The night I wrote Submissive Soldier, I was with my best friends at UT Austin. We had all come out to stay with our best friend Kat for a weekend because we love each other and honestly those girls are still my ride or dies. My best friend Hannah and I did the drive back to Dallas together, and we listened to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album the whole way because it had just come out and Taylor Swift is amazing. It had been raining all weekend, and the sky was finally starting to relent little by little as we drove the 3 and a half hour drive back home.
After I had written that song, it was like I was in the calm after the storm. My emotions had been building and building and they finally erupted into a tsunami, and on the drive home I finally felt peace. It was painful, still, but i didn’t have anxiety over what was going to happen. It was a good feeling. In a way, I was happy.
There’s a few reasons that I was happy, even though I would never tell anyone. My whole life, (whether it be family members, church members, people that worked for my dad, friends, relationships etc.) I have seen a large amount of people just disappear out of my life for whatever reason. As a kid, people don’t really think about how adult situations and complications effect you. But I’ve always loved people. I quickly grow attached to those who keep reappearing in my life, and due to being surprised over and over by people just not being there anymore, I began to be more observant of people and how they acted, recognizing patterns and predicting behavior. This way, I would be able to prepare my heart for how they would exit my life.
For some reason, this translated into my romantic life as me predicting how something would end and then trying to expedite it so I could go ahead and deal with the aftermath. Efficiency, I love efficiency. I guess when my heart was involved it sent those tendencies I had developed into a much more anxious state, because people I do life with contribute to my heart, but when I’m going into a relationship, I’m giving someone my heart. It’s much more intense, much more dangerous and scary. I loved Ty so much that I would occasionally try to expedite our ending and then realize that I couldn’t let him go, and that there was so much more we had to find in each other. But that didn’t mean the anxiety went away. I struggled with myself for months, wanting to quit but knowing I couldn’t walk away. It built up a mountain of anxiety; it was bondage. When he told me it was the end, that mountain exploded into a volcano, and I could finally see the ending. Prior to that, our ending was unpredictable to me. It was a fog. A terrifying fog that I was almost certain held the final straw in my capacity to love at all. Every time my heart is broken, I’m afraid I won’t love again. But that has never been the case. The point of this series is to explain why.
That particular time that we ended our relationship, it brought silence; peace. I finally knew how it was going to end and I could deal with the aftermath. I had a journey in front of me and there wasn’t anyone else coming with me. No one I had to explain anything to anymore. No one I had to share decisions with. I was my only responsibility; me and my heart. I didn’t know that was why I felt peace at the time, but I do now. It was a puzzle piece in the grander portrait of figuring out independence, it was a step towards calling out ALL of the strength in me. A strength that at this point in my life has reached a magnitude that I didn’t know was in me, but it always has been. Being broken pulled out strength as I needed it, as if the puzzle pieces of my strength each had a destiny; a specific situation that they were meant for.
In addition to what I see in the situation NOW, though, I was still only 18. I didn’t know what the future held and when your car has a rear view mirror, you can still see the road you’ve just passed over for miles. What I mean is, I still had questions, which I feel like is normal. This type of heartbreak is a little like death in the sense that you always think it can’t happen to you. It’s always unexpected, even when you expect it. Even if you see it coming, when it shows up it’ll look different than you thought it would. When it happens, questions are insatiable. Answers rarely bring peace in hopelessness, but we’re still desperate enough to seek the impossibility of changing something that’s already happened by asking for an explanation. It accomplishes nothing. But that didn’t stop me from thinking it would.
A few days later, I asked him something that most people would rather not know. But I had to.
It came out like, “did you ever love me?”
“Almost.” My heart sank into my gut as I tried to convince myself that I had fabricated our relationship. I tried to tell myself that it was all in my head and that he didn’t love me like what I saw in his eyes. But then I remembered something. There was a night when he and I were at rehearsal late, and we sat in the back together (since no one really needed us for anything) and he suggested after an exchange of playful banter that I divorce him (we doubled as Dorothy’s aunt and uncle) and go marry someone else.
I stopped and looked in his eyes, “I don’t want anyone else.”
He paused, looked down, and then back up at me, “I don’t either.”
“Almost” wasn’t true. I knew he loved me, even if he was hurt and didn’t want to give me that. That night, I wrote the follow up song to Submissive Soldier. It was the anger that followed the timidity of my pain. It was called High Horse.
You know we’d both like to forget
you’re not the only one who was forever scarred by this
but then it played back in my head
the time that we both said we’d never want anyone else
so take it back
take back the almost
’cause that will never be enough to let us go
let me go
Or you can sit there on your High Horse
and say it wasn’t real
you can say I’ve lost my mind
Go and tell them that you never even
thought of love
and even I’d like to believe you
I was there.
The night I showed him that song, Ty almost kissed me. It was one in a series of almosts with a boy that I loved for 3 years.
Check tomorrow’s post for the High Horse chorus, and read Ty (Pt. 3) next week, as I share the journey that led me to uncover my strength to date. Thanks for all the support and love from all of you.