Reconcile

Sometimes I find that the fear leading up to a new experience overshadows the enjoyment contained therein. I think that’s what I’m feeling now – a couple of hours after the last song was sung on my trip to Nashville. 

But there’s something else going on here in Music City…

In addition to the travel and the writing/recording experience – themselves fairly intense and time consuming – I was shuttled around town non-stop as a passenger to my friend, Jeff’s, busy life. His teenage daughter, Samantha, was in the midst of rehearsals and a violin recital this weekend requiring quite a bit of to and fro. I forgot how busy it can be being a parent and running a career. Phew!

But there’s more. 

Perhaps more daunting and triggering was today’s brief and unexpected encounter with Lauren, Jeff’s ex-wife and Samantha’s mother at the recital.

There was nothing “wrong” about our brief meeting. Although we’ve not talked or spoken in a decade, Lauren and I smiled and hugged and made nice while the violins played in the background, Shortly, thereafter, however, a pounding headache began. I thought it was all of the high frequency sound from the violins. It was not. 

An hour has passed…

I think the pounding headache I’m just now getting over was brought on by some trauma that I felt when I was in the room with Jeff, Lauren, Samantha and Jeff’s girlfriend, Emily. It brought up old stuff about my parents, uncomfortable and unresolved feelings from the “war” their divorce and estrangement caused in my life when I was exactly Samantha’s age. It was a horrible time to be in my family even though, like Sam, I was doing my best to excel and be a good kid. When parents are at war, kids get hit by the shrapnel. 

On another level, I am also feeling sad about the intense and prolonged experience with the Veterans. Yes, it was fulfilling to make music, laugh and support them, but it was also very sad and draining, too. I heard up close stories about war and lost comrades from battles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. And then there are the friends they continue to lose to suicide. War really, really sucks and writing a song about it, though wonderful, is not a cure all. The pain endures. 

I, too, grieve a lost part of my life – all of the years my birth family has spent and continues to spend frozen in the mid 1970s when my father walked out the door and took a part of our hearts with him. 

Let’s be real. Divorce is not like losing an actual limb or watching your platoon leader die in front of you. I haven’t had to struggle with violent death on the level that these former soldiers did. But I will say this: I resonate with something in their eyes and in the way they speak. It reminds me of how I feel connected to other children of alcoholics. We’ve been through something and a part of us is still struggling to let it go. It’s the spectrum of PTSD too many of us have known when we were too young to handle it. We have endured our own battles. 

An hour later…

I just took a break from writing because my headache has finally lifted. I took a moment to explain all of this to my friend, Jeff. Instead of bottling it up inside, I spoke it aloud and felt immense relief and gratitude. He heard me.

I am like the Vets in a way I did not expect. And, like them, I will always be “in recovery” from trauma. Luckily, though, we both have comrades in arms. We can reach out and be hugged, understood and even honored for our journey. And we can and must share it. We need to speak our feelings and be heard in order to keep ourselves sane. 

Such is life. It can knock you down real hard, but as long as we stay alive we get to to love ourselves and others one more day. This is a blessing. 

Pause. 

It’s the next day, now. I’m leaving Nashville early this evening. 

I titled this post, “Reconcile,” because of a dream I had last night. In my dream, a whole bunch of people in government and in business were negotiating a new deal where everyone received huge promotions, raises and new benefits. It was a massive reorganization where everyone got exactly what they wanted. 

The two lead characters, though, didn’t want money or power. They just wanted to reconcile their differences. To them, the greatest gift was peace between them. 

Hmmm.

In this competitive and divided world we are handing to our children, the greatest gift is not getting more. It’s about stopping the war around us and inside of us. It is about building safe spaces and creating serenity every chance we get. And it begins right here, right now inside of our own hearts. We must lay down our sword, bend a knee and honor love, again. That’s the only future that matters. 

God bless us every one and please give us the gift we need – to understand and make love, not war. May reconciliation come to all who need it. May peace prevail.

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