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A chronic pain playlist

feel your feelings

I talk about my feelings a lot. I think it’s because one of the things I do best is talk to other people about their feelings. I’m a two on the enneagram, an INFJ or ENFJ (depending on the day), and a Pisces, all of which is nonsense. The point is this: if you’re having a bad day, I’m a good person to talk to. And if I’m having a bad day, I’m usually pretty willing to unpack it with you.

But lately, I have been feeling thoroughly tired: the kind of tired that isn’t about sleep, but about rest. I have spent most of 2019 coming to terms with the fact that chronic pain will be a part of my life for the rest of my life, and that process has often looked a lot like grief. Anyone who has experienced grief knows that it’s exhausting. Anyone whose body hurts all the time knows that chronic pain is exhausting. And anyone who has been at Duke for four years knows that Duke is exhausting.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done this year, grieving a future I wish looked different, while also doing all that I need to do to be a senior at Duke. But I don’t have the energy right now to do even what I do best. So instead of talking about my feelings this week, I’d like to share one of the things that helps me process those feelings: an impeccable, annotated, playlist. Like the snacks I mentioned briefly in my previous column, music does not cure chronic pain; nothing does. But it certainly helps.

And sure, my music taste is a deeply niche cross between that of a 40-year-old mom who really liked Glee and wishes she pursued theater after high school and a white hipster mandolin-player who voted for Bernie in 2016 but was big into her Christian youth group in high school. These songs resonate with a very particular person, and that person is me. I hope you enjoy these selections (and my longer playlist) anyway, but more importantly, I hope you create your own playlist, full of your own weird music, for the days you want to sing about your feelings instead of talk about them, too.

  1. “When It Don’t Come Easy,” by Patty Griffin: This song is the equivalent of your mom giving you a hug when you’re already about to cry. Don’t be nice to me, Patty Griffin! I will get snot all over your shoulder! Think of it as a warm-up jam...for your feelings.
  2. “Rainbow,” by Kacey Musgraves: I once heard an a cappella group sing this at a queer-led church service and made eye contact with a woman across the room who, like me, was weeping. That’s all you need to know about this song.
  3. “Landslide,” by The Dixie Chicks OR by Fleetwood Mac: Why not both? In a row? On repeat for several days?
  4. “Hallelujah,” by Brandi Carlile: Last time I listened to Brandi Carlile for several consecutive hours, I got a text from my best friend that read, “Your Spotify says you’ve been listening to Brandi Carlile all day. Are you okay?” No! I’m not! No one is okay at the end of this song! It’s time to move into the yelling portion of our emotional processing! Let it happen!
  5. “Not Ready to Make Nice,” by The Dixie Chicks: What are you mad at? The world? Great. The Dixie Chicks are mad at George Bush and the country music establishment and the military industrial complex. They get you.
  6. “All Too Well,” by Taylor Swift: I’ve never had a heart-wrenching break-up with Jake Gyllenhal, but “You call me up again just to break me like a promise?” “So casually cruel in the name of being honest?” I’m overwhelmed.
  7. “Firewood,” by Regina Spector: Lest you feel hopeless following Taylor Swift’s most emotional fall ballad, Regina Spektor is here to give you a light at the end of the tunnel.
  8. “All That You Have Is Your Soul,” by Tracy Chapman and “Fire,” by Kimya Dawson: While each excellent on their own, this dynamic duo is here to remind you that things can be hard and hopeful at the same time. When the world is falling apart, I like to put them back to back in my queue 14 or so times. Try it, and let your soul be soothed.
  9. “You Will Be Found,” by the Original Broadway Cast of Dear Evan Hansen and “No One is Alone,” by the Glee Cast: The adults who write musicals about high schoolers really understand what I need to hear right now. And what I need to hear right now is a grown adult, playing a child, tell me that I’m going to be okay.
  10. “I’m Here,” by Cynthia Erivo: Cynthia Erivo is so important. The Color Purple is so important. This song is a gift to the universe, and it is a gift to me every time I listen to it. On its own, it’s earth-shaking; performed for Oprah and the Obamas at the Kennedy Center Honors, it’s no longer of this world
  11. “Rise Up,” by Andra Day: Remember when this was on the radio all the time? Why did we stop letting that happen? No song makes me feel more empowered. 
  12. “F*ckin Perfect” by P!nk: I cannot stress how important it is to listen to this song uncensored. 2010 Liddy needed the clean version, and 2019 Liddy needs the uncensored version. 
  13. “Soulmate,” by Lizzo: It’s hard to love a body that hurts all the time. For the 2 minutes and 55 seconds of this song, I do.
  14. “Love on Top,” by Beyoncé: Save this song for the moment that you no longer want to think about the hard thing, and instead want to try to sing along with Beyoncé as she ascends to heaven via infinite key changes. Best done with a friend who doesn’t mind if your voice is cracking. You know, from all the feelings.

Liddy Grantland is a Trinity senior who can’t wait to see how weird her “Top Songs of 2019” Spotify playlist is. Her column, “feel your feelings,” runs on alternate Mondays.

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