Thanks, Taylor, For Proving I Can Begin Again, Too
If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
“Reputation” came out during a very hard year of my life. Coming off the cusp of a relationship where I was constantly gaslit and emotionally abused, I had moments where I would have to grapple with newfound trust issues, anger, and low self-esteem, while building myself up from the worst relationship of my life. I felt lost and hurt, as if no one understood me.
That same year, I found love in the midst of all the chaos. It was a patient love that made me fight all of the negative thoughts and beliefs my ex-friend and lover had left me with.
“Reputation,” an album that speaks to the complexities of trauma and new love, and feeling like the world is against you except for this one person, became a very important part of my healing journey and through that album, I found the rest of Taylor Swift’s discography.
She became a beacon of light in a very dark place and cemented her place in my life because of that.
In 2019, Scooter Braun acquired Big Machine Records, and with that, became the owner of all of her old masters (everything recorded prior to her album “Lover,” released in late summer 2019). Just like that, all of Taylor’s life work was no longer hers to own, and on top of that, the person who now held possession of them was, in her words, a long term “manipulative bully.” Shortly after the conflict went public, Taylor announced she’d be re-recording her entire discography so she could own what was always hers to begin with.
As a Taylor fan, I was for it. I listened to “Fearless” when she re-released it earlier in 2021, but it wasn’t until she re-recorded and re-released “Red,” an album filled to the brim with the devastatingly beautiful contradictions that come with losing a love that you thought would always be around. Poignantly and whimsically tragic, “Red” was full of fan favorites such as “All Too Well,” “22,” “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” and more.
In her Instagram announcement once the album dropped, she wrote “Just a friendly reminder that I would never have thought it was possible to go back and remake my previous work, uncovering lost art and forgotten gems along the way, if you hadn’t emboldened me. Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Tonight we begin again…”
To a trauma survivor, that is everything.
Reclaiming yourself after trauma is such a hard and intense process. No “tips” or podcasts can really prepare you for the chaotic road ahead. When something happens to you that changes your entire perception of the world, it’s hard to see reality clearly. Everything is marred by what someone said and did to you, and ultimately, how anyone and everyone else can do that to you again. You question what was your fault, their fault, and what all the various roles in the situation may be. You rely on your friends and family (hopefully), trying to make sense of a thousand-piece puzzle that seems to be missing all the pieces, so you’re forced to make something new out of the jangled picture.
People say “look on the bright side,” when you can’t see past the darkness in front of you. Trauma is a thief, and it stole Taylor’s life work, as it did my sense of self and belief in real life fairytales and magic.
To see someone like Taylor put in the work that comes with recording how many hit records—not just replaying the same notes on a track but instead finding new harmonies and rifts, adding new voices we never heard before, and making something beautiful and new out of the tangled and jumbled up pieces that were left behind—is inspiring, especially for people who have been through trauma.
Maybe we don’t have to sit with what has been, knee-deep in what happened to us. Maybe we too can make something out of it, becoming something new, even if it’s not something shiny. It’ll take work, just like Taylor re-recording every single track she has made from 2006-2018, but if anything, this proves that it’s worth it.
Thank you, Taylor, for reminding me that something beautiful can come from trauma, and that maybe it’s worth fighting for it to begin with.
On a Friday in mid-November, perhaps I can begin again too.
Image courtesy of Taylor Swift – Red (Taylor’s Version) (Lyric Video)