Before the song dominated the various avenues for listening to music these days, somebody paraphrased Gotye to me recently.
"It hurts now. But someday he will just be someone you used to be married to."
I never want Ben to be "just" that somebody that I used to know. In fact, I am certain that he won't be. My certainty stems from the fact that as someone who loves deeply and passionately, the people that I have allowed myself to fall in love with in the past have never been reduced to just someone I used to know. I think of them all and I wish them well.
But I understand the song's popularity, after many a break-up where I wanted to just shake the former significant other and tell them, "It didn't have to be this way! Why? Why are you making this harder than it has to be?"
At the end of the day, Ben is more than just a break-up, more than just an ex-husband, more than just somebody that I used to know. He is the father of my child. He is the man that I stood before God and my family and friends with, pouring out my heart in unending commitment. I meant those words, and to shrink him down to just somebody that I used to know not only reduces his value but it makes me a liar. We are Ben and Andrea, and we loved each other very much. I say those words often, because the days when that love was enough seem so far away that I need the vocal reminder that it wasn't really so long ago.
Two songs play in my mind these days: Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," and Ben Folds Five's "Brick." Someone asked me if I know what "Brick" is about, and for those that don't know, it's the story of a man's experience in supporting his girlfriend through an abortion. I heard Ben Folds in an interview once say that the song is not supposed to be political, it just tells a story. It doesn't argue for one side or the other. I have always loved the simple story-telling of this incredibly poignant song -- so powerful that few people seem to mind the limits of Ben Folds' vocal range. Of course, I argue that if the song tells us one thing, it is that we don't want to feel the way the couple in the song feels.
The chorus shares the speaker's thoughts, "She's a brick and I'm drowning, slowly." As it turns out, the abortion didn't fix everything. I have always maintained that without saying so, the song is pro-life, which is why I am so confused that these days I feel like the brick. I did what I assert is right -- and right is right, even if no one is doing it -- yet I feel so heavy and often feel that I have anchored my husband in a grief that is drowning him. When I accepted the heavy cross that we were undertaking, I don't think I was completely aware of its weight. When I rejoiced in the unexpected ten days I spent with my son, I don't think I had any idea how heavy the aftermath would be.
In "Brick," the couple's breaking point comes because they are tired. Just tired.
Morning after morning, I wake after what should be sufficient hours of sleep and struggle to get out of bed. I struggle to get through the day lately, although there is no real reason why I should.
I am simply tired. I am tired from drowning, slowly.