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7 Seconds

7 Seconds is very easily my most personal song to date, at least lyrically. In the last couple of years it’s come to my attention that pretty much all of the mental health struggles that I was taught to attribute to chemical imbalances and genetic predispositions are probably mostly just different symptoms of complex PTSD.

For those who are unfamiliar, C-PTSD refers to a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which develops in response to exposure to a series of traumatic events, specifically in a context in which the individual perceives little or no chance of escape, and particularly where the exposure is prolonged or repetitive. Unlike PTSD, C-PTSD is not defined by the occurrence of one particular instance of trauma, and is not recognized by the DSM-5 as a psychiatric disorder. It’s often misdiagnosed or diagnosed in comorbidity with other disorders. It’s treatable, but there’s not really any quick fix to offer relief to those who suffer from it.

It has been an ongoing process to realize how much of the hurdles I’ve faced in my life can be traced back to a pattern of repeated childhood trauma. Every day I realize new ways in which enduring such traumas during a crucial period of my emotional and intellectual development led to a warped view of the world, myself, and my interpersonal relationships. Every day I must practice compassion for the ways that my younger self was failed by the world around me and manage the rage I feel toward this profound injustice.

I actually don’t remember much of my childhood. I remember scattered moments of joy that feel sort of far away like they were experienced by a totally different person. They’re all shrouded in this overwhelming sense of dread that I recall being near constant. From a very young age I felt trapped in my existence, incapable of believing promises that I’d someday feel relief, let alone consistent safety and security. I used to imagine some kind of larger-than-life human or spiritual being that would nurture me and provide reassurance that felt believable, some kind of tangible closeness to a figure bigger and wiser than my small scared self.

In some ways, I feel that I am still that small scared child, suspended forever in fear and loneliness and uncertainty, pickled in a brine of confused juvenile teardrops. In other ways, I feel that from very early on I was forced to be that very nurturing figure, to put on a brave face that felt so old for my age, to provide that reassurance for myself. I think I’m composed of two selves—one which is perpetually emotionally stunted, constantly needing care from the other self, who was never given the chance to be scared or sad or needy and who had to mature so much faster than they were ready to.

This song was an attempt to play the role of a mediator between these two selves, to sit them both down and give them the space they never felt they had to feel young and old, weak and strong at the same time, rather than let myself continue to careen back and forth between the two in a whiplash-inducing way wherein I can never find balance, can never feel truly whole or present.

I tried, with 7 Seconds, to give strength to the vulnerable one, to let them borrow sternness and power from the stoic one, while transversely offering softness to the other. I tried to capture the anger that I feel on behalf of both of them and of anyone who can relate to this struggle, especially to those who were socialized in their youth to believe that their bodies were those of adults when they were not, but that their minds were those of children when they were really never given the chance to be.

I wish I could believe in my own call-to-action to “run it down”, so to speak. I wish I could believe that thunder will come imminently, but to be honest with you, I don’t. I don’t believe that there will be a reckoning for people like us—not now, not in seven seconds, not ever. The pain of that hopelessness is what I tried to capture in 7 Seconds. I aspire for someone out there to find, if not hope, solidarity in my story.

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