplish all that on an iPad (books, music, photography, writing, games) and it does take up FAR less space than a vinyl collection and eight camera lenses, but it's not real. You can't touch it, hold it, interact with it on a personal level. It's like playing a synthesizer violin versus playing a real violin. It's the same as texting someone rather than going for dinner with them. Technically, you're talking, but you're not really connecting. Connecting with someone or something is a much more full experience than I think we sometimes want to believe. We have five senses, but most of the time we try to reduce ourselves to one or two.

It's the little physical, in-person things that make analog media a companion on the lonely evenings. It's the feel of dropping the needle in the groove and hearing the soft crackle, watching the cartridge bob up and down. It's feeling the glossy edge of a photo print. It's hearing the spring as the shutter opens and feeling the tug of the film in the sprockets as you throw the advance lever. It's feeling the roughness of the pages as you turn them. It's hearing the soft scrape of the ballpoint on a fresh page in a hardcover notebook and running your fingers over the grooves of the writing on previous pages, watching how your own writing changes from day to day. It's pushing that huge 'Play' button on the cassette player, feeling the resistance of it as you push the entire playhead mechanism into motion. I haven't even talked about the smell of vinyl, and books (new and old), and the cassette booklet, and fresh ink on paper.

One of my favourite roles I've played is the Man in Chair from The Drowsy Chaperone, and that character helps me make my point here. The character is divorced, socially awkward, has some health problems, is a bit of a shut-in. He makes no reference to any friends or acquaintances or even workmates. All he has to console and intellectually stimulate himself is his vinyl collection. This is his escape and his comfort and his window into the world. He doesn't have people around him, so he turns to the next best thing -- vinyl. Vinyl is there for him when nobody in the real world knows he even exists.

How many times do you hear of people with depression or in hard times turning to music, in some form or another, in those times? How many people do you know who binge-watch Netflix? How many people with mental illnesses turn to things like painting or writing, especially during flare-ups? In all fairness I can only speak for myself, but when my depression hits the point (and it has at times) when literally everybody in my entire life gives up on me and outright refuses to interact with me because I'm 'so negative,' you know what? My Electric Eye vinyl still plays. My camera shutter still fires. The book's pages still open. None of these give me crap for not feeling the 'right' emotion at any given moment. They're just there.

I know these deep dark times will recur throughout my life. And I know that 99.9% of the people who say they're going to be there will not be. So I surround myself with analog media as a barricade against my own self-imposed demise.

22 September 2018

On Human Souls

'I wish I'd never been told that this species had souls...'
- Mark Heard (iDEoLA), 1988.

Do we realise, really truly realise, how much power we possess to wound and to heal other humans? Every time we interact with somebody -- anybody -- we hold at least a tiny piece of their soul in our hands, if only for a few seconds.  Every facial expression, every word, every inflection, every movement has the power to encourage or to devastate, even a tiny bit. But tiny bits add up quickly. And if the other person trusts you, you hold rather a large chunk of their soul in your hands -- meaning the damage you could do is rather more severe. And the joy and encouragement you could give goes more quickly to a much deeper place within them. Not only that, you have access to their soul while you're apart. With the bank teller, it doesn't matter what you do after you've left the bank. It won't affect them. With a close friend, it matters a good deal what you do and say even when you're not with them because inevitably your actions will affect them on some level because your lives are so intertwined.

Similarly, do we realise how fragile and important these souls are that our thoughts and actions brush every day of our lives? Do we know how rare they are? If we knew all this, really knew it, with every fibre of our being, would it change how we interact with them? Would we realise how crucial our words and actions are in every single interaction? Would we be more empathetic? Would we as a culture be less locked up and afraid and lonely?

I guess we'll only know if we begin to realise how much rests in our hands in even the most routine moments of running errands or cooking dinner. This is part of the weight of glory, of being made in the image of God -- the very fact that we have access, however limited, to the souls of every other human on the planet.

20 September 2018

Normal or Gifted...?

This is more of a PSA than me breaking new ground (probably), but here's the thing about gifted people -- people with special abilities, talents, or skills. (In the context of this post I'm referring to the performing arts because that's what I know, but this can apply to literally anything -- leadership skills, speaking abilities, math skills, philosophical genius, yo-yo skills...)

Have you ever wondered why the most gifted are the ones who doubt their calling the most?

We all grow up thinking that we are normal. All our abilities are the same as everybody else's. This is why children tease each other so mercilessly when one can't do something as well as the others. We all start out assuming we're the same.

From a gifted person's perspective... we assume everyone is just as good an actress as we are. We assume everyone can see the spiritual/emotional background of daily events the way we can. We assume everyone can sing beautifully. Our gifts aren't extraordinary -- they aren't even gifts. They're just normal and everyone has them... right? They're nothing special.

Meanwhile everyone outside assumes we can see we're different and special, and they get confused (or even angry) when we get discouraged. To those outside of me and my abilities and my perspective of those abilities, they assume we know that we're gifted and thus see no need to belabour the point -- to actually tell us our gift has been an encouragement to them. So they say nothing, assuming we already know. To those outside, the difference between the ones with the gift and the ones without is vast. Those who don't have it see it so clearly. But the gifted assume they're normal. We assume everyone has the same abilities we do, on a fairly equal (or perhaps higher) level than us.

In short -- we can't see our own gifts. We're too busy assuming you have them as well. We're too blinded by your gifts to see our own.

And you wonder why we are so discouraged and 'needy' all the time. You wonder why we so often give up, citing 'I'm not that great at it,' or 'there are others who are doing a much better job of this.' To you it seems SO CLEAR that we have an extraordinary ability, but to us -- we think our ability is merely normal (if not subpar). No matter how great it is -- in fact, the greater our natural ability is, the harder it feels to improve on the (perceived) baseline 'normal' and be 'actually good' at it. It feels unattainable.

And you wonder why so many of the most gifted end up listed as suicides.

24 August 2018

Darkness and Creation

Mentally, at this specific moment, I am probably in a better place now than I have ever been since before depression first hit me when I was nine years old. I blame actually tasting my performance dream in real life for this improvement (and probably also being in an environment well away from my negative church/extended family).

Here's the thing though.

After skipping NaNoWriMo last year because I was so uninspired, I'm now wondering if I should attempt this year. On one hand, I haven't really done anything creative in a very long time and I miss that. NaNoWriMo could be just the thing to kickstart my creative brain again.

But... the only story idea I've come up with so far that I might actually squeeze a novel from is a story that basically deals with the subject of abusive churches.

On one hand, it could be good to write this. Having gone through some stuff in previous churches (and heard stories of others' experiences) means I definitely have a place to write from, and goodness knows I feel strongly about this topic. It's possible that writing about the topic could help me deal with my own experiences. Writing is definitely a cathartic thing for me, and the times when I was at my worst emotionally were the times I couldn't write because I didn't have words to encompass the pain.

But on the other hand, I'm actually in a fairly good place mentally. I've pretty well severed myself from the ones who inflicted so much damage on me in the name of Jesus. Dare I dredge all that up in my memory again? I've mentioned before how writing well is not much different from method acting -- the best way to resonate with the reader is to actually feel what the characters are feeling. This includes their pain.

When I was filming Rift several months ago, I was already sort of on an upswing, mentally. But I deliberately sort of 'kept' myself in a dark, frustrated place until I finished filming because I wanted that dance to capture, as authentically as possible, the pain and frustration it was intended to convey. I think the rawness and honesty of the piece did benefit from that and I don't think I regret it. But now that things have gotten SO much better... do I want to deliberately go back to a dark place for the sake of my art? I'll probably end up back there soon enough anyway -- dare I risk hastening it? Is it possible to dip into it for a couple hours each day (during writing sessions) and then 'switch it off' and return to my current content/joyful state? Or is that playing with fire? Will I be able to switch it off?

And if I decide not to risk plunging myself into the depths again, even for the sake of art -- then what do I write about? That's literally the only story idea I have right now. Characters and plots and allegories used to spring to my mind fully formed as I went through the motions of life, but now I can't even remember what it was like to have a story consume me the way stories like Reuben, Rebecca's World, Chasm, and of course, Kyrie did.

I miss that.

23 July 2018

The Effect of Perelandra

Almost finished reading C.S. Lewis' Perelandra.

READ. THIS. BOOK.

I am not kidding. I do not care who you are. I don't care if you normally hate fantasy fiction (I do, actually). I don't even care if you normally hate reading. READ THIS BOOK. It gets off to an incredibly slow start, but once it gets going it grabs you by the soul. Not the throat, not the heart -- the soul. What the Chronicles of Narnia has lost by being so immensely popular, this trilogy has retained by being almost completely unknown.

Ordinarily I would start thinking, what can I take from here to improve my own writing? But to try to strip writing advice out of a work so -- there are no adequate words -- intense is to strip it of its weight and meaning. And perhaps that would be an unnecessary exercise anyway -- as I was just saying to my brother not long ago: whatever you're reading will, for better or worse, show up in your writing. Your output will begin to reflect what you're putting into your mind, your spirit, your soul. You don't even have to try for it, it just happens. I was telling somebody the other day that as soon as you start trying to be sincere, you're no longer sincere. That particular discussion was in the context of interpersonal relationships and communicating feelings through writing, but it also applies to art -- as soon as you 'try' to make something great, it automatically loses some of its potential to be great.

Instead, I'll try to document some of what this story has done to me.

For it did do things to me. I was reading Buechner the other day and he said something to the effect that things like painting and music are subcutaneous arts -- they get under the skin and slowly seep into your being. But writing is an intravenous art -- it goes directly into your bloodstream, in minutes, undiluted. If I ever doubted that, Perelandra has proved it to me.

I've never really been one to read trashy novels. My mother was a huge book-lover, a teacher, and a bit of an intellectual. My earliest memory of her is of her reading to us. We, her offspring, read copiously as children and teens (that was just what people did in their free time, wasn't it?). And because my mother was very aware that what you read influences how you think, she ensured that we had access to books of substance. Those were what she bought and read to us, and so those influenced our tastes as we began choosing our own reading material. As a writer myself, I can't stand trashy junk-food novels -- the mass-produced brain-clogging recycled intellectual and emotional pablum that serves only to give your eye muscles a little exercise but not your brain. But even though I haven't even been reading trash, this book makes me think 'this is what stories are supposed to be.' This level of intensity, this real, this rich, this deep, this poetic/allegorical to the mysteries of real life. It's like every story I've ever read to this point in my life has been a cheap facsimile of a real story.

I needed to read this story now, at this point in my life. It speaks to so much of what I've been thinking about and going through lately and puts a lot of it into perspective.

For a while now, I've been realising that I'm different, on a fundamental level, from most people. Even writing that sounds a little boastful, and I don't mean it to be. I mean it only as an observation. I'm beginning to realise that not everyone sees what I see (intellectually/spiritually/emotionally) -- they don't make the connections that I do. When artists say 'people don't get it,' they actually mean that -- people really, truly, do not get it. And it's frustrating because to me it seems to obvious, so simple, so logical, if only you pause and think about it a little. It's like I can see -- however dimly -- what goes on behind the curtain of the empirical world while most everybody else seems to not even realise there IS a curtain.

And although the layperson might think it's cool and fun to see things others don't -- I used to think the same thing till I realised I was one of them -- it's actually so frustrating. You can only converse with people in shallow terms on shallow subjects. As soon as you try to steer the conversation to something that actually does interest you, challenge you intellectually, they check out and tell you you're getting 'too personal.' It's like how a mother feels when they're cooped up in the house or the car with their two-year-old all day long -- it's like you can feel your brain atrophy because of the lack of conversational/intellectual stimulation. Except I experience this adult-in-a-room-of-two-year-olds phenomenon indefinitely -- the only person who seemed to 'get' what I see died three and a half years ago.

It's not something to brag about. It's more of a curse. (Yes, I do realise how cliché that sounds, but it's an accurate description.) It's like I'm doomed to forever be misunderstood and patronised. I've written before on how I often feel the weight of other people's pain and concerns -- things that don't bother my life but weigh on them -- so heavily that often I physically can't breathe.

Every so often, usually at a time when the weight seems heavier than normal, I'll ask God, 'why me?' Why did He choose me to be one of the misunderstood, one of the special ones? Must I be alone in this heavy calling to see so much -- and be completely unable to do anything with that information?

(Spoilers ahead.)

There's a scene in Perelandra in which Dr Ransom grapples with the same question -- why must he fight the spirit that threatens the planet's sacred, fragile innocence? Why not Maleldil? Why not anybody else? Why him? He's nothing special. And I recognised, on a gut level, all those questions because I have asked them myself. Why me? Why am I the one chosen for such a lonely life? Why must I be so completely and incredibly alone, in every possible sense of the word?

This, naturally, turned my thoughts to my own half-finished novel Kyrie. The main characters touch on similar questions within their own experiences. Those two characters represent a friendship that I long for in real life -- that platonic intellectual thing that is completely at home and comfortable with the other person in their questions, exactly where they are at, engaging with them but not lecturing. The entire novel is basically me laying out the kind of friendship I long for in real life but -- I'm realising -- may never actually have again. It's the relationship Ransom has with the Green Lady of Perelandra -- intellectual and innocent.

This further turned my thoughts to a specific friendship I'm in -- one that I hoped would turn into 'something more,' as people like to put it, but so far has not. Yet we somehow have remained good friends. This person has seen me at some of my most broken and vulnerable moments and was content to simply exist alongside me in those times, without lecturing or proselytising, just existing and listening (exactly the thing I need that apparently seems to elude everyone else despite my detailed explanations that this is the thing I want to you to do if I'm struggling). Lately I've been wondering if this is, in fact, that deep comfortable companionship I've been longing for. Perhaps we have been denied romance because romance would cheapen (or needlessly complicate) what we have. I have been trying to be more content with our relationship as it currently is -- not focusing on what I want it to be. In the words of the Lady, "The fruit we are eating is always the best fruit of all."

And there's the other question: am I alone?

In that same scene, Ransom eventually hears from the darkness what he must do and despite his fear, he knows (somehow beyond explanation, but I 'get' it because I've experienced that deep certainty myself at times) that he will succeed in his task. It's no secret that the voice out of the darkness is Maleldil, and it's also no secret in the novel who Maleldil represents.

Something in me still doesn't want this answer to be enough (a held-over scar from the Year of Hell), but it's a question I can't not even consider.

(Possibly more thoughts to come as I finish the story.)


REFERENCES
Buechner, Frederick, The Clown in the Belfry, 1992.

13 July 2018

Music Day - Sound Of Waves

I am seriously addicted to this song right now.

It rocks, it's fun, it's catchy, it's insanely danceable, and if that high harmony in the chorus doesn't carry you up into the stratosphere I really don't know what will.

It has kind of an Ultravox vibe actually, so if that's your thing, you definitely want to hear this song (personally I'm into Ultravox mostly because they sound like Daniel Amos circa 1986, so there's also that connection). It makes sense though -- both Ultravox and Steve Scott hail from the UK. (The harmony also has a touch of The Choir to it... have I dropped enough names to pique your interest yet?)

Steve Scott, from what I gather (and have heard), is quite uncategorisable. His output is a mix of spoken poetry over soundscapes sampled from real life and straight-up dance-y rock songs. But so far I've noticed a common thread of the melancholy thinker -- one of those artists who sees the brilliant breathtaking details of life, but also sees how much the world falls short of what it should be.

Title: Sound Of Waves
Artist: Steve Scott
Album: Lost Horizon
Year: 1989
Label: Alternative Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.
(In researching for this post I discovered there's a seven-minute version which you can hear on YouTube.)

As for the lyrics, they have an air of Mike Roe or Terry Scott Taylor's poetry about them, on the topic of feeling alone in a world continually concerned with 'progress.' (Admittedly, the subject matter is a bit incongruent with the upbeat music, but both are enjoyable on their own merits.)

They say it's asking far too much
To talk about the personal touch
Even if it was planned in advance...

These words resonate a lot with me. As you may have gathered in reading this blog, I tend to be fairly open and honest about pretty much everything (especially my feelings, depression, and the frustration of living in a world that's got its priorities messed up), and in recent years I've heard several people accuse me of being 'too personal' (which I don't understand, because if I'm sharing something from my life, of my own free will, who are you to determine it's 'too personal'? If I'm okay with talking about my own feelings, who are you to tell me that I shouldn't be comfortable with talking about my own life? How can you justifiably censor my life? It's not yours to censor. Anyway, stopping the rant now before it gets too out of hand...).
'Planned in advance?' Well -- as an example -- even at things like small-group Bible studies, where you're supposed to be able to 'share your struggles,' there are unspoken limits on what can and cannot be said. There's an unwritten list of 'acceptable sins to confess' (the more vague, the better) and if you dare step off that list and confess a genuine struggle with an actual sin (or, God forbid, actual pain), you'll be shunned.

And as a result, we are left alone -- each one an island unto himself. To struggle, alienated from fellow humans for... how long?

But right now the only thing I hear is the sound of waves
Crashing all around me where I stand
But right now the only thing I hear is the sound of waves
Now that you have found me, take my hand...