Sonic Snapshot: “Dug my way out, blood and fire…”

The new Pink video, Fuckin’ Perfect, is out today, and I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite of hers, hands down, without question.

It’s not just the song, which so powerfully describes the isolation and self-loathing that troubled teens (and adults) combat, often silently, while struggling to fit in and be what society expects of them.  Pink has always had a way of cutting to the depths of depression and inner fears, giving voice to every girl who, like her, has been through an emotional wringer, and this song’s no exception in that regard.  I personally feel that she’s vastly underrated as a songwriter, and it’s a goddamn shame.  It’s also the video, which I’m sure will garner a lot of feedback and flack from those who’d rather wear blinders and make believe that bad things simply don’t happen.  But they do happen – the increasing number of gay teen suicides is but one symptom of the problem. These problems aren’t new, either; they’ve always been there.  The voices were simply muted, silently screaming in blood or drugs or quiet sorrow.

Always second guessing
Look I’m still around…”

I was one of the silent ones.  For a decade, I struggled with the pressure cooker of undiagnosed mood disorder and anxiety, coupled with living in the daily hell of an abusive home.  I suppressed everything that hurt me, each horrible moment, until it would burst free.  It began as a nervous habit of scratching my scalp ’til it bled with my left hand, my right scribbling away at my homework.  School was my ticket to freedom, the dream of going away to university the one lifeline I clung to in desperation.  That habit evolved into banging my head off walls, lockers, doors… But none of this seemed unusual to me.  Just blowing off a little steam.

I was in denial.

“You’re so mean
When you talk
About yourself…”

I turned 16 and imploded.  I began to bleed out the pain, because nothing else worked.  I couldn’t give in; I had to make it to university.  I had to survive.  I had to get straight As, and hope that someone would finally say they were proud.  I had to shut off the voices screaming in my head, telling me I was fat, a bitch, worthless, useless.  Nudge the valve, release a little steam.  I was still not diagnosed.  I believed I was simply defective, that I should have been returned at birth.

Later, I would understand it was genetic inheritance.  Thanks, mother.  The abuse wasn’t enough?

For six years, I tore my body apart in every way, trying to somehow unearth a new me, someone I could love – someone that anyone would love.  Someone worthy.  I went to classes, silently ignoring the agonizing pain of the damage done, some of it permanent.  I went to classes hungry, if my mother’s voice called me fat.  I went to classes and earned my As and my degree, but I still wasn’t perfect.

“Look how we all make it
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game…”

A woman I once knew once said, “My blood is my story; I’m just trying to get it all down.”  I understood that.  Hidden away to this day are the stories of my battle back from the brink.  To see me, you’d never know the truth.  You’d never know the wars I’ve fought, and mostly won.  This isn’t a matter of shame; I was simply a ninja, for all intents and purposes.  You see, self-injury isn’t some tactic wielded by attention-getting teens; some of us escape detection for years.  And if they do entice your intention with injuring themselves?  Give it.  No one does this for fun, even if they claim that’s all it was. To physically harm yourself – to inflict burns and cuts to your body, or intentionally leaves bruises – takes a certain level of self-loathing and pain.

This is the price of a society that demands impossible perfection from the moment we are born; we, as a society, must heal the damage done.

It starts with this:  a song.  If you’ve stumbled here somehow, play it.  Play it again and again.  Listen.  And then, listen to me:  you are fucking perfect, just as you are.  You don’t need to hurt yourself.  You don’t deserve to be dead, even though I know it often feels so suffocating, you wish you were.  Like Pink says in her blog on this video, I see you, and I have been you.  I am telling you that it’s hard, but it’s worth it.  You’re worth it.  I promise.

I still dislike myself some days.  I still find faults.  I’m not going to pretend that life is now a perfect fairytale, a whimsical happy ever after where I am a supermodel with a hot, rich husband.  One of the best quotes from The Princess Bride is, “Life is pain, highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something.”  But life is perfect in its imperfections, and in that frame of mind, I am perfectly imperfect – and quite fine with that.

If you’re struggling with these issues, please, look up a local crisis line or service (Canadians can call Kids Help Phone or go to their website for online support).  Speak up, reach out.  You are far from alone.

And yes, you are fuckin’ perfect.

“Pretty, pretty please
Dont you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than
Fucking perfect

Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like you’re nothing
You’re fucking perfect to me…”

Fuckin’ Perfect – Pink