Home > Blogging, Idealist, Love, Music > Sharing Demons

Sharing Demons

I like to listen more than I like to watch, much to my movie-loving husband’s chagrin.

Even so, when a friend told me I’d love the music video for Imagine Dragons’ “Demons,” I was willing to give watching it a shot. Why was she convinced I would love it so–not only the song, but the story the band chose to tell with it?

If they were around when I was 14, I would've been doomed. Much as I tried to put on a tough exterior, my classroom doodles revealed the truth!

If they were around when I was 14, I would’ve been doomed. Much as I tried to put on a tough exterior, my classroom doodles revealed the truth!

My friend was right. I loved the video. I don’t mean that the flippant way folks–myself included–sometimes say things like “I love Starbucks!” or “I love Target.” I mean I loved it in a way that rocked me to my core, filling me with a sense of connectedness to life similar to that inspired by love I feel for friends and family.

Before I began blogging, I thought only my siblings could ever understand the dark, sad places in my heart, having lived the originating experiences with me. They knew the same poverty, abandonment, abuse, bullying, and loss of a loved one to the depths of mental illness. When our mom died of cancer after a life filled with so much pain, they shared that sadness, too. We’d walked those rocky roads together, but no one else–no one–would ever understand what it was like to walk them. It was just us.

Blogging expanded my world. As I wrote about my experiences, others shared their own like experiences. I saw commonalities I’d never have seen if I’d kept my own demons hidden. I read, too, about uplifting and heartbreaking experiences totally unlike my own. With each word I read I came to understand I didn’t own statistically significant shares in suffering. Every single blogger I read–even my favorite humor bloggers!–occasionally wrote about their own sorrows and struggles in ways that expanded my understanding of life. The more I read, the more I understood that while individual circumstances vary, every single human walking this earth knows the core experiences of joy and pain. No one owns them.

In “My Blessings,” I wrote:

Life is better embraced for all it is, ups and downs, and armed with the knowledge that everyone faces her own triumphs and battles. I don’t want mine to be better or worse, bigger or smaller, more or less important. I want to recognize my own experiences and others’.

“Demons” reveals in four minutes what it took me hundreds of thousands of words of reading and writing to understand. Please watch for yourself to see what I mean. Pay special attention after the song stops. It’s then, between 3:17 and 3:25, that I am truly bowled over by the video.

Arrrgyle returned from Arrrland (photo by Dana S)

After I shaved my head for St. Baldrick’s a couple of years ago, I was stared at incessantly. I’d read enough blogs by cancer patients to know others often steer clear of them, not knowing what to say or do in the face of someone else’s incomprehensibly enormous battle. I vaguely understood my bald head might get a response, but I had no way of knowing just how strong–and isolating–that response would be. I wrote about this in “One month bald: The walls outside & the light within.”

The seconds between 3:17 and 3:25 are the opposite of disconnection, isolation, or signaling that one person’s experience is so different from another’s that the distance is unbridgeable. There’s no “better” or “worse,” no “different” or “other” in these moments, just human-mother-freakin’-connection. An embrace that reflects shared humanity, that we are all people, all connected, all in it together with so much in common at heart no matter what circumstances seem to set us apart.

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  1. March 5, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I agree – I am not one to watch music videos, but after having seen several people recommend it, i did. It was one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever seen! I hope even more people will go watch it after having read your post!

    • March 5, 2014 at 10:44 am

      I really hope so! I tried explaining the video to my husband over the weekend, then burst into tears. When I could catch my breath, I said I’d probably have to write a blog . . . and that my tears weren’t pregnancy related, this time, but inspired by how powerfully this video reflects shared humanity. I think it will be a long, long time before I’m able to watch this without tears, and that’s a good thing. ♥

  2. March 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Oh yeah, I love that song, video, and story behind it. ❤ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqwx2fAVUM0&feature=youtu.be)

    • March 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Thank you for linking that!

      You should know, Auntie Dana, that Imagine Dragons is Li’l D’s first fandom. It started with his love for “Radioactive,” but expanded with each new song he heard.

      When I played “Demons” for him, I choked up when I tried to give him context. I had to leave it at, “I have goosebumps.”

      He misunderstood. “No, Mommy, this song is beautiful!”

      “That’s what goosebumps mean! That something is so beautiful, I need more than words to show how much I love it.”

      • March 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

        He is in good company. My youngest nephew would sing the chorus randomly while we visited them in WA (“Welcome to the new age, the new age” which didn’t get on his brothers’ nerves AT ALL, hee), so technically he introduced me to Imagine Dragons!

  3. March 5, 2014 at 11:51 am

    So many things. 1) I am so glad that you’ve found this community. Not feeling alone makes such a difference in trying to get through so many of life’s tragedies. 2) I’ve never been as intrigued to watch a music video like now! 3) I love them, and they’re going to be playing a concert in a few weeks here and I was just looking at it THIS morning and wondering if I should splurge and go and I think you (and the video) may have convinced me.

    • March 6, 2014 at 5:06 am

      Oooh! Did you decide to go? I might have to stay on the lookout for them, honestly, though it might be difficult to go and not bring along the adoring four-year-old. Somehow, it seems like a few extra years might make all the difference in his concert appreciation levels. 😉

  4. March 5, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I definitely think there is something that everyone should know – that no matter what you have been through, or what you are going through – you are never alone. There are always other people out there who understand and can give support. I think the internet has made this become possible, the blogosphere etc. When you reach out – people hold out their hands to you.
    I think in terms of people avoiding cancer patients, I know that to some people they are scared, it hits home about how fragile life is and they have no idea how to engage with that – to come to terms with it. I think unless you have experienced cancer either personally or through a family member it is hard to know how to talk. Do you talk about it? Skirt around it? Be sympathetic? Act as if nothing is wrong?
    A very moving video. We lost my mother in law to cancer almost 4 years ago after a long drawn out battle with bowel cancer that had seemingly gone into remission only to find a couple of years later that she had bone cancer and by then it was too late and she declined very quickly. My father in law has recently had the all clear from Prostate Cancer – and his wife (my stepmother in law) some years ago fought breast cancer.
    Sadly my mother in law died about a year before our wedding, it was a very emotional day without her there. I hope that in years to come research will help to prevent more deaths from all types of cancer.

    • March 6, 2014 at 5:15 am

      I just read a teen fiction book with a terrible title for such a love-filled book: When Dad Killed Mom. There were a few reflections on loss that resonated with me unlike little else I’ve read. Some of these reflections had to do with exactly the idea of not knowing what to do or say when something is so outside another person’s experience.

      The timing of finding that book was perfect in light of this post and the just-prior one about granting people time and space to grieve. It’s never easy to know what to do or say in circumstances so outside our individual experiences, but there’s a certain peace in embracing the inability to know for sure rather than fighting against it as I used to.

      I understand about the wedding. I recently got married and felt raw–despite the fact it’s been years now since my mom died–that my mom wasn’t there. Yet with my godmother giving me away, I couldn’t help but feel her there in other ways. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected on account of that, but again . . . it is such a different experience for everyone.

      Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful comment!

      • March 6, 2014 at 5:30 am

        You’re very welcome.
        It was tough to support my husband through his loss because he and his family don’t believe in God or an afterlife – whereas I have been brought up with that. So wanting to say things like she is here with us wasn’t really available to me, but I felt it in my heart and I still do. Today I read through a lovely guest book my sisters in law put together for us and it was nice (and emotional) to re-read comments left by my husband’s stepfather and his uncle about how much his Mum would have loved our wedding day. It also meant a lot to us that his step cousins made it on the day as their mother had died just a week prior to our wedding, so it was a very emotional day for a lot of people.
        Loss and trauma can be very personal things, and although no-one can ever go through the exact same experiences, it can be pretty darn close and it’s never good to keep it all hidden away inside, it eats you up and it’s won.
        All the best x

  5. March 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Deborah, I love the fact that when emotion comes to you ‘need to write’. It is something that, for me, is the same. This music video is quite powerful and the lyrics really set down the difficult journeys that are confronted by many. Having the ability to write, provides for the expression of emotion and transmission of understandings. With writing and pictures for that matter, all manner of ideas and situations can be portrayed. It is in the receiving of the message that there is a completion of transmission. Of all the people that will see this video, there will be an equal number of interpretations of the message in it. The great thing of music is that whenever it is played, a tune can bring the mind into focus and rekindle old memories, be they good or bad, but writing is like a release valve to our dreams and memories. Thanks for the prompt on this it certainly has opened my mind to many things also.B

    • March 6, 2014 at 5:19 am

      It’s funny, but this is a rare case where the lyrics are subsidiary to the images for me. My perception of the images is enhanced by my feelings about the chorus, but really, it’s the images that move me here. For one more interested in listening than seeing, this is an unusual thing.

      The image-over-sound preference here is even stronger after watching the video my friend Dana linked above. It shows the total experience from that separate concert excerpted at the end of this video. Such connection! Though my eyes teared up, my heart was full watching that video. I’m glad for this rare opportunity to experience the wonder of visual media in–maybe, just maybe–a way that helps me see a little more what my husband loves about it. 🙂

      Also?

      writing is like a release valve to our dreams and memories
      Yes! I’m grateful for the valve.

      • March 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm

        What a wonderful thing music, writing and pictures. We are so fortunate to feel these things. B

  6. cardamone5
    March 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I love your post and this video, which I first saw on one of the channels my kids watch. I thought it was an opening piece for a show instead of band, but even then, I recognized the message they were trying to send: the details aren’t important, everybody struggles.

    All day I have been trying to think of a theme for the A-Z Challenge I am participating in the month of April (each day you write a post on something related to that day’s letter.) I thought my theme would be “26 ways being a mom is awesome”, but as I divided up this message by letter, I realized this is not the complete story, so I think it’ll be broader, covering parenting struggles and triumphs that hopefully everyone can relate to.

    I thank you for inadvertently helping me decide on a theme. I am getting chills right now because right before I read your post, I read another with a very similar message (like someone upstairs is trying to guide me.) In case you’re interested, here’s the link to that post: http://cristianmihai.net/2014/03/06/struggle/#more-4742.

    Best regards,
    Elizabeth

    • March 6, 2014 at 5:23 am

      Thank you for reading and sharing these thoughts! I’ve actually been thinking about opening up a little about the rougher aspects of parenting, since I tend to try emphasizing the positive here. I used to share infrequent frustrations and the takeaways from rougher moments in shorter posts on the TMiYC Facebook page, but since I’ve opted out there (which feels grand!) I’ve lost that outlet. I’ll be looking for opportunities to translate that here. Perhaps I’ll be inspired by your posts? I look forward to reading!

      • cardamone5
        March 6, 2014 at 6:43 am

        Right back at you!

  7. March 6, 2014 at 5:17 am

    I heard that song somewhere a while back and loved it, but didn’t know who performed it. Thanks for giving it back to me, the video is awesome and I love it even more now!

    • March 6, 2014 at 5:24 am

      That’s how I felt! I liked the sound of the song and would hum along before I watched the video, without really processing the words, but then . . . I watched the video and that was it! 😀

  8. March 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Oh, I love that band! And I am continually surprised by how much people have been through. I too felt I was quietly alone with my painful past. But none of us are. Just look at your blogging community.

    • March 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      I am inexpressibly grateful for this community! Sometimes I wonder if my husband feels the same, given how often my part in conversation starts with words like, “That reminds me of something I read on a blog!” I still have so much to learn, but it am learning much more quickly thanks to the openness of this community.

  9. March 7, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Thank you, through my tears, Thank You.

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