Not overnight, that’s ridiculous. Gradually though, things have become somewhat… unhinged. Out of order. I don’t like that. I cannot handle that.
For the longest time, I could have been easily described as an observer. A person that would rather watch from the sidelines than to interfere when trouble was occurring. It worked. For a long time, it worked. I would avoid confrontation whenever I could, would try to please and make everyone around me happy. I would never let anyone in on the closest, deepest fears I had. Not even you, my love. I would smile, jump around and act like a goofy kid every time things were on the breaking point of turning serious.
It’s a cheap kind of defense.
And over the years, I began to feel like a circus clown. The fakeness was dripping off of me like watercolors would do in a rainstorm. I felt faceless, lifeless even. It’s not your fault, love. It isn’t anybody’s fault, I suppose. Just… gradually, I think, I began to forget who I was. Right now I’m not even sure I ever knew.
I know for a fact you will never believe me again when I tell you I am okay. Too much has happened for that. Things I cannot even try to begin to explain. But I am.
Okay, I mean. I am okay.
I used to be caught in the middle. I used to be the one to put out fires other people started. I was never directly involved. Never the cause of the commotion. And even when I was, I would pretend I wasn’t. I didn’t want that kind of attention. I hated the very thought of being the center of attention when I wasn’t on stage or on the job.
And then… things changed.
Things I didn’t have control over, and that scared me more than anything else ever could. I was so scared of losing control. Of losing the perfectly planned out life I was living. The dull, boring kind of life that I loved more than anything. I was selfish, blind to the world outside of that perfect bubble. I had you, I had our son, and that was more than I would ever need. But for some reason, along those lines, I forgot the fact that things always have to change.
Because they did. I have no idea why, or when exactly. But they did. I pretended to not be affected. Like it was just a minor setback. I had hope, in the beginning.
Lots of hope. I was overflowing with hope, so to speak. Indulging in therapies and medications, trying to prove to mostly myself that this was just a random little thing that was not going to hold me back. Sure, it would take a few months to get it under control and to get the whole show on the road again. But I would take it and make it better. Nobody had to know; it wasn’t even that important.
But those few months became a year and I could feel my confidence falter. The more I told myself it was just a little thing that wouldn’t actually hurt me, the bigger it became. And nobody knew. Only you, my love. I know you had to watch from the sidelines too. I know you wanted to help me, but I didn’t let you. Because it was just a little random thing that I was in denial about.
Because if the little random thing was really true, that would mean the beginning of the end of a life I had so carefully build up for the better half of my existence. A life build on perfection and beauty; a life without flaws, far away from any anomalies. I believed in that fairytale for such a longtime that I forgot that it wasn’t real. Because nothing is ever perfect, my love. God didn’t want it to be.
Of course they knew something was up. I guess at some point, everyone did. All the managers and PR-agents and publicists would look at me with caution. There was this kind of unspoken tension that would instantly drop the mood in every single encounter I had. And I would be too stubborn to let them know that their suspicions were right. They were so worried, it was almost comical. I remember the uncomfortable glances my fellow band members would throw me on stage from time to time. But they didn’t dare to bring it up. Not once. Probably because my temper was an easy thing to trigger back in that period.
I know you remember that.
Then came the end of the joined tour with the New Kids and the inevitable Talk of the Future. Usually, those kind of meetings left me stoked and excited for what was to come. But I was awfully silent the whole time, not sharing in the enthusiasm the others held over recording a new album. Kevin would come back, and we would finally have the creative freedom we had craved for such a long time. Everything would be bigger, better and sweeter than it had ever been, right?
I didn’t want to crush their dreams, and I was too selfish to resign. At that time, I had no hope that they would be patient and supportive enough to cope with my insignificant troubles. I didn’t want to be the cause of destruction. I was a team player. I did what I thought was right for the group, and if that meant keeping my little problems secret, then so be it.
Until Nick came up with sharing three weeks together in London. Just the five of us, he said. To reconnect, to become family again. This family was important to him, I knew that. It was the only kind of family he still had. He relished in the thought that there were actually people out there that cared about the stuff he had been through. People that would support him, no matter what. He was the baby of our little family; he held a special place in our hearts. He had come a long way, but he had finally found peace in the thought that we would help him, come what may.
I was jealous of that.
When Nick came up with the suggestion, I felt the fear suffocating my already closed up throat. Three long weeks of having to hang around the people that I wanted to keep at a distance more than anything. That didn’t sound like anything I wanted to dive into. It was then for the first time that I realized that things had changed. I was no longer the observer; they were. I was the limp monkey in the zoo and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. I was acting strange and uncharacteristic. And I couldn’t tell them. I wouldn’t let them know the kind of stress and pressure I was feeling; half of which came from them, and half of which I was putting on myself.
Stress does funny things to a person. A little stress never hurt anyone. A little stress keeps you focused and ready for action. A little more can keep you awake at night and make you worry about every little detail in your life. Extreme stress causes severe headaches and panic attacks; it makes your heart think it should be ready to explode in your ribcage; it makes you wake up screaming in the middle of the night; it makes your life a complete hell.
And, although I have spend years denying that anything happened, things have changed, my love.
And so have I.