I have this thing with sad songs. I love to sing them, and to make them more meaningful to sing, I pretend that I am sad. I pretend I am heartbroken. I pretend I am I suffering from on requited love. And I pretend that my marriage is ending.
One of my favorite such songs is Neither One of Us by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The chorus phrase is “Because neither one of us wants to be the first to say goodbye.” I sang this song over and over in 2009 and 2010. I wanted it to be true, and the more I sang it the more true it became. I was unhappy in my marriage. In my sickness, I was constructing an intense delusion that my wife was a very bad partner; a delusion that vanished when I started treatment. In reality, I couldn’t ask for a better partner. But then, I wanted my marriage to end, and I wanted, just as in the song, her to recognize it and enter into a mutual agreement to end it.
I remember so clearly the family cruise we took where I spent the cruise chasing women, or being chased by women. I listened to that song over and over again in with my iPod Nano. I intentionally made myself sad and worthy of pity.
But the reality is that I wasn’t in a bad marriage; I was in a sad marriage. I was in a marriage with a woman who loved me and who would do anything to keep our family together and all I could see was a controlling bitch who disliked me intensely. The reality was that it was a sad marriage because of my undiagnosed illness and my behavior.
But here I am in 2016, struggling with mania again, and singing all of the old sad songs. I sang Neither One of Us 3 times on the way to work and maybe 2o times in the last week. I’m getting pretty good at it by now. I don’t want it to be true, but it’s a little too close to comfort. I’m casually concocting a plan to sing it as a duet with a woman I’m very attracted to who has shown attraction to me recently. She sings Gladys Knight well. I know I could carry off the song with her. We would act it out together on stage. Just pretend. Just acting. But it would ignite some real feelings. I truly do not want to put myself in a scenario like that, but I really want that song to be true enough to enjoy singing it. I love the fantasy, but I know what it can lead to. At some point, I’m going to have to pull the plug on this song if I don’t want to start building delusions again.
My mania and depression often involves particular songs. I sing along with Barry Manilow, Damien Rice, Gladys Knight, and all of those old sad song pros.
Even now when I have come so far
I wonder where you are
I wonder why it’s still so hard without you
Even now when I come shining through
I swear I think of you
And how I wish you knew
and imagine the girl I used to date that I never quite got over.
Oh, I know that I’ve left you
In places of despair
Oh, I know that I love you
So please throw down your hairAt night, I trip without you
And hope I don’t wake up
‘Cause waking up without you
Is like drinking from an empty cup
There can be no way, there can be no way
This can have a happy ending (happy ending)
So we just go on (we go on) hurting and pretending
And convincing ourselves to give it just one more try (one more try)
Because neither one of us (Neither one of us)