This article was sent to us by a woman who was so inspired by another article we published that she wanted to share this very intense and intimate story with us. She asked to remain anonymous and we respect her wishes.
How a Guitar Saved My Life!by a woman/guitarist/mother who wishes to remain anonymous
This is a story about how a guitar can change a life. No, that’s not quite right. It’s really a story about how a guitar saved my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s not how this story begins. It begins with "Once Upon a Time," as all well-told stories do, and with conflict and tragedy
After 15 years of becoming quite comfortable being married to a man I loved and respected and experiencing the joy of being mother to our son, our lives were forever changed one night by crushing pains in my husband’s chest. Although doctors performed routine angioplasty surgery and painted illusions of a "happily ever after" storybook ending with promises of a quick recovery and better-than-ever health, that’s not how this story’s plot unfolds.
Over the course of the next twenty months, I did my best to nurse my husband, work full-time from my home office, manage our personal business matters and shoulder full responsibility for our 13-year-old son. I had to watch my husband–my best friend, the caring father of my son, and the most talented and smartest man I ever met–deteriorate, physically, emotionally, and mentally, as my attempts to find a doctor to correctly diagnose and treat his condition failed. He was hospitalized eleven times during his illness, the majority of which began with a frantic call to the paramedics. As his physical condition waned, his mental and emotional health followed. He became extremely depressed and would vacillate between episodes of depression, rages of anger and remorse. Although untreated until the last three months of his life, he had developed bipolar disorder (also called manic depressive). As in the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he would transform from the wonderful person I had loved and admired into a monster that kept my son and I isolated–captive in a state terror.
At first he would remember the rages and would become severely remorse and depressed afterward, but eventually he didn’t remember the rages anymore and our lives were reduced to just trying to cope with each day as it came. During an episode of depression, he tried to end his life by shooting himself, only to change his mind at the last minute, blasting a one-inch hole in the bedroom wall. My son and I sat paralyzed by fear in another room, knowing what the loud boom was, pushing the thought of what we might find out of our minds, and fearing that the depression would turn into anger directed towards us. All three of us suffered a great deal of emotional pain as our family deteriorated. Neither my son or I will forget the sound of my scream when I found my husband dead after passing away in his sleep. My son suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder and can no longer remember the kind and loving father his dad had been prior to his illness. I have grieved over the loss of my one-true-love, puzzled over why it had to happen to me, worried about the future of my son, and faced the reality of being over 50 and alone.
By now you may be saying to yourself "That’s a sad tale, but what does that have to do with music?" To that I reply, "There really is a happy ending to this tale of woe and it’s all about music." Shortly after my husband became ill, he told us that he wanted to take up playing music to keep himself occupied. With high hopes that it would raise his spirits, my son and I filled the house with musical instruments–saxophones, flutes, guitars, and a keyboard. Three months before my husband’s death, I bought a guitar for myself….
Now to the good part. The part where the guitar saves the heroin of this story’s life. (Okay, so I’m not a heroin, but it sounded good!) After my husband’s death (two years after the nightmare began), I looked in the mirror and wondered what the hell happened to me. Obese, out of shape, feeling mentally and physically exhausted, with symptoms of newly-diagnosed diabetes, lonely and sinking into a pit of depression from which I feared there would be no escape. I knew I had to do something or the remainder of my life wouldn’t be worth living. So, I found a guitar teacher and signed up for weekly lessons thinking that would at least get me out of the house. At first, I just showed up each week, knowing that I hadn’t practiced at all. But I kept on showing up and little by little my life has been transformed.
Playing guitar makes me happy! In fact, I’ve named the studio where I take guitar lessons "The Happiest Place on Earth." Music must make other people happy too because my guitar teacher is the happiest person I’ve ever met. I love my guitar and have bought several more to keep it company. I practice as much as I can.up to four to six hours each day. The amazing part of this story is that the happiness I found playing the guitar has spread through all aspects of my life. I try each day to make happiness my top priority, I’ve lost 105 pounds, overcome diabetes, do Pilates for exercise, just bought a bicycle, and swear I look at least ten or fifteen years younger. Oh, and did I mention that I’m reaching out, actively searching for a band to join and looking for friends to jam with? Or that my musical goal is to play lead guitar in a progressive metal band? And here’s the kicker.my son started taking guitar lessons shortly after I did and now has his sights set on attending Julliard to major in composition. Guess I’ll have to give that guitar credit for saving two lives!
Don’t get me wrong.life’s not perfect. I still grieve for my husband, worry about my son, have normal mid-50’s aches and pains, occasionally get frustrated over the search for band mates, and have days when I’m down or feel lonely, but life is worth living. And when I get blue, I just go do what I like best.play my guitar.
My love affair with guitars began when I was 52 and was the catalyst that helped me through personal tragedy. Music and the path I’m pursing to perform is now my passion. I hope that sharing my story will inspire those that, for whatever reason, believe they cannot change their lives. All that’s required is action, even a small one, to start the ball rolling. Mine was making the phone call to inquire about guitar lessons. What’s yours?
** I met the writer of this article and she is truly remarkable. Plus becoming a fine guitarist. **