Late in the night, with tired eyes, Florence Welch’s voice, powerful, sorrowful, yet still hopeful, sang and hit me unexpectedly:
“Hold me down, I’m so tired now/Aim your arrow at the sky/Take me down, I’m so tired now/Leave me where I lie.”
When Florence released “Sky Full of Song” last April, of course I adored it, but I didn’t resonate with the lyrics as much as I did this night.
It was then I realized I was avoiding.
At first, I was overcome by shock, panic, and stress. But over the course of several days, I’ve picked up the unbreakable habit of avoidance. Drowning myself in daily frustrations, frivolous distractions—not forgetting, because I could never forget. But accidentally avoiding. Pushing it down.
Florence is the steady reminder for me.
I remember the dark, rainy late October weekend in Chicago. United in music, love, and the city streets filled with stories. Mesmerized by Florence crooning with thousands in the United Center, “Hold onto each other” from her song entitled “June.”
In my avoidance I realize I’ve attempted to live in normalcy, as if not in crisis. Again, never forgetting, but pretending I’m coping in my avoidance.
“Be careful, oh my darling, oh be careful what it takes/From what I’ve seen so far, the good ones always seem to break.”
It hits me that I’m not okay. I want to be okay. But life can be too much. When you’re coping with life and an avalanche in winter buries you, sometimes fighting to escape is exhausting.
Even though I’m not okay, I’m aware of my privilege in stating this. I still have my health. And daily guilt in my selfishness, my woe-is-me’s, my wishes to focus on self-care. How can I focus on myself? How can I allow this avoidance? How can I bury myself like this? It’s so selfish of me to focus on daily annoyances and pretend I can have a normal life. Life is not normal. My world is not normal.
Maybe when my world is crashing, in order to cope, avoidance is my failed attempt at feigning normalcy in crisis. But Florence’s lyrics have always had a way of speaking my truth, when I need to hear it the most. Even when it hurts, in a dark room with failed attempts at distracting my brain from late-night thoughts reminding me.
In the first several days, I experienced a sense of pride for expressing openness in my real-life social circles, laying bare my reality. Now I’ve already retreated to my avoidant “I’m fine” exterior. Florence reminded me that I’m not fine.
Even though avoidance and isolation go hand-in-hand for me, I’m still aware I’m not alone. Isolation can also be a pesky habit to break. Dwelling in fear and avoiding reality is, at times, dangerously comforting.
At night thoughts buried during the day rise to the surface. Text messages I wish to send but save for a better time.
“And I heard your voice, as clear as day/And you told me I should concentrate,” Florence sings over the piano of “Only If for a Night.”
Sometimes it’s easier to live in dreams. Waking up to reality can feel like being hit by a truck. For me it’s created a fear of falling asleep. Once again, avoidance is a habit I’m fighting to break, currently failing. Maybe it’s just a stage. A phase through the journey of coping with a life-changing crisis. I have yet to learn.