Between the time I opened this blog to write and the time I started typing these words, I stripped the bed, did two loads of laundry, stuffed a chicken, took the garbage out, cleaned the kitchen and made dip from scratch in my thermomix. It’s no secret that I procrastinate these days when it comes to writing, and while the reasons are vast and varied, it really needs to change.
The truth is, I’m terrified. Terrified that I’m not good enough, afraid to be honest, terrified of falling into a pit so deep I won’t be able to pull myself back out. I’m afraid that I’ve lost whatever ability I had before to write music that is real, music that moves people; through the valleys and out the other side.
This year, 2012 has been one where my worst fears and wildest dreams all came true. I lost my brother, my hero, my role model, my recording engineer, my producer and one of the greatest sources of inspiration to cancer on January 2nd. Kristian was, to me, an example of how being exactly who you are can change the world in the most amazing ways. If you don’t believe me, or you don’t understand how Kris changed the world, google ‘Kristian Anderson Video’ and sit back and be amazed.
Losing Kristian meant losing all of the things I have mentioned above, but most importantly, it meant losing my big brother, who was the reason I pursued my dreams of songwriting and left the sleepy town of Perth for the bright lights of Sydney. And with my loss went my confidence, my drive, my willingness to open that door of vulnerable honesty for others to see.
Around the time of Kristian’s death, something in me shut down. The part of me that processes emotion through music – the part of me that trusts the healing power of it – the part of me that could bear to feel the things required to produce real art. I’d be lying if I said it was solely due to Kristian’s passing, the shutting down process had been taking place for many years where I let myself believe the doubt in me, where i listened to the voices around me telling me that who I was and how I’m wired were wrong. But I didn’t give up completely.
A project began in me around this time, which was a journal of sorts, entitled “And Then The Winter Came”, and in this book I allowed myself very rarely and very cautiously, to be honest with myself about my fears, to feel the flood of anxiety that came every week, or each time I would look at my dusty piano. I secretly and slowly started chipping away at the ice that had formed around my tired, overwhelmed heart in some attempt to keep being me despite how weary I had become.
I stayed strong on the outside – I went to work every day and put on the brave face required to keep participating in society. I held my family tightly and did my best to be there for them, even though it meant a lot of pushing my own feelings down – just keep everyone together – just keep all the balls in the air and one day it won’t suck so much. But in doing this, I was sabotaging myself and my identity, and now I begin the real struggle of fighting inch by inch to regain who I once was; who my brother knew I could be.
I also married my best friend on 11.11.12, and this was the ‘wildest dreams coming true’ part of 2012. Our wedding day was everything I could have ever hoped it to be and so much more, we were surrounded by the people who love us and have been there for us each step of the journey, and even without Kristian there to roll his eyes at the amount of kissing we did, we enjoyed it immensely. My heart hadn’t felt that much joy for a long time, and I am thankful.
Now as the end of 2012 draws near and I fight to keep my head above water financially with no job and plenty of debt, I realize the deep fulfillment that is to be found in doing a job that gives you meaning – doing something that taps into your deepest values and beliefs – doing something that makes you tick. And though not everyone is blessed to be able to do what they love for a paying job, I recognize the important place of once again being exactly who I am and tuning out the other voices that tell me to be someone else.
So while this winter has lasted much, much longer than my heart thought it could bear, I am hopeful. Hopeful that 2013 will be different, that by being true to who I am and what makes me tick, that I will find some peace and fulfillment amongst the storm, that I will find the courage to write again, to be vulnerable and to become a good struggler, because the alternative is just not an option.
One of my fondest memories with my brother was a phone call we had after a disagreement, where he told me that he believed that I could be great. That my writing was a mark of greatness. That I was destined to be great.
Everybody needs to hear that once in a lifetime, and I’m blessed to have had a brother who in large part, paved a very smooth path for my future.