This year through my break up and night after night sitting alone with my wine in my poky new room I have listened to one song obsessively.
‘Retrograde’ by James Blake has spoken to me in so many ways and inspired so many moods. I once joked to a friend that it is the only song in the world that can ‘make me feel every emotion, ever, simultaneously.’
It’s been my wallowing song, but also my celebratory one as a mourned my happy break up (there’s a paradox of a sentence for you). The refrain of ‘you’re alone now you’re alone now’ has been like a crystal that shines out different lights and moods every time I listen to it.
Last night, I listened to it again and heard it an entirely new light. These words for me have always been about breaking down, about the new alone world that I’d created for myself by breaking up with my partner, and the void I was filling with alcohol. But last night these words for the first time became about building myself back up:
You’re on your own, in a world you’ve grown
Few more years to go,
Don’t let the hurdle fall
So be the girl you loved,
Be the girl you loved…
So show me why you’re strong
Ignore everybody else,
Were alone now
Suddenly I’m hit!
Is this darkness of the dawn?
And your friends are gone
And your friends won’t come
So show me where you fit…
Every line took on a new significance. The world I’ve grown now, to me is the wonderful life I have when alcohol isn’t in the equation. I’m not a lonely person as I talked about last week on this blog, alcohol to me is loneliness. It makes me ‘alone in the world I’ve grown.’
And the next line…That ‘hurdle that I shouldn’t let fall’ is alcohol- when I drink, it falls, tumbles away and makes life seem easy. Until the next day. Sobriety is like constantly jumping over hurdles without ever letting them fall- it’s hard, but the more you train, the better your jumping gets, the less likely you are to tumble.
Every time I listen to it, one of the parts of song that has at times made me want to explode with emotion is the ‘suddenly I’m hit’ line, with the ominous drone of the synthesisers in the background and the echoing question, ‘is this darkness or the dawn?’ Apologies that this has become like a student’s bad poetry review, but something very special happened last night while listening to this section of the song. To me, this early stage of sobriety is like the darkness before the dawn when you’re lying awake in a state of insomnia. You know the sunrise is coming, you know you just have to wait, but you’re restless in your mind and body, simply exhausted. Meanwhile, the drone of the synthesisers rises with their ominous, alluring yet discordant sound vibrates on…
I’ve read people in the sober blogging world liken the call of alcohol to the Odyssey’s Sirens, those irresistible yet fatal women whose song lured men to shipwreck. What an accurate metaphor. In this song, those sirens almost drown out the promise of the dawn, but then fade. The parallel to my own journey at the moment hit me really powerfully because, as Belle says, everything is everything, right?
The ‘show me that you’re strong’ line will be one of my mantras and this song will be added to my sober toolkit of reflections. It’s been my soundtrack to 2013 and I hope as the year draws to a close, I’ll get closer to the dawn he sings of.