Overcoming the ballad of a bad memory

October came clawing too early one year. Plowing through purity into festering guilt, I sank into a familiar cadence with rhythms and notes that traversed the air around me. Scalding water and belligerent lights would overtake me one night and a lonely couch would cradle the next. While I was basking in a discomforting consistency, the ground beneath me grew weaker. However, I was oblivious—I just kept listening to my beautiful distraction.

While November’s nails drew blood, I entrenched myself even deeper into aberrated soliloquies. The scalding water, belligerent lights, and cradling couch cycled around me as they did, and I let myself fall for the diversion they offered. The violence of the pattern let me cling to one particular ballad—it was inapplicable, but moving nevertheless. I was deceived by its sound and it held me so, so tight. It was the hug I thought I needed.

Then December left an open wound. All the anticipation, ignorance, and undiscovered turmoil were severed in a sentence. A day or two after my pattern had imploded, an undertow pulled me from my ankles and let me in on something big. It told me that the discoloration of my doings would never let me leave this hollow feeling. My early teen years wouldn’t be seen dead in a glowing light.

January was wrapped in gauze, patched in band-aids. Recovering was hard and the song that seamlessly suited me had finally spoiled. The void that was filled by the voice that fundamentally changed me became an unpleasant reminder of my own neglect that caused the floor to cave beneath me. This one melancholic motif settled into my cavities. Its very first words sank my heart upon listening; it became an automatic reaction. Then I crossed it out for good.

I couldn’t once bring myself to listen to it without immediately prodding the molars of my deepest burden. 

February and March continued to sting, but my ailments were healing. They were misted by disingenuine smiles and a few of the rhythms that lasted through autumn. I can’t even remember much other than forbidding that one somber song about those who live without imperfection—the ones with flawless, ivory teeth.

Every fall and winter since has been defined by the ban on a particular ballad—the one associated with my loss, the empty shell of a home, and the goodbye that was never said. I couldn’t once bring myself to listen to it without immediately prodding the molars of my deepest burden. 

There was something about this specific April that made me have a change of heart. The scabs turned to scars as years passed without a note of my abandoned song, but an inexplicable motive compelled me to reopen the lyrics that I hadn’t heard in what felt like a lifetime. The first words rang and the surge of expected emotions began spilling out. Reliving the contents of autumn’s past wasn’t a walk in the park, though I could stomach it. I was even able to undergo the whole thing; it was an accomplishment of sorts. 

I’ve played it a few more times since, lifting off a couple of pounds each time it plays. I’m rehashing the meaning into something not about a period of suffering. It’s all starting to fall back into place.

Though it took a long while to overcome, reassociating its meaning has been liberating. I can’t forget what this ballad once meant, but the ground supporting my soles is starting to mend back to a solid-state—I can now walk on the sturdy pavement of a song that has done a whole lot to me.

Now, May is where I’ll officially make amends.