I didn’t think I’d be writing a blog this week. I’ve been busy sharing other people’s stories as part of mental health awareness. I don’t want to take anything away from them. But I have the need to write this while the wound is still fresh.
This week I walked away from my band.
To put this in perspective, I’ve been in bands pretty much constantly for 18 years. When one was ending I was already putting together the next one.
Now, I have no band and I don’t know if I’ll ever be part of one.
It’s not been an easy decision to come to or a quick one. It’s been weighing on my mind for the past few months. The past couple of weeks though it’s been nagging at me every day. It’s cast a shadow over everything.
Looking back through the blogs and I see evidence of it since I started writing these down. The anxiety and depression that hit me last year robbed me of a lot of things, including the desire to make or play music for a while altogether. I would sit and look at the guitar in the living room and it would look back at me, neither of us with any interest in the other.
When I started feeling better I’d lift it up and pluck at the strings for a while then put it down. It felt weird, there was some resistance somewhere with it. Even stepping back into the practice room didn’t feel right. I would go through the motions and pray that something magical would happen, that I’d feel some of the passion I’d felt previously. I hoped, desperately, that the spark would return.
But it didn’t.
Being in the practice room felt hard. It didn’t feel right, no matter how I approached it. Playing felt like I was fighting with myself. The songs I’d helped write felt alien to me. All I could do was faintly hope that it would change. But it didn’t, no matter how hard I tried.
I felt like I was cheating myself and the band. I was going through the motions hoping nobody would notice. They didn’t seem to but I could. I could tell I was faking it. Going to practice became a pain to me. Not because of my friends in the band but because I felt like I couldn’t connect to what I’d helped create. I’d become a stranger in my own band.
When I’m playing music I need to feel a connection with it and with who I’m playing. I’ve tried pretending in the past and it doesn’t work. I could feel myself becoming more miserable and guilty. My friends deserved better.
I think I’d finally come to the conclusion I needed to leave a few days beforehand. I chewed it over and over again to make sure I was doing the right thing for me. The more time I spent thinking about it the more I realised I was coming to the inevitable conclusion.
It wasn’t easy to step back. In fact it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
I was in tears when I slowly wrote my message to the rest of the band. I was in tears when I posted it to the band’s Facebook page. I was in tears when I read some of the messages that were sent to me.
Even though I know it was the right decision to make, it still hurt. It still knocked me down. I felt some kind of relief but also real sadness. It’s like breaking up with someone when you still love them but you know it’s impossible to carry on. I just wish I felt like I hadn’t let my friends down.
These decisions are for the best no matter how much they hurt everyone involved. I’ve told everyone I hope they carry on, I really do. I believe in my friends and I believe in the music they (we) made. I know that I just can’t be part of it anymore.
So, my immediate music future doesn’t look clear. I didn’t leave to start my own band. I’ve got a recording session with my old band Bateman booked at the end of the month (long story), strictly as a one off. We just want to re-record some old songs. There are no gigs planned, no nothing. Just that session. After that? Nothing. No plans, no aim, no goal.
I’m going to spend some time rediscovering that spark inside of me, that desire to write and play songs, as I know I’ve still for some buried inside of me. I can feel the anxiety nipping at me again but I’m prepared for a fight. It’s tried taking music away from me but I swear it won’t be forever.