In line with my article, Mary Did You Know, I can recall my earliest memories of both my mania and darkness fairly early on. If I had to put an age on it, my best guess is age 4. By age 9, aside from my own biological mental challenges I had been witness to a divorce, the absence of a father, financial destruction, and the fact that my mother would rarely be present as she took on numerous jobs to try and make ends meet. My brother and I frequently relied on bread and sugar sandwiches to fill our empty bellies. I even recall one teenage babysitter would bring her own food, then eat it in front of us as we watched on like dogs begging at the dinner table. Swallowing heavy with increased salivation in the mere sight of something like fresh vegetables. We were like Pavlov’s dogs. Only our bell was just the sight of food.
The first song to make a presence in my life, to draw me in, bring me to tears, and hold on to me for dear life as I memorized and belted out every lyric in time with the singer, was Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart. This may seem like an unusual song to appeal to a nine-year-old, but unbeknownst to me, it spoke volumes to my current mental state. First, the lyrics,
Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you’re never coming round
Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears
And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you only hold me tight
We’ll be holding on forever
And we’ll only be making it right
Lyrically it makes sense, I was all too aware of a new darkness and hardened life. If I look deeper, who was the YOU, in I need you tonight? I was too young to really think of the love to another in the same capacity Bonnie did as she sang this to her lover. Maybe this was an inadvertent plea to God. Maybe God gave me this song to hold on to. All I knew, is someday the YOU in that song would make an appearance and He was going to bring me out of my darkness, show me something brighter than where I was in that moment. And every time I was down, I played that song as a reminder that my I would eventually come.
Various other songs spoke to me and came and went, but only a select few stayed with me permanently held captive in my mind. The next song to draw me in and stay wouldn’t come to me until I was in my 30’s. This song shook me, woke me up, and played a significant role in how I managed my future manic episodes. Initially, I was drawn to this singers mainstream song a year prior, months later and now completely entrenched in a bipolar mania, I was driving down the road to my home where my husband at the time and children awaited me. At this point, every manic episode was dictated by one destructive behavior after another. The consequences were always severe and life-altering. I had no control over where the monster in my head lead me. Until the song The Reason by Lacey Sturm. First, as someone who was raised Jew”ish”, it was quite interesting this song was not only biblically based but Christian. The lyrics hit me as if God’s mighty hand struck me directly on my face at that very moment. It not only woke me from my mentally induced ignorance but physically shook me from my manic state right then and there.
These lyrics hit me first,
All my life I’ve searched
The longing in my heart
And every time I’d come away…
Emptier than before…
I’d spent my days giving my heart away
To anything new
Only to ache from the poison
Of my temporary muse
And there were times I’d cry myself to sleep at night
Only to wake up, wishing that I didn’t
Here is why this was so significant. Seduced by my mania, I was commonly plagued by hypersexuality laced with deep-rooted insecurity. My lovers’ weren’t just about the desire for attention or to fill a void, they were passionate, intense, dramatic, and unpredictable with emotion. They were a reflection of my mania and torn apart by my crashes. Highly sexualized, emotionally and heavily entrenched in ups and downs. I would drag each lover through a myriad of drunken rages, intense adoration, occasional weakness, then bouts of independence and emotional distance. They were my puppets, their strings frantically whipping them about in an effort to keep up with the many faces of me. When they ended it was as if my heart was ripped out, I was rejected and highly volatile. Those lyrics, always emptier than before, giving my heart away to anything new, a temporary muse, then crying myself to sleep at night, and wishing that I hadn’t. Not just a slap in my face, but a punch to my gut. I felt physically nauseous then sobbed uncontrollably. This song was meant to me, my hearing it was incredibly intentional. From that moment on, I never compromised my moral compass for anyone. It gets better, she sings
You formed my heart with your own hands
But I just could not understand
If I gave you my life
I’d be healed by your grace
I was made, for your love
And gave others your place
Thank you for never giving up, on me
When I looked to everything else
And lived, so selfishly
You bled, you died
To be with me
Why would you do
Something like that?
For someone like me?
And now I finally see The Reason
‘Cause I was made to be yours alone
This stuck with me, I heard it, but I only focused on relating this to God because I was not ready to hear of Jesus. I stamped out the, You bled, You died part and honed in on the rest. Even given that, this was directly placed in my life in the most poignant moment to hold such a powerful life-altering effect on me. This was, for lack of a better word, HUGE. This began my search for God and Christ, albeit, in baby steps, it was the beginning of something far more important to come, at the right time, by Gods plan. God was speaking far louder than the interrupted transfer of neurotransmitter messages in my brain. I heard him through the monsters chaos because he was no match for God.
There has not been a more powerful message in music than those two songs, always popping up in my brain at just the right moment, but there were certainly other times when a song struck me, placed in my life intentionally. For anyone who has survived, thought about, obsessed about, or known someone who succumbed to suicide is brought to tears every time you hear Logic’s 1-800-273-8255, I know I do. Another obvious moment God spoke to me in music was December 15th, 2016 the night before my pastor, his wife, and God I accepted Jesus into my life. As I explain in my article, The Zobrist Effect, leading up to that moment merely saying the name Jesus made me uncomfortable. I was raised in a way that as a Jew there were constant eye rolls, shoulder snubs, and heavy sighs when the name Jesus was mentioned in our presence. Typically under the pretense of some religious debate. I cringed every time I saw one of those little red buttons with bold white letters, Jesus Loves You. God knows this, and in pure delight of my transformation, and in God fashion, I left their home that night, turned on KLOVE and the song, Just Say Jesus by 7enth Time Down was playing.
When you don’t know what to say
Just Say Jesus
There is power in the name
The Name of Jesus
If the words won’t come
Cause you’re to afraid to pray
Just Say Jesus
And who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Listen to the music, know when you are being spoken to through song. Think about it, where has God spoken to you in lyrical verse? I bet it’s more than you realized so take this moment to reflect on those songs that impacted your life, dissect what you are supposed to learn from it. Now, put those headphones on, clear off your desk, and grab that journal!
Proverbs 3:6 Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.