The 5 Songs That Got Me Through Reliving Past Trauma in 2017

This past year has been a year of reliving past trauma, opening up old scars, and recovering the way I should have when the wounds were first opened. I’ve had to face things from 15 years ago that impacted me so deeply that I didn’t even realize it. Things that have been so buried in my bones that I thought they were trapped there, destined to haunt me. My own personal storm that would never leave my side. For the first time in a long time, I’ve felt hope that maybe things will turn out differently for me, and some of these songs are the reason why.

It’s been a deeply painful process — and painfully slow, at times. But as I’ve always done, ever since I can remember, I found solace in music. Music has always been the place where my broken bones would heal, where the thoughts tangled in my head would finally untangle, even if it were only for three and a half minutes. These are the songs that have gotten me through the chaos of 2017.

1. “Praying” by Kesha

This song is the song I’ve been waiting to hear all of my life. Except I didn’t know I needed it. After learning about the abuse I experienced and the way it had shaped who I have become — both negatively and positively — this was the song I belted out in the shower. It was the song I listened to as I did the dishes, the song I listened to while shopping. It was on repeat for weeks. It’s an empowering song about finally being free from the demons that have followed you around for so long. It’s reaching that point in your recovery where you let go of the pure hatred, resentment or anger you’ve been carrying around. I don’t know that I’ve reached that point. I don’t know when I will. All I know is this song made me believe I could. That was more than I could have ever hoped for.

2. “Rose-Colored Boy” by Paramore

Every time I feel like I’m not allowed to be sad or angry, I listen to “Rose-Colored Boy.” Or when someone tells me not to be so depressed and to “choose happiness.” I wish this song had been released that time I was walking in Manhattan and a man told me to “smile.” This is the ultimate song to listen to when you need to feel like your emotions are valid.

3. “Heavy” by Linkin Park

When I was in ninth grade, I started harming myself. I was struggling with depression and antidepressants that didn’t work, and I felt so alone. I was introduced to songs like “Somewhere I Belong” and “Numb” — songs that became anthems not just for common teenage angst, but also for kids battling wars inside their heads. As I got older, I grew apart from them. When I saw the news about Chester Bennington, my heart shattered, and I delved into Linkin Park’s discography again. I heard “Heavy” for the first time. I remembered every single reason why I connected with them in the first place. Their songs had an uncanny ability to write with perfect clarity what depression and mental illness feels like. “Heavy” is a reminder that, at the very least, if I learn to let go of some of the ghosts that haunt my mind, it won’t be so heavy anymore.

4. “I Don’t Think About You” by Kelly Clarkson

Truth be told, I didn’t relate much to Kelly Clarkson’s newest album. She sounds great, as always, but the subject matter just wasn’t for me. A few songs stood out, however, and this is one of them. I remember where I was when I heard it. I was standing at a bus stop, waiting in the cold. I had to fight back tears because everything about it reminded me of an ex-boyfriend and the emotional, verbal abuse he inflicted on me. She sings about being isolated, losing hope and feeling like she could never leave. She felt trapped. Suffocated. She didn’t think she’d survive at times. But it’s about more than that. It’s about moving on and not letting what you struggled through hold you down. Again, I’m not at that point, but much like “Praying,” it gave me the hope that one day I will be — that I’ll be able to move on with my life and not think about what I had to survive. I will get there, one day.

5. “Getaway Car” by Taylor Swift

I’m a self-proclaimed Swiftie, so when “Reputation” came out, I snuggled up in my blanket with a mug that holds an absurd amount of tea, put on my coziest hoodie, and looked out into the night while listening to the album from start to finish. That’s always my favorite part — when a favorite artist releases something and you listen to the songs, in order, no interruptions. “Getaway Car” is the ninth song on the album and in the middle of my first listen to it, I had to pause it because I fell so in love with it. I felt it in my bones. It’s a song about being stuck in an abusive relationship and needing to find a way out. And you find a way out in the form of another person — a getaway car. A lot of people call it manipulative, and it could be, but when you’re looking to get out of a dead-end relationship, it’s very easy to latch on to things outside of it. Sometimes, it’s like it’s your only connection to the outside world. Swift sings candidly about knowing deep down that her getaway car wasn’t going to last, and by the end of the song, she’s driving her own getaway car. She is the getaway car, nobody else. It’s easy to mistake this song for a song simply about being stuck and trying to run away and escape, but I hear a song about empowerment. I hear a song that turned tragedy into hope. And hope is often something that is taken from victims of abuse. It is something that is difficult to gain back after surviving.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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Getty Images photo via cyano66

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