Jackie McLean of the indie band Roan Yellowthorn grants us an inside look at the making of an album from start to finish in her ‘Breaking The Record’ column.
Watch: ‘I’m Enough’ – Roan Yellowthorn
Last week, I wrote about my enduring experience with domestic abuse; thirty years of narcissistic mental and emotional abuse by my father.
It was, hands down, the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Publishing that article was something I never thought I’d be brave enough to do. The experiences I allude to are the seed of my deepest fear, my deepest shame, and my deepest grief. They are also the center of my own insecurities and psychic challenges.
And I didn’t expect a response. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. My frantic brain imagined judgment and condemnation. But the call to speak was too strong. It was an act of self preservation. I knew I had to do something or else continue to die a slow death of the soul.
There was a response. And it’s been awe-inspiring. It’s made me feel like I jumped into a chasm – and was caught by hundreds of hands. Holding me.
I can’t describe the healing effects of that.
Just jumping into the Breaking The Record series documenting the making of our album from start to finish? Read part 1
Thank you to everyone. Thank you for reading my story. Thank you for sharing it with friends who are suffering or have suffered, too. Thank you for reaching out with kind words and telling me your own stories and experiences. Thank you. I can’t tell you how healing it feels to have those feelings outside of me – and how healing it is to feel held accepted now. It feels like a brand new page. Like my life is finally about to begin. Like it’s finally my own.
I can’t thank you enough.
Maybe for the first time ever, I can see a light ahead. It’s the start of the journey.
Growing up, my father would tell me that he was like a God. That he would never die. That he had psychic powers. That he knew things others didn’t. That no one could touch him, compete with him, hurt him, change him, or defeat him. I believed he could control the world with his mind. That he had the power to give or take anything away. He told the story of his rise to fame like a parable. To think that anyone else had a story, a voice, a purpose was not a consideration.
My household was like a cult – everyone lived in fear, walking on eggshells, erasing themselves and bending over backwards to make sure he was placated. You never knew what to expect. His rage was a constant threat and a force of unspeakable destruction. I was often the target. That threat has followed me into adulthood. His rage has not subsided. If anything, it’s grown.
My whole life, I’ve felt like he was trying to crush me. Like my existence was an aberration. Like he wanted me to stop existing. I’ve worried about my physical safety many times.
When I started showing creative and musical ambition, he told me that I shouldn’t put myself out there too much. He told me that people would get tired of me if they saw me too often. He told me that I was ‘a late bloomer’ and that it would be better if I just did my art for myself and didn’t try to make it into a career. Once I had kids, he told me that I should forget about it outright – it was probably impossible. He’s never asked to hear my songs. He’s never seen me perform. He got angry when I told him I’d been signed to a label. He acted like I’d stepped out of my place.
He told me that women couldn’t contribute to society. He told me that we were ‘a footnote’ in history. He told me that, maybe, I’d make a good assistant to someone someday. His constant comments about my appearance and my body made me feel like I was a defective commodity.
He told me not to trust anyone. He told me that, if anyone acted like they cared about me, it was probably just to get close to him. He told me that he didn’t love me unconditionally – he seemed to take pride in that. As a child, I went to his concerts and saw a sea of people cheering for him. He told me if I didn’t obey him, he’d leave. I thought he’d take the whole world with him.
Yesterday, I began the process of legally notifying my father that I want no further contact with him. Once that’s done, I will celebrate. I will feel free. It’s a step I probably should have taken years ago. It’s long overdue. But sharing my story and feeling so much love and support in return has made me feel strong and confident enough to do it. Thank you so much for that.
And next week, I’ll be releasing a new single. It’s called ‘I’m Enough.’ Writing this song was one of the things that put pressure on me to speak out. I am honest in my music. And feeling that disconnect – that dissonance – between what I was writing and singing about and what I was actually living was one of the things that caused me enough psychic pain to take the leap.
I wrote ‘I’m Enough’ as an anthem. It’s about being enough. About being comfortable in your own skin.
In this song, I sing about how I’m enough. I sing about how I’m enough for me and enough for you. But I didn’t believe that while I was writing it. I tried to believe it. But I didn’t.
All of that is changing now. I am enough. And I’m feeling it more and more every day. You are enough. If you grew up in a home where domestic violence was occurring, if are experiencing emotional abuse or if you have in the past, that leaves scars. I know about it all too well. I know that it breaks you down. I know that it makes you feel like you can’t do anything right. Like you’re bound to fail. Like you won’t ever be enough. That voice is a lie. Don’t listen to it.
Listen to the voice that tells the truth. The voice that tells you that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. The voice that tells you that the light you see in others is the light that is in you. The voice that tells you that, no matter what you’ve been through, you are worthy of love and happiness and health. The voice that tells you that you should never be made to feel small and unworthy and unlovable. You are light. You are beauty. You are sacred. You are enough.
This song is for you.
Watch: ‘I’m Enough’ – Roan Yellowthorn
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📸 © Jackie McLean
:: Breaking the Record ::