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Bird Set Free

July 5, 2018

Today I sat in my car, listened to this song, and choked back tears.

 

“Clipped wings, I was a broken thing
Had a voice, had a voice but I could not sing
You would wind me down
I struggled on the ground, oh


So lost, the line had been crossed
Had a voice, had a voice but I could not talk
You held me down
I struggle to fly now, oh”

 

I was in an abusive relationship for three years. I lost myself in a way that is unfathomable to me now. I did things that I can’t comprehend doing now. I allowed things to happen to me that I would never stand for now. Forget the guy. The lack of self-respect, self-trust, and self-love I had is breathtakingly sad. 

 

“But there's a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, we cannot deny
Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive, oh
Yes, there's a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, but I don't wanna die, no
I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die, yeah

 

And I don't care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I shout it out like a bird set free
No, I don't care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I'll shout it out like a bird set free”

 

That I can write these words and have this perspective is a good thing. It means I’ve faced that part of my life, come out on the other side, come out stronger. It means I’m fine, I’m healed, I’m over it, it’s done. But then the right song comes on, the trauma comes back, and I’m back in that place.

 

“Now I fly, hit the high notes
I have a voice, have a voice, hear me roar tonight
You held me down
But I fought back loud, oh

 

There's a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, we cannot deny
Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive, oh
Yes, there's a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, but I don't wanna die, no
I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die, yeah”

 

The thing is, you don’t need someone’s hands around your neck to feel the words choked out of you. You don’t need someone calling you crazy or a bitch to your face to believe it on the inside. You don’t need someone trying to possess your every thought and belief and action for you to stay back, stay quiet, stay pleasing.

 

I feel this pressure from society, from socialization, from myself—this ambition and relentless need for productivity that is not just mine but is the cumulative result of my social saturation over the years. And while on the one hand I feel powerful, in control, even a badass at times with what I know I’m capable of accomplishing, I’m also often exhausted on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level, drained from chasing the approval of an abusive culture and an inner critic that says its never enough.

 

So I have to question it every once in awhile. I’ll feel this disbelief, like, Is this really my life? Is this it? Is this how I want to be? I’ll feel this desperation to claim my life again, my right to live it how I want to live it, the way that is true for me to live it. I’ll feel this drive to rage, cry, break something like the expectations I’ve inherited and the limitations I’ve allowed placed on my person.

 

“And I don't care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I shout it out like a bird set free


No, I don't care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I'll shout it out like a bird set free
I'll shout it out like a bird set free
I'll shout it out like a bird set free
I'll shout it out like a bird set free
I'll shout it out like a bird set free
I'll shout it out like a bird set free”

 

Do I sound emotionally fragile or tormented? Crazy? I promise you, I’ve been there before. But here I’m at my sanest. The ability to feel fully and move on, to question and then decide, to discern between reality and the illusions a society puts up before you–those are the marks of sanity. 

 

They’re the marks of freedom, too.

 

Lyrics are from Sia’s “Bird Set Free”

 

 

 

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