How Past Trauma Affects My Pursuit Of Music

As little kids, we are full of creativity and imagination. We believe we can do anything, and be anything we want. We allow our minds to fly high and create a world where anything is possible. Eventually we grow up and most of us learn to dim the light of our creativity and imagination, in order to adapt to the real world around us.

We go to school, get jobs and if we’re lucky, some of that light remains inside us and we get to use it in our free time. The really lucky ones end up incorporating their creativity and imagination in their daily lives and even get to do it for a living. And then there are the people who, instead of having their creative light dimmed gradually by the progression of natural growth, end up having their light vigorously smashed by the baseball bat of trauma.

When I was a kid, I lived in a world of fantasy, most of the time. Was it because I had a vivid imagination or because I really didn’t want to be living through my actual reality? One may never know. Nonetheless, I sang, I danced, I read and wrote books, I performed shows and wrote songs. I embraced and loved to express my creativity through music.

My love of music started during my earliest memories on this planet, as a little kid, maybe a toddler.

That light was shining bright through most of my early life. As a pre-teen I sang in an all-adult church band, and performed in front of hundreds of people every week. There was nothing that made me happier back then. I felt good about my singing, as many people who were older and more experienced than me repeatedly complimented my talent. I believed it.

While I was being praised and celebrated in public, behind the scenes, my confidence was slowly being shattered. All it took was for one person in my life to continuously and repeatedly put me down, downgrade my talent and depreciate my worth. This person regularly expressed that all of my talents and passions were worthless, just like I was. After years of verbal and emotional abuse I cracked. I no longer felt a desire to sing, perform or play music. I would write only in secret and couldn’t imagine anyone reading it. I was regularly told nothing I did was right or good. I believed it.

After leaving that toxic environment, I was able to slowly rebuild some of my self esteem. I took up music again as a teenager. I learned to play different instruments in school and performed in band and theater. As long as I was around other kids who liked the same things as me, I was able to push myself just enough to believe I belonged there.

Making music was my absolute favorite thing about school. It was what got me out of bed each morning.

As a young adult, having to adapt to the real world I unfortunately distanced myself from musical activities and people who liked the same things I did. I still played my keyboard every few months and sang in the privacy of my shower every day, and every time I did, my heart would light up a little bit. Eventually a little voice in my head would convince me that there’s no point in singing, or playing and I would stop. My dusty keyboard would go untouched for months on end, until I felt a little spark of inspiration. That cycle would repeat itself for over ten years.

Every time I got inspired to sing or play music, it would last for a few days, until an overwhelming insecurity convinced me to give it up. It’s not just a lack of motivation or fear of not sounding good enough, it’s a deafening voice in my head that says that my talents and myself are absolutely worthless, and the idea that I would ever be capable of making or performing any type of music is completely laughable. Sometimes I still believe it.

Only recently did I start to really explore these insecurities, and realize where they come from. I’ve been inspired to take up music again and am committed to not giving up this time. I’m learning that it’s a process. Some days I’m able to tell that voice in my head to be quiet, and it’s not so bad. I’m taking it one day at a time, and setting small goals for myself with regards to music. I try and focus on the joy I feel when I’m making music and my little creative light is slowly glowing brighter and brighter.