Last fall when I went to see Nine Inch Nails in concert, I came out of it in shock. Because at concerts, I throw myself into the music, and the emotion, and the energy, as much as I can. My measure of intensity is directly related to how much I get out of the experience. And with Nine Inch Nails, I throw myself further down that spiral than I do with any other artist, save for Depeche Mode.
And at the Oakland show, last fall, I was overwhelmed by a whole flood of emotion I’d carefully locked up ten years before. And it happened again last night. So now I have to open a fairly major question – am I really that calm? Am I really that Zen? Do I want to be that way?
Let’s backtrack a bit here. As I have been addressing more and more of who I am – versus who I thought I was supposed to become – I have been faced with How Much Of Me Is Left. It’s superficial, so far. It’s just goth, it’s just black, it’s just being a do-gooder geek. My love of history and reading, my drive to save the world, everything I was by nature, that I pushed down because I was pushing so hard to fit into mainstream America. I bought mall clothes! I subscribed to Cosmo! I developed an obsession with Sex and the City! I bought slutty club clothes and went out dancing! I did everything that I thought a twenty something normal girl would do.
Let’s put it this way: I am accepting that I am a freak. I’m always going to be a freak. And I was so fucking miserable as a freak as a teenager that I pushed myself to grow up into an adult who looked and acted like she didn’t know what freaks were. And I didn’t learn that the first time in the States, apparently – even though pushing against my nature almost drove me to suicide. The second time back in America, I did a bit better with it, but let’s face it, Jillian – your first year and a half here had a definite theme to it, and that theme was Let’s Pretend You Were Popular In High School.
Maybe it was told to me, maybe I told myself, but I’ve repeated as a mantra, “you’re not broken, Jillian. You’re normal now. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not what you were, the fat lonely housewife in Seattle, the freak from Oak Bay High. You’ve made yourself normal.”
And then last November happened, and I turned myself inside out, and the climax of that happened at Nine Inch Nails – and I started crying. Not because I’m not ever going to be normal, although that’s hard for me to accept, the fact that I’m always going to be a bit different. And yeah, I’m not as fucked up as a lot of people are. But I need to stare down everything that was wrong with me, every fear I don’t want to accept, every shred of hate I still carry, all the resentment that I’ve shoved down under a layer of tranquillity. I can’t just reinvent myself and make it go away. I only wish I could.
In “Lady Oracle”, Margaret Atwood referred to her former fat self following her as she changed shape, and changed mentality. The Fat Lady, she called her, this alter ego. Only mine isn’t a fat lady anymore. Mine grew up, as I have. There is no fat freak reject wandering on the outskirts of my mind anymore. Last night, I realized, my alter ego is made up of all the hate and all the resentment and all the despair that I’ve shoved down into myself. And she’s thinner – but only through destructive means, like I was seven years ago in Seattle – and then trades on that for further self-destruction, like I did when I was in Amarillo. There is a side of myself apparently rampaging my subconscious that is still capable of a lot of very bad things.
It’s at odds with who I thought I was becoming, and it’s not part of who I thought I was. Yet it’s there. And I don’t want to address that. I’d love to keep surfing through my life, lightly. I’d like to believe that the SoCal sunshine has burned out all the darkness that was in me. Now, I’m becoming strong enough to accept that I have a lot of resentment and negativity that I’ve shoved down rather than air and address, even if it’s only with myself. I, Jillian, have to start to deal with this – and now. Or I’ll lose the window to, and although I might convince myself differently, I’m not going to ever really own myself, and become the whole person I can be.
So that’s what comes out of a Nine Inch Nails show. That despite growing up a lot, and growing more and more into myself, I am still not completely aware of everything that goes on in my mind and my heart. It’s 2006 now. I’m almost twenty-eight. It’s time I finished addressing the ten years between eighteen and now, accepted who I was and who I am, and made myself complete.