Thursday, August 16, 2012

Music as emotional amplitude modulator

While growing up, I was forbidden to feel. Anything. If I was happy, I was emotionally trampled into the ground by NM. And she made sure I stayed there. My joy was ridiculed, my interests were laughed at, if I smiled, she mocked me and interrogated me for hours and then rained on me. Hard. If I was sad, she emotionally tortured me until the pain was unbearable. She always knew how to make me feel a lot worse than I initially did.

I developed this numb shell around me. I dread happiness, because I feel that something extremely bad will happen to me as soon as I dare to feel good. And when I am sad, if I'm really sad, I become numb and my mind literally shuts down. I don't feel, I don't think, I don't notice the world around myself, and I am literally unable to move. This was the only way I could survive my teens, when NM had these emotional torture sessions with me that lasted for 5-6 hours each. My therapist told me that it seems, that I revert to my half-one year old self.

I had maniac depression for years during my early twenties. Then another period, that ended almost a year ago now, and I barely survived it. The only thing that kept me from killing myself for almost a decade was listening to music.

I had interesting discussions about the types of music people listen to when they are down. I always felt alone with listening to deeply sad, depressing or disturbing music when I was depressed. Everyone around me listened to cheerful happy music when they were sad. For me, listening to uplifting music when I can barely stop myself from suicide is mere torture.

I never understood why I was so different from anyone else, until I have realized from the discussions on your blogs, that it might be because I was otherwise forbidden to feel. Music was the only way for me to express the feelings I couldn't. To live the feelings that I couldn't display on my face through other people's feelings, through their art.

Somehow I always feel a certain urge to listen to music that pushes my emotional amplitudes way out of the normal borders. And that is the only way I could find to survive, or to be able to function normally. So, if I feel abandoned, I listen to songs about abandonment. If I feel depressed, I listen to songs about depression. If I feel lonely, I listen to songs about loneliness. And it somehow puts everything in the right place in my head after a while. (While can equal to months sometimes, but still...)

Some people even called me a masochist for doing that. But it works for me. Even if the music is triggering, or makes my feelings stronger or more extreme, it soothes me.

I wanted to share a song with you. I have found this artist when we separated with EXNB. I believe that her songs (especially the lyrics) are ones that people with narcissistic parents or partners can deeply understand and relate to:

Unter Null - Broken Heart Cliche

Do you have the same experience/feelings with music? Listening to something that amplifies your feelings rather than listening to something that is the opposite of your feelings?

I have had a very deep connection with music for as long as I can remember. Partly this was an unfulfilled dream for my parents: NM wanted to learn to play some instrument, but since she was the scapegoat and her GC brother didn't have any talents whatsoever, NGM forbade her to do anything like that in order not to upset GCU with her talents. EF has learned to play an instrument, but for some reason he didn't continue his studies.

I was a child prodigy at a very young age, and they decided to take me to music school. I had two lives from kindergarten: the "normal" life - school, and the "music" life - the music studies. For some reason back then I was allowed tp decide what instrument to start to learn playing.

I was otherwise a social outcast. Since I didn't have any time to make friends after school (I had all these extracurricular activities that I chose for myself: playing two instruments, musical theory classes, orchestra, writing, pottery, ballet - I was 9 back then). I had an IQ a lot higher than that of my peers, and I wanted to learn everything in the world. I didn't realize that it also made it impossible to make friends. I didn't know how to do so anyway, and my parents did not warn me that having 7 separate extracurricular classes was somewhat unhealthy.

EF loved music. I grew up on Beatles, Bee Gees, Electric Light Orchesra, ABBA, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and a lot others. NM hated music, so it was not allowed around her. This resulted in me and EF growing close to each other, talking about music. And she couldn't participate. Then I slowly developed my very wide own musical taste (ranging from classical music to hardcore industrial noise), and she hated all. I introduced new bands and styles to EF and he loved them. NM claimed that we formed a secret alliance against her and were laughing at her behind her back, plotting evil plans against her.

When I reached the age of 14, I still didn't know how to make friends, and was planning to become a musician. I had to change teachers for personal reasons, and NM, using my emotional turmoil, managed to convince me to go to a "normal" highschool, where I would not become a "dumb musician and could actually make a living". But I continued my music classes along with highschool.

And now here I am, playing in a reknown classical orchestra, and leading my own rock band at my workplace. The meaning of my life. The reason for me to live. My love. My dream come true. My everything.

NM refers to these projects, especially my own, with hatred, disgust and spits venom every time I mention them. EF is proud of me and listens to every song I compose.

And when I play, those are the "true happiness and peace" moments of my life.


  1. In the face of your NM it must have taken great strength and courage to follow YOUR dream! Well done!

  2. I love music especially orchestra. I learned much later that the reason lyrics made no sense, I am partially deaf. For me it is not the lyrics but the emotional impact of the sounds and rhythms. Not learning to have friends seems to be one of the things encouraged by the parents. My mother expected me to have friends but I wasn't taught how to do this. I am learning now and it is an amazing experience. I don't think you are different at all for using music to express emotion not allowed any other way. I am cheering from behind my computer screen. Have you considered posting some of your music on YouTube or here?

  3. Hi Scatha,
    I'm with you about music and depression. I would listen to Tracy Chapman, and a lot of blues. Etta James' album, Life, Love and the Blues, was a lifesaver for me, as was her "Love's been Hard on me."
    Hardcore heavy blues made me put my own pain in some perspective. How wonderful that you've turned yourself into what you want to be despite your NM. And what a blessing it is that EF is, despite his enabling, a real father to you.

  4. Ah, scatha! Yes, I love music as well and yes, I listen to music that "amplifies" my mood-perhaps "expresses" my mood is a more apt description. There was always music playing in my house growing up. I was brought to many different venues to see some of the world's finest musicians/performers in all genres. The "numb" you describe is where we "go" when the feelings become overwhelming. What a wonderful outlet, what a phenomenal gift you have! I'm so pleased this was one area of your life in which you refused to subjugate yourself to your MNmother: She is clearly enraged you eclipsed HER, regardless of why she did not pursue her own musical ambitions even as an adult. Her profound jealousy of you will never abate, Little One, your accomplishments, your dreams/aspirations, joys and sorrows will be consistently denigrated. This is who she IS, scatha. It is NOT a reflection of you, but of her. As mulderfan said, what courage and strength you possess, and as Ruth mentioned, would you post some of your music, your playing for us?
    Thank you for the link to Unter Null-yes, how this applies, unfortunately.
    How are you managing the manic depression scatha? A decade of your life struggling with addition to dealing with the FOO. It seems you are far more resourceful, resilient than you even realize.

  5. Your story is heartbreaking and so familiar to me. I suffered from depression for 13 years, chronic, every day, started at age 13 with NM always telling me I had nothing to be depressed about. Turns out she was wrong, again. You sound like a fighter too, so glad your music has saved your soul! For me it was art, it is what makes me tick. I only wish I could have known what what going on at the age you are now, but everything in it's own Divine time, right? I had the friends issue as well. I joined a group of women who were changing up their lives for various reasons and wanted support. Little did I expect that so many of them were involved in some stage with N's in their lives, from parents to spouses and so many were artistic. They like us emotional sponge types. (musicians?) Anyway, I became immediate friends with every woman in that group! No judging, we all understood each other right away. Different from someone who came from a loving family who will never understand NC with your mother for 30 years. See if there is a in your area. I have found it to be invaluable to healing and being on the same path with other women who are positive and fighting the same battle. We go out socially all the time, so relaxing and fun, so great to have friends after 20 years of isolation and being told nobody cares what I have to say or show in my art. Screw these life sucking a-holes. Blessings to you on your journey, you sound incredibly talented and interesting. I too have always felt like an outsider, now I embrace it and people enjoy me for being me and I enjoy them.

  6. I'm a little late, catching up on all the blogs I read, but for what it is worth, I'm like that with music too. I like the way TW puts it, music that expresses my mood!

    I think it's amazing you were still able to pursue your dreams and music, despite your NM. She probably refers to it with such hate and disgust because you have something she wanted and couldn't have, and how dare you have it when she can't!

    Rock on! :)


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