Guitars and Vulnerability | Teen Ink

Guitars and Vulnerability

December 15, 2021
By CallicoCorduroy BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
CallicoCorduroy BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Have you ever sat in a dark closet and cried while clutching a guitar? It’s been pretty comforting, you should try it sometime.

I don’t remember when it started but in my family, it felt embarrassing to cry with them nearby. It was the reason I once threw a paper airplane down the stairs that read: “I just need some alone time”, in second grader scrawl, only to hear a chorus of ridiculing laughter rise up from below. Okay, the paper airplane was a bit dramatic but my message was true and their laughter hurt. When I was sad about something, I’d go into the “Harry Potter” closet tucked under the stairs and strum the cool steel strings of my mom's guitar. The vibrations in the wood amplified the sound and soothing would wash over me.

As the years passed, my parents divorced-- dividing our clothes, homes, and time, it felt like there was more responsibility to be okay through it all. All the more reason to hide any feeling that wasn’t just peachy. Showing anything other than fine would seem weak and incapable. I feel like so many of my friends and other adults could be honest with their parents and not feel like a burden. Telling their parents about everything that excited them, upset them, hurt them. They asked their parents for help with their life, the deepest question I asked was: “Can I play basketball for the middle school team again?”

During the last fringe of my junior year, I was completely behind in all my classes. Covid broke me. Due to my “everything is fine'' mentality, I didn’t want to accept help from anyone. In January of that year, I reluctantly asked my mom for a therapist, my grades had hit rock bottom and I felt hopeless. My therapist was the one who suggested I tell my mom how I was feeling after the overwhelming school year and to set boundaries for myself. According to them, I am the muscle and the one who has to make it happen. Before quarantine I was used to building off of other’s energy and connecting with others, the walls of my room couldn’t fill those shoes. I know that my thoughts are the most organized in writing where I have time to think and rewrite using the tone I want to convey. When I speak it’s jumbled; words tripping on words, giving in when I need them to stand. After staring at the paragraph I had written, I hesitated for a moment before sending the text. I went to bed to rest, relief and pride a blanket wrapped over me.

In stark contrast I woke up to many long essay-like messages. Not very pleased ones either. “I don’t see you trying…” scolded against the white glow of the screen. My stomach dropped, my lungs felt tight, and my heart heavy. Being the people pleaser I was made the world feel like it was ending. I had classes that day but I wasn’t at all able to focus. My camera and mic were off but my mind and thoughts were on the world's craziest roller coaster. I felt isolated, restless, like a tornado was caged inside emotions being thrown and bashing my mind to bits. Resting my phone gingerly in my hand, I responded to my friend’s usual, “how are you?”.

I told them what happened, how I was genuinely feeling rather than the usual, “I’m good, you?”. Being able to be honest and exposed brought unusual comfort in their replies that followed. Although I thought bottling my emotions appeared stronger I was keeping myself in the dark and preventing myself from becoming stronger and willing to ask others for help in order to thrive. I’ve learned that it’s better to be vulnerable sometimes, step outside the closet and share the soothing strums of the guitar.

The author's comments:

I am a senior. I am not a star student but I am intellegent and strong. 

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