I’m not okay (I Promise)
“I’m guessing M. and Harley will be disappointed by this. I’m sorry :(”
My heart is pounding. My hands are still shaking as I write this. My lungs are stuffy, constricted, not working like they should. I’ve resorted to recovery breathing, like I’ve been running or gotten a good workout in karate.
My Chemical Romance’s split is a 6 on my Richter scale. My world is rocking on its foundation. And I know for some of you it’s off the charts, the devastation is complete and it’s going to take a miracle to rebuild everything.
But the heart pounding adrenaline, the tears suffocating my chest, are more than just shock of seeing a cornerstone of my musical life so cleanly break off. No. It’s a memory. One I’ve locked away in the furthest, darkest corner of my mind for years. It’s the memory of another early morning condolence.
“Rev died, sry hunny”
I got that text December 29th at 9:25am, 2009.
No, I didn’t save it. That day, that message, they’re branded into my memory. I locked that day away; pushed it as far as I could. And here I am; racked again by chills, tears stinging my eyes, heart pounding so hard I can feel it in my toes, mouth dry, stomach roiling, trying so hard to breathe.
My gods, the Pain.
I’ve been reading the tweets all weekend about MCR’s split. Gerard’s goodbye is a cool rag on third degree burns. And I feel what you’re going through because it hurts. It does. My Chemical Romance are the band that got me into the more theatrical side of rock n’ roll and through that I’ve found the bands that are the building blocks of my existence. I know without a doubt I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for them and I know I’m not alone with that sentiment. Some of us wouldn’t be breathing if not for this band.
It was a late night/early morning, when Fuse TV was young and still catering to the rock n’ roll crowd, that I saw the video for “I’m not Okay (I Promise)”. And that, that moment I saw these guys, these slightly awkward misfits, was the moment I—and many others—fell in love with MCR.
That song was the anthem of my life. I was fourteen, middle of freshmen year and I really wasn’t okay. My parents had split only a year or two ago and my mom had taken to staying out late at the bars with her friends. She was distant and I was not okay. My sister was acting out in her own way, getting into minor trouble at school, probably doing things after school that would have landed her in more serious trouble had she been caught. And I was trying to hold everything together. I was trying to be a pillar of support for my mom, trying to wrangle my sister, trying to navigate the nightmare that is freshmen year, trying to be the good friend as my best friend went through friend drama and boy trouble. And I was Not Okay.
And then, like a small condolence from the gods, there was My Chemical Romance. They gave me more than just music; they gave me a fan base, the MCRmy, they gave me a way of life. This is the moment music became more than just background noise while I did homework; this was the moment it became who I was because it gave me a reason. It gave me something to hold onto. And as I sit here listening to their full discography I’m struck again by how much they shaped my life and the hole their absence has left me with.
But the tears I feel are of breathless relief. The band is gone, with cool—almost clinical—words severing everything cleanly, but the guys are still here. They’re still breathing. They’re still out there going about their lives.
I’m not here to minimize the pain. My Chemical Romance is a foundation block in my life, but for some they were the keystone holding them together. This isn’t some “wow, that sucks” polite condolence. I’ve heard them. And sometimes that well-meaning yet vague response is more painful than the actual event.
You’re not alone with your pain. I want you all to know, unequivocally, You Are Not Alone. For every person in your life that tosses an uncertain “sorry” at you because they don’t know what else to say, there are three more in the MCRmy that will gladly hold out a hand and share your pain.
The alienation I felt after The Rev died was as close to soul crushing as I think anyone could get and still get out alive. I was at my dad’s house while he was in Columbus, OH for the day on business. I had the place completely to myself for the day and I spent every minute sitting on my bed crying. When he got home, close to six, I answered the door wrung out of tears but still racked by uneven breaths and chills. He gave me a hug and asked what was wrong.
I couldn’t answer. I hadn’t spoken the words aloud all day, because words are power and if you speak it that means it’s real and it’s happened. I had texted him earlier and gotten the same awkward apology from him as my mom had given me.
“Is it about that drummer? I’m sorry.” That drummer. That drummer. He wasn’t that drummer he was the goddamn Reverend Tholomew Plague. He was James Owen Sullivan. He was so much more than just “that drummer”. And my dad didn’t understand. That painful rift of those who “know” and those who don’t has never been more agonizingly clear. I was completely alone in my real life in dealing with this grief. No one understood how the death of a man who I had never met could tear me into a hundred pieces. So I had to pull myself back together, at least on the surface. I had to patch myself back together for them. I had to get up the next day and act normal, pretend like my world wasn’t in shambles and burning around me, because not one of them understood the devastation the Rev’s death had caused in my life.
So, MCRmy if your world is in pieces, talk to me. I never want anyone to go through the pain of being alone in rebuilding your world. To others it’s just “that band”, maybe even a band they don’t like, but I know how much more they are. If you don’t talk to me, talk to another Killjoy. Get on Twitter, get on Facebook, get on the official MCR page and talk to others.
This is an army and we’re not leaving anyone behind.