I’ve always known the power that words hold. I discovered this when I wrote my first poem at 11 years old. For me, poetry is my usual go-to when I want to express myself. It’s difficult to tell people how you feel sometimes, yet easier to just write it down. But even then, sometimes just writing how you feel gets difficult, or even daunting because writing down how you feel makes it even more real.
I have experienced this when I wrote a poem after my father’s passing. Every time I tried writing, this overwhelming feeling would prevent me writing more than one line at a time. I felt this anxiety—the same anxiety I experienced when I, finally, applied to grad school last week. It’s like, I knew writing a poem to express myself would be helpful, but as I stated in the poem I eventually wrote almost 2 months later, “I was afraid to open up Pandora’s box.”
I felt like writing the poem would make those feelings associated with my father’s passing resurface all over again and I did not want to experience that. But one of my favorite quotes by Nayyirah Waheed pushed me to write still.
I felt more at peace, and I knew it was because I found the power of my words. During this time, I found the power of other people’s words too, through music. I started listening to artists, whose music told my story better than I could. One artist who did an amazing job at capturing my exact sentiments is Demi Lovato. She wrote a song titled “Father”. When it first came out, I knew the significance of the song but it didn’t really impact me until after my father passed away, just like Demi Lovato’s.
On a previous album when her father was still alive, she wrote a song called “For the Love of a Daughter” and in that song there was a lot of pain evident from Demi’s estranged relationship with her father and she basically begged him to make her a priority. Our situations with our fathers were very different but underneath it all is this sadness.
However, in “Father”, it is so evident that Demi Lovato went through a healing process while writing this song. The lyrics reflected a more positive light on her father and showed forgiveness. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for her. I wonder if her process was similar to mine when it came to writing about our experiences with loss. One line from the song that really hits home for me is,
“Father, I’m gonna say thank you
Even if I’m still hurt.”
That opening line shows so much growth and maturity. She was able to find a way to be grateful for him despite not having the relationship that she wanted with him and that must have taken a lot of courage and strength. Listening to this song over and over again for months following the passing of my own father made these lyrics stick with me. I started to believe every word Demi sings and I was able to start my own healing process.
Some people may not like listening to sad songs when they are sad, however, I enjoy it because it’s like the artist is speaking for me and can relate to my experiences. As I wrote in a previous post, having someone be empathetic to the way you feel is so important because it helps validate your feelings. That’s the starting point to be able to say, “Hey, what I’m experiencing is real and it matters.”