CW: This entire blog post discusses domestic abuse, sexual violence, and severe emotional manipulation at length and in triggering detail.
“The little fucker had thrown my papers all over the floor. All I tried to do was pull him up… a momentary loss of muscular coordination.”
Jack Torrance, The Shining.
The woman who raised me had seemingly few qualms about shrieking her disapproval at me several times per day. Usually she accomplished her purpose with words, but sometimes she would punctuate her castigations with a punitive strike of her hand. It was unclear to me what this accomplished beyond making me afraid of my own parent. If that was her purpose, she succeeded impressively.
In the summer of 2015, I learned that there was a familial precedent for my birth-giver’s violent tendencies. For a couple months, I stayed with her parents while she worked abroad. After a minor argument in which I told the family that an extended episode of severe depression would impair my ability to join the family on a daytrip, my grandfather trailed me to my guest bedroom and aggressively pushed me through the door. As I attempted to raise myself from the floor and understand what had just happened, my grandfather stormed into the room, leaned on the floor, and pinned me down with his thumb close enough to my windpipe to be threatening. I recall little of the following altercation, except for when I was called an “evil little shit,” “an unruly child,” and worth reporting to the police. When the cops eventually arrived at the house (a process that entailed my grandfather disconnecting the landline while I barricaded myself in my room as my then-mother pounded on the door and begged me not to call the police), they concurred with my family. I was told later that my ambiguously defined ill behavior was out of line and repeat incidents could call for juvenile detention. The event was left unaddressed.
Months later, my birth-giver pressured me into emailing her father an apology. At that point, I acquiesced to the idea that I was a delinquent whose behavior disrupted and hurt the whole family. It felt like a resolution. I was at peace with my family, insofar as one can maintain a truce with a person who remorselessly assaulted them. The fatuousness of viewing abuse stories as having a clear-cut beginning or ending did not occur to me. I could do nothing but retreat inward and shrink, hoping desperately that I could be small enough to escape from the small-minded capriciousness of the people who should have raised me.
The Dreaming sees Kate Bush turning towards an epistemological centering of subconscious and repressed emotions. It calls to the listener, inviting them to unleash their trauma, rage, and fear in torrents of vital and horrible catharsis. Bush reveals that the adolescent optimism of her previous albums, while real and legitimate, masked deep-rooted emotions beyond neophyte positivity and bravado. While those other albums (particularly the doleful Lionheart and sometimes Delphic Never for Ever) contain great darkness themselves, The Dreaming sees Bush unleashing the id, allowing the powerful emotiveness of her work to reveal its full breadth and ability to be furious, wretchedly disconsolate, and full of hurt.…