10.22 The Block
I can’t get this song out of my head. It’s an old song, but I heard it first in an episode of Black Mirror. It’s haunted me ever since. The song is called Anyone Who Knows What Love is (Will Understand). Here’s the clip from Black Mirror:
It’s haunting and beautiful and the way it was used in Black Mirror was especially effective. All that is good, but for some reason it was hitting me at an emotional level in a severely visceral way. What was it about this song that was causing me such a mix of emotional release, feeling unsettled, unmoored, and downright confused?
I think it has to do with a much deeper and harboured thing that even I realized at first. Lately, I have been obsessed with something I call The Block. Over the course of a few years, I put everything into different buckets, meaning, my personal relationships were separate from my professional ones, my creative work was different from my professional life, my side project partners were different than work colleagues. And so on. Any problems that arose with any of these buckets, I dealt with accordingly and specifically.
I saw no connections between the buckets.
Here’s the thing, not too long ago, and really it’s just because I could be a bit dense when it comes to certain things, I came to understand that that was all bull shit. All of it. Like some paranoid person with a map on their basement wall with thumbtacks and string, I started drawing lines of connections between everything. It was all one pattern.
Okay, so everything is connected.
Any measure of success or failure could be attributed to one drop in a well that creates ripples which eventually leads to a tsunami. When I was able to narrow things down a bit, saw how the connections were not many individualized items to check off or solve or figure out, that I could collect all of these points of reference and bring them together into one giant thing to explore and investigate, I felt that then I was finally on to something.
Great, so what is the ‘giant thing’? The Block.
I feel like I work hard, that I try to be a good person, that I hope to make myself emotionally available to a partner, and I think I do this a certain percentage of the time. This percentage of where I am fluctuates - sometimes I am on the winning side, sometimes the losing side. But, I can’t seem to get past a certain threshold that would help propel me into the professional role that I have the skills for, or the personal relationship that I believe I deserve. And to me, when you take all of these different ways that I am successful, but not quite as successful as I want or can be, it all boils down to one thing: I am stopping myself from gaining that extra ten or fifteen percent I need to build sustainable success.
The Block. It’s me. I’m The Block.
Now, I don’t know if the song I referenced above was written as an earnest belief in what love is, or was meant as some kind of ironic take. Definitely within the confines of the Black Mirror universe, it comes across as ironic. And I am glad, because otherwise I think it’s bull shit. Complete and utter bull shit.
I’ve been in a relationship that sucked, one that I even thought was true love, and it sounded just like this song. It was certainly not love, nothing of the kind. I understand that perhaps in the unironic meaning of this song, it’s romantic to hold a love for someone that treats you like shit. To love someone no matter what. Maybe this is acceptance, maybe they were trying to show that what it’s really all about is taking someone as they are without judgement.
Sure. But also.
What I’ve come to understand, and again in all of my denseness, is that anyone shitting on you or shaming you about things does not deserve your time and attention, much less something as important as your love. Fuck that and fuck them. You and I are worth more.
When I was in situations that I wished had gone better, I often tried to look at a combination of my own actions and the actions of others. Granted, usually I lay the blame solely on my shoulders. It’s easier that way and I can talk to myself in all manner of shitty ways. I can point the finger inwards, I can be mean and unforgiving.
And so, when I untangled this song and why it was like an ear-worm worming its way into my brain, I felt like I was approaching it in the wrong way. I was thinking about things in regards to outside people, that is, my professional capacity or my romantic relationships or my friendships, all kinds of ships. I finally came to look at the song as a reflection on my relationship with myself. And if you look at it in the ironic way, it’s a goddamn borderline emotionally abusive relationship.
One of the saddest times of my life, a good few months that really almost truly broke me, someone actually tried to convince me that I was a terrible person, and yet, at the same time make me believe that they knew me better than anyone. And if someone who knew me better than anyone felt that I was a terrible person, then perhaps I truly was terrible. Once I was left with myself, having absorbed all this terribleness and having it enhance my own negative self-talk, I came to a point where I had to make a decision. I saw the destructive force of someone constantly pummelling you from the outside, but what happens when this same pummelling comes from the inside?
That I’ve convinced myself that I needed to live with that was getting untenable and ridiculous. I was foolish to accept this and it had to change. Simply put, it had to change in order to not only achieve that extra ten or fifteen percent in all facets of my life, but just to find some peace. Some quiet.
I do understand how I was drawn to this song and why it made such an impact on me. I will still listen to it, but in a different way. It makes me smile to see what it once was to be confined by myself, become aware of this, and know that I never want to go back there again.
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)
First performed by Irma Thomas.
Written by: Jeannie Seely, Randy Newman, Judith Arbuckle, Pat Sheeran.
You can blame me
Try to shame me
And still I'll care for you
You can run around
Even put me down
Still I'll be there for you
May think I'm foolish
They can't see you
Like I can
Oh but anyone
Who knows what love is
I just feel so sorry (anyone)
For the ones
Who pity me
'Cause they just don't know
(Anyone) Oh they don't what happiness love can be
I know to ever let you go
Oh, it's more than I could ever stand
Oh, but anyone
Who knows what love is
Oh (anyone) they'll understand
(Anyone) If they try love, they'll understand
(Anyone) Oh, try to understand