In the Arms of the Angel: A Moment with Bill Reflection
Oh Beautiful Release
I first heard this song in 1997. I chose it to be sung at the funeral of my fiancé when she died that year at the age of forty-four. Rest in peace, Margaret.
“Spend all your time waiting, for that second chance, for a break that would make it okay. There’s always some reason to feel not good enough, and it’s hard at the end of the day. I need some distraction, oh beautiful release, memory seeps from my veins. Let me be empty, oh, and weightless and maybe, I’ll find some peace tonight.”
One is too many; one-hundred never enough. The ghosts of the past curl their spectral arms around you, embrace you, caress you, whisper words in your ear that weigh you down and allow for no escape. Reality is painful. Memories are unbearable. Where will the release come from? When will the pain subside? How will you make the “what ifs” fade to black? Where is the key to unshackle you from a prison of your own making?
Second chances come to others more suited to utilize them correctly, leaving you with only self-doubt, self-loathing and self-incrimination, and damn it all to hell, the nighttime arrives and what light there was is engulfed by the darkness of your soul.
One is too many, but it will have to do, have to do, let me be empty, you whisper, but there is no one to hear your cries, only the four walls that comprise your universe on this cold night.
You Are Pulled from the Wreckage
“In the arms of the angel, fly away from here, from this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear. You are pulled from the wreckage, of your silent reverie. You’re in the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort there.”
And that’s, really, what your life has been, a train wreck of epic proportions, twisted metal, jagged edges, and torn psyche. How is it possible for one person to err so often, you think, as your hands reach out for relief from the pain, the loneliness, the torment that is you. Drink it down, light it up, shoot it in, just find a way to escape, escape, running on empty as the last glimpse of hope fades from view.
One is too many and one-hundred never enough. You scream but no one hears. You cry but no one sees. Your feelings drip from you as wax from a flame, pooling in the bottom of the vessel that is you.
May you find some comfort here.
And the Storm Keeps on Twisting
“So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn, there’s vultures and thieves at your back. And the storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lie that you make up for all that you lack. It don’t make no difference, escaping one last time, it’s easier to believe in this sweet madness.”
Once you are caught in that maelstrom, you are in for one hell of a ride, so buckle up, grab the hand-holds, and grit your teeth. The troughs are deep, and one wave after another will wash over you, threaten to drown you, then lift you up to the next crest, just high enough to give you some semblance of hope, only to drop you down to the depths again.
Just one more drink and things will be all right. Just one more fix, one more needle, one more toke, one more overeating binge, one more cut on flesh, one more overindulgence with sex, one more, one more, one more….but the demons only leave for a short break, then return with a vengeance, demanding more of you, devouring more of you, and eventually leave you when there is nothing more to take, your carcass stripped so bare that even the buzzards ignore you and fly by.
You’re in the Arms of the Angel
Only then will the angels appear. Only then will two choices be made known to you. You can suckle on the breast of the dark angels, and willingly accept the obsidian blackness that they offer, and finally breathe your last breath, or you can reach a desperate hand out to the angels of light, seek help, beg for help, cry to the gods and the stars to save you, pull you back from the precipice, and make you whole again.
One choice leads to an end to the suffering and the miserable life you have led. One choice leads to salvation and self-love. One is the easy choice, taken by thousands every year. One choice requires the demanding bastards of self-reflection and willingness, and there is nothing easy about it.
But the payout is huge if you open door number two.
It is life!
My Thanks to Sarah Mclachlan
“In the Arms of an Angel” was a song written and recorded by Sarah McLachlan for her 1997 album “Surfacing.” It was inspired by the death of a musician, from heroin overdose, on the band Smashing Pumpkins. She said she identified with the feelings that might lead someone to use heroin, where you are “so lost that you don’t know who you are anymore, and you’re miserable, and here’s this escape route.” Ultimately, she said, the song is about loving yourself.
It is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. This past weekend I celebrated eight years of sobriety. I know all about the darkness. I have embraced it and yes, for awhile, it gave me comfort…but then….the comfort was gone and I was left with only misery…and a choice.
If you are suffering from addiction, I wish you peace, and may the kinder, gentler angels spread their wings and give you comfort.
My thanks to McLachlan for the inspiration for this essay.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)