Music and Lyrics

He wrote song lyrics, poems of various length, all about pain.

He left them out on his dresser one day, and I spotted them.

It is how I found out that my son had been bullied.

He suffered in silence through the middle school years. As grades began to fall, a perceptive guidance counselor suggested a meeting with a school appointed psychologist.

He was tested for depression. The results were negative, but we knew better. We knew of our family history with the illness.

bass player

The Bass Player

A few years later, I confronted him about the song lyrics. He was in a few bands by then, all of which featured what was known as hardcore punk music.

The rhythms were very fast paced, the vocals were as much screamed as sung, the themes were always dark, angry, hard to discern.

He wrote lyrics, composed music, played bass and did vocals.

Most of the themes could be traced back to those middle school years. He shared with me some of the horrific and potentially dangerous incidents that he’d hidden from us.

He claims he wanted to handle it himself, didn’t want us to worry. He also didn’t want us to interfere.

What he could not hide was complications to his gastrointestinal tract. He was making himself sick, and we noticed.

A series of comprehensive tests and procedures with a GI specialist revealed no physiological cause. Medicines were prescribed. None of it helped. They said he might outgrow it.

By now, he was about to enter the college years. His academic performance was average in high school, exceptional in college. He took a degree in professional writing.

He kept on with a few other bands into his early twenties, mostly for the fun of it.

He still writes music today, but of a much more peaceful and harmonious nature.

I am so proud of what he has overcome, what he achieved in the process, how he maintained his loving, sensitive spirit through it all.

He arrived on a sunny afternoon, on his due date, 30 years ago today.

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80 Responses to Music and Lyrics

  1. Erika Kind says:

    I am having tears in my eyes writing this comment! What a journey, what a hard path to go and he made it! Happy Birthday to your son!

    • It was a hard one to share, Erika, thanks for your sensitive thoughts. So many kids suffer through on their own. 💘

      • Erika Kind says:

        My daughter was bullied heavily too! Thank God at some point she told me and we could do something about it. She was so insecure and shy and today she is an amazingly strong young woman full of self-esteem. I totally feel the pride about your son and the gratitude about his achievement!

      • It does tend to make them stronger to have had such awful experiences, Erika. I understand that, all too well. So glad for him, and for your daughter. Thanks for sharing, I’m sure we’re not alone. 💕

      • Erika Kind says:

        What I am glad about is that my daughter developed a high sense of justice. She steps up for others now.
        We are definitely not alone, Van!

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    Sounds as if you have a lot to be proud of x

  3. Erica Herd says:

    Happy Birthday to him!

  4. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    First of all Happy Birthday to your son! 🎉🎁👍 He is one of the “lucky” ones that had some outlet to cope with all of the emotional baggage that comes with being bullied. However it seems that he came through it all, a much wiser and stronger person for it. That is not only a testament to his fortitude but can also say a lot about the household you provided him as his parents!

    • Such kindness in your words, thanks so much, Vic. We tried to keep an open dialog, but there was still so much he chose to hide from us. There’s a lesson in there for other families, I think. ❤️

  5. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, sad that your son suffered at the hands of bullies! Admirable that he went through it and succeeded. Many kids don’t tell about it until later in life due to fear of worse behavior. Happy Birthday to your amazing son! 💛 Elizabeth

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. I saw other parents try to step in and fight for their kids at the middle/high school level. It only made things so much worse. He had an early wisdom about him. 💖

  6. Elyse says:

    Happy Birthday to your son! So glad that he had that outlet.

    I was bullied in grammar school, and ended up having the most wonderful resolution for it: https://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2011/10/09/comes-around/ . There is a lot of truth to the adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”!

    • That’s a classic, Elyse, thanks for sharing the link. ☺ Karma works, doesn’t it ? I had the chance to teach a few of the tormenters he identified when they got to high school. I made things difficult for them, in small ways. I’m sure they didn’t know why ?? 💖

      • Elyse says:

        As it turned out, it seemed that Tommy had a crush on me. So he was mean. People are dopes!

        He ended up being a pretty good guy — a special ed teacher. But I didn’t know any of this until long after our 20th reunion.

      • Interesting to note, that crush thing. It turns out that a few of his worst tormenters were girls. Go figure ! Thanks, Elyse. ☺

  7. A very happy birthday to him! you are obviously fantastic parents and he made it through! Congratulations a celebration for you as well!

  8. Joyful2bee says:

    I know exactly what you mean. My 32 year old had not only bullying at school but at home as well. His father was emotionally abusive to me. I believe that set him up to be a victim. But finally with the love of a very wise young lady, he is coming out of the angry depression of being a helpless child. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope he will find a love like my son did.

  9. Happy birthday to your son. May he have many, many more. Sounds like he used his musical gift to help him deal with things. So glad he has a happy life now.

  10. Ah, middle school (or in my time, junior high!). I hated junior high and high school because I was one of those nerdy kids who gets picked on all the time. Thank heavens, I had my piano – I would go home after school and bang on that keyboard until all the rage and humiliation had left me.

    Glad your son managed to fight his own demons. Tell him Happy Birthday from Cordleia’s Mom (and give him a hug, if he’ll let you).

  11. He had gone through a lot! But, his determination and inner strength have made him overcome all.You should be proud of him… 🙂 Happy birthday to your son… 🙂

    Bullying is a dangerous thing. It can maim a kid, more psychologically than physically … I hate it from the core of my heart.

  12. Gosh, I got all choked up reading this. It shouldn’t be so hard to grow up. I think he probably knew you were there if he needed you and perhaps that solid foundation helped…and music…and just plain getting beyond those horrible years. It sounds like he found his place in the world and I can tell how proud you are. Happy Birthday to your son :-).

    • I hesitated to share this, respecting his privacy. But this was such a devastating challenge in his teen years, for all of us, that I couldn’t ignore it as we celebrate his getting to 30 in one piece. Thanks, Diana. 💕

  13. nancyruth says:

    Happy birthday to your son. We do not always know what our children endure. And it is a blessing and a joy to see them mature and grow in spite of the obstacles. Bullying wasn’t on the radar as much then as it is now. I managed to survive some bullying in that awful time of junior high by throwing myself into academia. Your son found music. Good for him.

    • It rescued him, for sure. It is almost hard to imagine that there is anyone out there who has not been subjected to some kind of bullying, a tragic reality. Thanks, Nancy. 💘

  14. Middle school, or junior high as we call it here, is as stressful as being in prison! I’m glad it all worked out for him, please wish him a happy 30th from me Van. ❤
    Diana xo

    • I will, Diana, thank you.☺ And I agree, those middle school years are the worst. Part of the problem…the girls look and act 18, while the middle school boys look about 10, and are easy victims. 💔

  15. I’m so glad things worked out so well, he sounds like a very resilient and wonderful young man! What a nice post

  16. Hi friend
    I am glad he kept pushing forward to finding himself. Bullying, I understand very well, I was bullied until eight grade. I’ve had a draft to share my experience, just not ready. I keep asking do people really want to hear another trauma from me. It is hard to know why people follow you.
    Glad you and your son’s story had a wonderful outcome. He must be very strong and confident to carry the pain around.
    You are one lucky mother!
    🙂
    M

    • I was worried for a very long time, M. He lost his joy, became sullen, isolated, lacking confidence. I know that can be a normal rite of passage for teens, but this was something else, and it made sense in retrospect. You should tell your story some day, so many could relate. 💕

  17. Happy Birthday to your precious son.
    I wish him many more to come surrounded by all of you.
    This was deeply touching.

  18. Happy Birthday to the young man who surely has found his own way

  19. I’m sure he’s as proud of you as you are of him, Van. He’s on the right path now. I hope you all had a wonderful day celebrating him and his birthday.

  20. lbeth1950 says:

    I am so glad you wrote this. We all have stories like this. So glad he survived. Having you as parents may have saved him.

    • Oh my, Linda, we do all have these stories. It got a lot more complex than I was able to convey here. There were times I thought we might lose him, and that was devastating for us all. It’s always a parent’s hope that we could/did make a difference. Thanks for saying so. Hugs. 💕

  21. Val Boyko says:

    What a happy day indeed!!
    Such a great post Van.
    Music can help us through the toughest times… and still heals me today 💛

  22. I feel glad that he overcame and found peace. This is a beautiful testimony of family, love and support Van. Happy birthday to your son 🙂

  23. Happy belated birthday to your son 🎂🎇🎉 how horribly cruel school years can be, it wasn’t until my son was an adult that he told me he was called terrible things for being mixed race – I had no idea 😞 massive respect to these young people who manage to rise above their experiences and become the beautiful individuals they are! Much love x

  24. George says:

    Happy Birthday to your favorite bass player. How lucky he was to have someone beside him through those difficult years. Even though he wanted to handle it himself, knowing you were there if he needed you must have been so important to him.

    • Interesting article and I agree…it is a pretty awful place. And they kept experimenting here with putting 5th graders in there, letting 8th graders move to high school. As a result of all the switching, he was in middle school for 4 years. Ugh. Thanks for the link.☺

  25. lisakunk says:

    My daughter also was bullied and has made it through. Now married and finishing grad school as a Music major and now speech pathologist. I love that your son is writing. Lemonade from lemons can be quite a sour ordeal.

  26. LaVagabonde says:

    The arts get many of us through those difficult times. I know how it is. Wonderful to know he has moved on to more peaceful melodies.
    Sorry for my absence, Van. I’ve been away on an adventure.

  27. nimi naren says:

    Wow…truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing

  28. academic Indonesia says:

    thanks for your info jual genset

  29. musically01 says:

    very touching 🙂

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