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Monday, December 10, 2012

Guest Post: The Recovering Addict’s Playlist

Name Withheld is a prolific contributor of sad, embarrassing, and painful articles to other sources like STD Digest, Modern Train Aficionado, and Ensign. He also reports on Middle Eastern drone attacks under the name "sources who could not be identified because of the sensitivity of information," and he has written thousands of lousy poems and given hundreds of so-so paintings to museums under the names “Anonymous” and “Anonymous Donor.” As this story would hurt his wife deeply, he chooses to remain anonymous. Read his first guest post here.

So 2011 was about the worst year of my life. And it was sort of the best. I got some therapeutic help for my addiction and started participating in the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program. Though it was extraordinarily painful, I was very blessed during that process.

During that time, I created a short list of songs that I found very, very helpful. First and foremost, they are great songs, but they may also be useful to others. (Please note that these are not helpful if you are addicted to great music, in which case I suggest listening to those Barney songs; they will make you want to gouge out your ears, but you will be cured of your addiction.) So here are the songs:

Some Unholy War by Amy Winehouse: This bluesy, soulful song narrates the singer's devotion to her man, "B," in his struggle in an unholy war. The singer affirms that "He still stands in spite of what his scars say," and I found that encouragement to be very lifting. In my case I did have the tremendous support of my father, trusted friends, and the wonderfully generous people in the program, but as I listened to the song, I often felt support from the other side of the veil in the midst of my psychomachia (look that word up - it's a good one!).

Gravity by A Perfect Circle: Where Amy's song is bluesy, this has a seething metal intensity, but also feels like the musical articulation of the soul's agony. Gravity in this song is the submission to unpredictable forces, specifically God's grace. The narrator pleads for help, begging "Catch me, heal me, lift me back up to the sun."

Trouble Me by 10,000 Maniacs: This song is like a reply to the previous. The narrator wants the listener to "trouble" her or him, as that narrator has a back that is "sturdy and strong." So much of the song can be understood as Jesus' plea to enter His light yoke and find rest from heavy burdens.

All Is Full Of Love by Bjork: The previous song feels like a very personal appeal to turn to Christ and others. This song sounds like the last words that God told us before we came to earth, including "you'll be given love," "you’ll be taken care of," and "you have to trust [that love]." Once the chorus begins, especially in the live version from Vespertine Live, the line "all is full of love" has an almost cosmic, mystical resonance. To me, it is everything Gregorian chant wants to be, and the soul that begins to feel peace and God's influence begins to see how, indeed, all is full of love.

Beat A Drum by R.E.M.: The delightful feel of this song and how it evokes a playful, kind nature provides an Edenic continuation of the previous song. Short lyrics are so packed with meaning in this song. The narrator sings about how "My fall knocked a mean chip out of me," and I will say that there is nothing like an addiction to have the "mean chip" of one's self-righteousness knocked out. There is also this absolutely amazing description of our second estate: "Half way from coal / Half way to diamond." The painful pressure of addiction recovery often seems overwhelming. Listening to this song helped me refocus on how that pressure could transform me from weak, flimsy, chalky, and dark coal into hard, clear, powerful, and luminescent diamond. Hopefully Christ could make me one of his jewels (Malachi 3:17). During the entire addiction recovery, of course I wanted it all to be over, but this song matched those times when I could trust God and His timetable, feeling that this moment, this place, "This is all I want, / It's all I need."

Much, much more could be said about these songs, songs that lifted and encouraged me during a difficult time of abundant though unrequested blessings. Do you have any songs to add? Post a comment.

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