Today I’m writing about the song that gives this newsletter its title. It’s part of a new musical I’m working on, called River of Stone, about a woman’s journey from trauma to healing. The storyline is pure fiction, but the subject — the healing journey — draws much of its inspiration from my wife and creative collaborator, Talia Van-Son Melnick. Any resemblance between these characters and actual human beings is… the whole point of the show.
The song is about emancipation, but not from literal bonds. It’s a young woman’s declaration that she has set a course for liberation — of the mind, the psyche and the soul. The song starts with a backward glance to her childhood:
Childhood homes are meant to be places of love and nourishment, but they can also be ground zero for damage that we carry with us into our adult lives. The damage slips in under the radar, passing for normal, because home is what’s normal. When I was little, my mother suffered from depression but she didn’t know it. I didn’t know it, either, so at the times when she was remote and disapproving, I assumed I had done something wrong. The unexplained chill in the air cast a little cloud over my life, and for many years I had no idea it was there.
Childhood damage can be far worse than that, and far more overt, too— hateful words, toxic anger, even physical abuse — and still remain hidden in plain sight. Uncovering it is a necessity of the healing journey, and it does not come easily. The young woman in my song is still talking about her childhood when she sings:
She has one foot out the door, about to make her lunge for freedom, and no one even tries to stop her. Her heart pounding crazily, she sings:
So the young woman makes her get-away. The trouble is, you can leave home, but home never quite fully leaves you, not until you find a way to release yourself from those invisible chains. She’s made her bid for freedom, and she’s still struggling, still trying to figure it out. Way back, she absorbed a bad lesson, and she hasn’t managed to unlearn it yet. But I know this woman, know her like I know my own heart. She’s profoundly determined, and trust me, she’ll get there in the end:
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