Music and PTSD

Trigger warning: this post briefly speaks about sexual assault

Music is a very interesting thing. Just a few simple notes can be enough to bring you great joy or extreme sadness. It can bring back memories, good or bad, from a certain time or event from your past. As much as music is great, I often find that a lot of my old favourites now bring old traumas to surface.

I used to be a huge Post Malone fan. I’d even seen him live – and I haven’t seen many artists live. I used to know all of his lyrics, album release dates, interviews… you name it. Until I started a new job. This job was in sales, always full of sleazy f*ckers. One of my colleagues was a similar age to me and we had a lot in common. I still hate admitting how well we got along to this day. He wasn’t as stuck up as the rest and actually seemed human. Oh how a misjudgement that was…

He only lasted in my life for two months. In that time, he manipulated himself into my home, had raped my 16 year old friend (he was 22) and had raped me 3 times. I knew he fancied me from day one so I always made it clear that I had no interest in him in the most respectful way possible. His little trick was to have a drunken night in. Except his victim is the only one getting drunk. He’d pour extra shots in your glass with the excuse that he was a lightweight so you needed more than him to stay on the same level. His weak drinks would last for hours before he’d pour the next. In that time you’d have about 4 very strong drinks.

The first thing that got the two of us talking was our love for Post Malone. We would always have his albums on repeat when hanging out. I remember he released an album not long after we met. Every time he raped me it was to ‘Beerbongs and Bentleys’. My favourite song used to be Candy Paint. I will never forget the last time had his wicked way with me. He finished his dirty deed and noticed that song was playing. I remember him rolling over and saying ‘oh it’s your favourite song! I bet I’ve ruined it now!’. He said this as a joke, like he was pretending that he hadn’t just done such an unspeakable thing.

I have since avoided that entire album and that particular song. It wasn’t until writing out this post that I realised how much I have subconsciously avoided the artist. Funnily enough, it was Post Malone’s next album that brings me to my second point.

As much as I avoided his music, this was more of a subconscious agenda. So when he released his next album, I was still following and listening to all of the song releases. Just with less passion and excitement. The one thing I always loved about Post is that, when he releases a new album, the content is always relevant to that point in my life.

‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ was released as I was coming towards the end of my abusive relationship last year. It really helped me to process what happened with the breakup and feel empowered. As soon as I had finished processing what I could in that time, I moved on to other music. Then as time passed, I found myself removing those songs from my playlists, realising that they now reminded me of a very traumatic breakup. At least that was the case until I remembered something my ex had said.

It was just a few days after our breakup. Even despite him getting me arrested, I was still wanting him back. I found myself still stuck in his spell of manipulation and running straight back to him, so there I found myself leaping into his arms again. I was getting ready to have a girls night in with a friend. I had just spent the previous night at his so was doing my makeup before leaving. I was excited by my newfound single freedom. He wasn’t trying to stop me from going to see a friend and drink like he usually would. He was still using some manipulative tactics by trying to keep me there for as long as he could but he knew he couldn’t flat out tell me not to go.

He was being really needy and kept trying to get my attention to slow down my makeup routine. Going on about how much he’d miss me whilst I was at this friend’s. This whole time I was listening to this new Post Malone album. A good number of songs in the album were so clearly about leaving an abusive ex and regaining that power with the control you get back. I was loving the lyrics and singing along. Those lyrics actually allowed me the space to recognise exactly what he was doing. Instead of falling for his words and dreading leaving him, I was instead excited to get out there and away from him.

But, what really did it for me was when ‘a Thousand Bad Times’ came on. If you’re not familiar with the lyrics, Google them. It related exactly to the situation at the time. He heard me singing the along and suddenly his entire demeanour changed. He actually asked me to change the song and walked out of the room. It gave me all of the clarification I could possibly need.

I recently listened to this song again, it came on by chance. Where I was expecting flashbacks, I instead found myself laughing. I remembered how he had reacted. He thought he was all big and great when he had this power over me, watching all of that crumble with just one song was – well it’s hard to find the correct word for it. Hugely satisfying, relieving, consolidating. This ‘man’, who had very nearly abused everything that made me myself out of me, realising that he had in fact failed. Devastatingly and embarrassingly failed.

The song now makes me feel amazing. It’s all the evidence I need to know that he was in fact an abusive c*nt. No matter how much he tried to make me feel like I was the problem, like I was crazy, I had definitive proof this whole time that those words were so wrong.

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