Tales from the Gig: A Songwriter's Revenge
Trigger Warning: Assault - details kept to a minimum
I'll be blunt, yesterday sucked. First and foremost, I received some not so great news about a family member's health diagnosis. That basically led to me having an all day migraine, but I'm an adult and I had shit to do, so I proceeded with my day as normal. Part of that day included one of my restaurant gigs. Luckily I really enjoy playing at this particular venue so it wasn't the worst thing in the world. If anything, I anticipated some well deserved musical therapy and yummy Italian comfort food.
However, life decided that it had one more curveball to throw at me. It wasn't the worst curveball that could have taken place, but slightly uncomfortable nonetheless. I could've let it be a bother, but in the sheer spirit of "screw it" - I decided to have some fun with it instead. (Photo: Rebecca Knowlton)
A SONGWRITER'S REVENGE:
Step 1: Set up for your gig, begin playing, and notice your ex boyfriend's parents sitting right in front of you... particularly, the ex-boyfriend who physically and sexually assaulted you at a young age.
Step 2: Freak out for half a second, then let your inner superhero take over. Introduce yourself to the crowd, with a special emphasis on your name and where you're from. Watch them immediately give each other THAT glance. You know the glance. The "oh shit" glance.
Step 3: Perform your set as you normally would... and then out of nowhere, throw in a special little gem written about your journey of healing from the various things their son put you through.
Step 4: Watch them immediately realize what the song is about, swallow the rest of their drinks and leave the restaurant as fast as humanly possible.
Step 5: Feel an amazing combination of healing, strength, validation, catharsis and healthy revenge. Some things are worth so much more than money.
I wasn't even fully sure what I was doing throughout this entire process. Quite honestly, I thought I was going to chicken out and choose not to play the song in front of them. But I didn't, and although I was oddly calm and comfortable the whole time, it was probably one of the most vividly emotional performances of that song I've ever given. (Photo: Lane Niehus)
What boggles my mind the most, is that I didn't have to say a word. I didn't make a snarky comment about the song's meaning. I didn't even announce the title, or that I was going to be performing an original song. They heard the words I was singing, and their facial expressions said it all - they got it.
When these events took place back in my sophomore year of high school, I told my brother and a few friends, but I never told my parents, teachers, or anyone else in a position of authority who could have helped me. I won't go into too many details, but due to some other past events in my life, I was very afraid of people not believing me, which led to me choosing to keep this to myself. Silence appeared to be the better option over rejection. (Spoiler alert: It wasn't.) However, a friend of mine had told this ex-boyfriend's sister what went down, and she went to their parents about it.... and sure enough, they tried to dismiss the situation entirely. Which surprisingly didn't bother me too much since I had been anticipating that anyway.
Life has a funny way of having your back though - because 9 years after it happened, and 8 years after they dismissed what had happened - I got to look my assailant's parents dead in the eye, and through my preferred form of expression, without actually speaking a word, I got to telepathically tell them - "You didn't believe me, and that's not okay, but despite everything he did to me, I'm okay."
This is A Bridge Better Burned, a song about the turning point of changing your mindset from victim ---> survivor when healing from traumatic experiences. If you've heard it, I hope it has resonated with you as more than just a typical "breakup song." If you haven't, I hope you enjoy.