This past week I worked a lot on A Bionic Holiday Ballad. I wrote another song called Bring on the Darkness that our protagonist/antagonist, Elanor Sharpe sings as they stroll home from their bionics workshop late on the Holiday Eve. It's interesting experience writing songs for a character because you have to really get inside their head and write their entire life story before you can even write their words that they sing. I've based Elanor's character on a cross between Ebenzar Scrooge and myself. When writing the song Bring On The Darkness I have to ask myself:
What has gotten them to this point that they are most comfortable alone and in the dark?
Why are they uncomfortable in the light and around other people?
Did they have a traumatic experience and what was it?
These questions are answered in the story itself. There are parallels between characters in Elanor's past and mine. In my own experience of socially isolating myself, I know it's because I'm afraid of rejection. For an introvert like myself it takes a great deal of energy to come out of my shell and put myself out there. I'm not talking about performing in front of an audience. What I'm talking about is the emotional labor and vulnerability required to genuinely form a connection with another human. When you put yourself out there but the other party doesn't reciprocate or flat out rejects you it feels like a lot of time and energy wasted. Our character Elanor and myself are efficient people by nature and don't like to waste their time and energy.
In the story, Elanor has suffered a series losses that has devasted them to the point that they've forgotten how to be human. They've shut down emotionally and are focused solely on their work. This is a parallel in my own life as well. One of the ways I'm working through my workaholism issues and regaining my humanity is by writing this story, but it has thrust me into this weird place where I'm being haunted in my dreams by the ghosts of my past.
The other night I had a dream about my first love. She and I were inseparable. For years we spent almost every day together and I trusted her with my life and I would have given mine up for hers. She was everything to me. She taught me how to see the humor in the everday. She affirmed my intelligence, talents and would tell me everyday that she loved me.
Then on day, she rejected me for religious reasons. Yup. You read that right...religious reasons. She and I both grew up in a rather oppressive and super conservative religious culture. As you know I'm not a super dogmatic conservative religious person, but at some point she decided to return to her religious upbringing, and that involved purging her life of things she felt weren't in line with those beliefs. Apparently having me in her life was one of those things.
In my dream the other night I re-lived the rejection over and over and over again. I woke up feeling incredibly wounded. I hadn't thought about her rejecting me for a very long time, and re-living it in a dream really sucked, but you know what was absent? The anger. I'm no longer angry about the rejection. I don't take it personally because it wasn't her rejecting me as a person. It was her choosing a different path that I couldn't travel alongside her. I'm still sad, but it's not because of the rejection. It's because I still love her and I know I'll never get to spend time with her again. It's the loss that hurts because I'm still in love with a ghost.