Monday afternoon we recorded the lead vocal tracks for Fiona at Jesse Owen Astin‘s home studio.
The day started out rough right from the start, waking up with sinus and throat problems from pollen. Add nervousness to the mix: hoping and praying I can do what is necessary for the best possible final product, all the while knowing there are two lines in this song which totally stretch my voice way past comfortable and into down-right difficult on a good day. (No pressure!)
So while I’m trying to keep myself in check and remember that I can only do my best, the morning proceeds to get rockier. I’m supposed to be getting ready to head to the studio when my emotions begin careening all over the map–from normal to weepy to angry to intolerant and back again. (Lucky, Paul. 😛 )
But wait… there’s more!
We finally arrive at Jesse’s and all is going as well as can be expected… right up until Jesse asks me for more emotion. Well, this is exactly what Heidi, my vocal coach, keeps yapping at me about. (Doh!) Emotion is the difference between a good performance and something memorable that really impacts people. Unfortunately, this is probably one of my biggest musical weaknesses right now when I perform.
My heart is wide open when I write. That’s how I know when I’m onto something good: it makes me cry. But after that initial blast of emotion, I often have a hard time reconnecting later during showtime.
For the sake of the song though, I commit to totally “digging in” and mustering the full depth of the lyrics. I know I will need all of my pain, all of my anger, everything that Fiona is made of. I set my intention to get out of my head and into my heart (and call in a little Divine assistance for help).
We start the song again and the magic begins. But so do the tears.
I made it through the first verse, but as the chorus began I couldn’t sing. I tried, but I couldn’t get anything out except a word here or there as I began sobbing uncontrollably.
Paul has seen me go through this before. Every spring since my first flashback in 2012 (coincidentally nearly simultaneous to releasing my first album), I have had at least one major episode of repressed memories breaking through, bringing lots of pain but also lots of healing.
Last year was particularly gruesome, but luckily this time I was not processing any new personal memories. I was just deeply feeling the words of the song and understanding the pain and fear these children go through. It breaks my heart knowing this happens every day to so many who are too small or too afraid to be able to do anything about it.
Another wave of sadness and tears poured through me, dropping me to the floor in a sobbing heap.
It was embarrassing. It was painful. And unfortunately, it’s part of the process.
Paul was great, as always. (Thank you, hon!)
Jesse dealt with it amazingly well. I felt pretty terrible for making him a witness to my meltdown with no warning at all. But he was so kind, compassionate and real. And when I was picking up the pieces and getting ready to get back to work, he said something really helpful that I will remember for the rest of my life–every time I perform this song.
He said, “When you’re singing, don’t only focus on the sadness and the pain. That’s only the beginning of the song. By the end, what you’re offering is hope and healing. Find your emotion and embrace it without letting it overwhelm you. You’re strong; now share that strength. Show them what it’s like on the other side of healing.”
And for the first time since I wrote the song, I understood the line “Welcome home, Fiona!” Up until then, it had never completely made sense to me even though I knew it was important. The only inkling I had about what “home” meant in the song was that it was a safe place.
But that afternoon, I got it! I felt for these kids, the “victims of selfish love”. The idea of bringing them home to a family who loves and cares for them, a family who protects and supports them, a family who understands them because we have also experienced their pain, is like wrapping my arms around all of these wounded children and teens and welcoming them into a fold of safety and care.
It felt good, healing and necessary.
To all of you who have ever been the victim of any level of sexual inappropriateness as a child, Welcome Home. You are precious. You are worthy. And you are not alone. There are survivors all around you that you can reach out to for help. (Or, if you are already on the healing side of this devastating experience, reach out as a helping hand to someone else who’s still in need.)
Wherever you are in your journey, get involved and save a child–whether that’s yourself or someone else.
*If you are a survivor or a family member of a survivor and are willing to share your story, contact me. Only our voices will help us heal and encourage others to know they are not alone. Resources are available. But we have to break the silence.
**For more information about healing resources or how to get involved, see TheFionaProject.org. Updates will be coming soon.
Note to Jesse Owen Astin:
I apologize if my quote is a less than eloquent paraphrasing of what you shared with me on Monday. 😉 But I got the point! Thank you!!!