I don’t know how to deal with this either. I’ve seen a wide range of people trying to cope with this. Some through telling the good stories and listening to and appreciating the music. Then there are some who are completely devastated. I am one of those people. And I don’t know how to cope so I’m writing this in the hopes that maybe if I get my story out there with people who might understand, other people can join as well and we can try to process this together.
In 25 years on this planet I’ve endured more pain and trauma than any human being should in 10 lifetimes. I’ll spare you all most of the details, but the worst of it happened January 2013 when I was almost killed and it broke me. I had been assaulted before and already had PTSD, but this was the last straw. I broke. My mind broke. I became severely agoraphobic to the point where I couldn’t even walk out to the mailbox to get the mail. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through.
I’ll admit I had a falling out with Linkin Park. They were a staple in my life as a teenager. My brother introduced me to them when I was still a kid, at maybe 10 or 11 years old. I fell in love with Minutes to Midnight and listened to their music and Paramore’s religiously through middle and high school. They helped get me through years of self-harm, antidepressant side effects, and suicide attempts. But after the first assault when I was 18 I couldn’t bring myself to listen to anything even almost “heavy” sounding because that’s what was playing while it happened. I had completely missed LT and THP and didn’t listen to them until the beginning of this year. I’ve been doing better. Every day is still a battle. I haven’t been able to be around large crowds or people I don’t know or go a lot of places still but I’ve been fighting harder than I’ve ever fought.
When I saw LP had a new album coming out this year it drew me back in. I had gotten back into listening to old favorites like Bleed it Out and The Messenger but I actually committed to it. I bought all of their albums and I sat down and listened and it felt like being greeted by an old friend. I was hooked. I got to Living Things and my heart swooned over how incredible it is and I kicked myself that I had gone 5 years without it in my life. And then I saw they were going on tour and I made myself a promise.
For four and a half years I’ve lived without dreams or anything to look forward to. They all seemed impossible to me and that’s why these years have been the hardest in my life. Before, despite all the shit I had gone through, there was still hope. There was still a chance to experience those little moments of pure bliss. Like standing on top of a volcano watching the sunrise or being in the front of the pit at a concert and having the guitarist point to me and toss me a guitar pick in the middle of the set. They are the beacons of light that shine so brightly it makes you unable to even fathom what darkness is. When I broke, when I had been unable to leave my house for 2 years, I lost all hope of ever experiencing that again. I gave up on having dreams until a few months ago.
I became obsessed with LP. I joined LPU, I binge watched LPTV and basically any concert that had been professionally recorded. Their music brought me a happiness I hadn’t felt in years. I watched interviews and fell in love with each of the guys individually. I saw the people in the band for the first time instead of just the band. I saw how kind and generous and compassionate they all are. And I made it my dream to meet them and thank them for how much they’ve impacted my life. I made it a goal to be able to go to their concert when they came to my state. That day I went and I got a gym membership and started eating healthy so I could be in good physical shape to go to the concert in hopes that my mental state would follow. I was so excited to have something to focus on and look forward to in the future again. It lit a fire in me that I thought had burned out ages ago.
It wasn’t all just sunshine and rainbows after that though. My mental health took a turn for the worse. I had dealt with dissociation in small bits before, but I ended up going through it for six weeks. I felt nothing at all. No emotions. It wasn’t until I was watching a LP concert from this current tour when Chester went down in the crowd and sang One More Light and Crawling that I finally broke down. I bawled for hours, overwhelmed by a flood of emotions I hadn’t been able to feel. I connected with it to the very core of my being.
Over the years there have been so many moments where I’d listen to a Linkin Park song and feel like there was finally someone who understood the pain I had gone through. Chester held my hand and guided me through the darkness I thought would never end. He stayed up with me on the nights when I didn’t think I would make it to morning. He was there for me when no one else was and always knew just what to say to keep me fighting. He was the best friend I had never met and I will always regret not being able to thank him and tell him how much he means to me.
So now I’m sitting here, emotionally drained and physically exhausted, writing this because I don’t know where to turn. My brain doesn’t know what else to do except cry because the pain in my chest will not subside. If his loss has this big of an impact on me, I can’t even imagine what the rest of the guys and his family and friends are going through. My heart breaks for all of them. He was one of a kind and I miss him more than even I can comprehend. This hole in my heart feels like it will never be filled. Where do you turn when the music that helped get you through is now what brings you the most pain?
If you’re still reading, thank you for listening. If you have a story you need to get off your chest, please let it out here. If you have advice on how to stop feeling like you’re going to crumble in a million pieces at any second, please let me know because I don’t know how to function with this much pain. I feel like I’ve lost a best friend and a dream all at once.
If anyone needs me, I’ll do my best to help. We can get through this together.