I pulled an old CD from my organizer before I went into the gym. Sick of the same three CDs on a constant rotation in my Discman, I decided I'd take my chances and grab an unmarked burned CD.
I hopped on the Elliptical machine and began my workout. I hit play and was thrilled when Snoop Dogg and Pharrell started signing "Beautiful." I remembered the CD, and I was glad I had chosen it. I pumped my legs and arms to the various feel-good songs on the CD. "Don't Leave Me this Way" was sandwiched between Ludachris' "Fantasy" and Missy Elliot's "Reverse It." I was sweating and loving it. Then the steady beats of hip hop died down, giving way to the beginning of a song I didn't recognize. It was piano, played slowly and seductively. Hearty.
Then the song slammed into me.
If you cut, I will bleed
Bring me down to my knees
Make me feel that what I am is never good enough.
I remembered the song in its entirety, and exactly why I chose to put it on a CD. My legs suddenly felt weak. The bars of the song, the singer's voice, catapulted me back to years ago, when the song first came out. Suddenly, I regressed to who I was then, over a year ago: Insecure, afraid. Does he love me? Will we ever get married? Maybe I should move out of my parent's house so he can see I can be independent, too. Fresh from a fight and feeling like I'd just been beaten. Doesn't he see that what he says hurts? Will I ever be happy? Will we ever NOT fight about things? What do I have to do to make him want me?
I hated it.
I hated the memory of myself. I hated that I was ever that way. I hated that a song, only a few words into the first verse, could remind me how utterly weak I was.
But I loved it, too. I loved that regardless of the fact that I was in a gym, surrounded by sweaty people and exercise equipment, I could be completely transported by the music oozing out of my headphones. I loved that music has that much power over me. Because just as quickly as I can remember listening to that song feeling feeble and helpless, I can remember finally realizing it was time to let go and get on with my life.
And there's nothing like being reminded of how far you've come.