On Losing Music

One thing I know is this: I really, really can't not write. Which is to say: when I don't write (or, perhaps more accurately, when I go for too long without writing), depression and anxiety flare up. I am irrationally angry about everything. Or irrationally sad about everything else.

There are some people who need to be onstage, and there are some people who need to play basketball, and there are some people who need to travel. And also, there are some people who need to write. On a very deep and visceral level, the kind that means that their DNA is woven into ampersands instead of double helixes.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is probably a very good thing to have something to latch onto, something that cannot be taken away from me.

One thing I did not previously know is this: I really, really can't not play music.

This presents an issue, because with the current hyperacusis situation, I cannot play music.

Four months ago I stopped playing the piano. A month after that I stopped playing the guitar. Not by choice, certainly - but rather, by admission of defeat. It is possibly one of the worst things in the world to be a musician with broken ears: not necessarily because she cannot hear music, but because she can hear it too well.

I must admit that, for the past few months, the absence of piano and guitar have not been such huge darknesses in my life. After all, it's not as if I can't listen to recorded music - because it is not the sound itself that bothers me, but rather something in the act of producing it that triggers the hearing sensitivity.

But a few days ago I went to an acoustic session at a bookstore, which was otherwise breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect end to a long week, and then I came home and curled up in bed and cried for too many hours.

I feel like there is a hole in me that has existed for a very long time, but which I only discovered now when I somehow poked it and found whistling emptiness. There is something about hearing other people play - something about seeing what I can't do anymore right in front of me - that is so very painful.

I want music back. I want it back so badly I feel like my bones are going to crumble from the weight of it.

And now I can't stop staring at my guitar, and at the piano, and perhaps if I want it badly enough the hyperacusis will somehow magically vanish and everything will be okay again.

(That is probably a somewhat childish belief. But currently, I am really struggling to find things to believe in, and so this will have to do.)

I think it is a rather cruel irony that the moment I discover what should be a good thing - that is, I really, really, can't not play music - it turns into a horrible thing. Nobody invited hyperacusis to the party, but it is here regardless, and there is nothing much I can do about it.

I have not talked about this because it is a difficult thing to talk about. And because it makes me sad to do so. And also ashamed, and also disappointed, and also frustrated with myself and with life.

I don't remember where I heard it, but something that has always rung very true to me is this: you have to do the verb before you can be the noun.

So how on earth can I call myself a musician if I can't play music?

And, more importantly: how am I meant to function when there is music everywhere, in the smallest crannies of life, whispering and booming, when the universe is truly constructed of songs that I have such a hunger to consume - but when I've been cut off from creating music of my own?

Writing is something that can't be taken away from me, no matter what - and please don't think that I am not grateful for it, because it has saved me in so many ways.

But words are not enough. And they have never been enough. And without music, there is some part of me that is disappearing slowly but surely, and I don't know how to bring it back.