Bohemian Rhapsody

“People are always asking me what my lyrics mean. Well I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work:if you see it, darling, then it’s there.”

“True poetry is for the listener.”

Freddie Mercury was a genius in every way. I truly admire him and love his music so much. Most of his songs have touched me in one or another throughout my life. It’s like he could see into my soul because I was even born. His lyrics are just beyond awesome and express so much of what’s inside my soul.

But no Freddie/Queen song hits me like Bohemian Rhapsody does. I have read so many interpretations of what people think he was writing about-coming out, suicide, death in general, pain, trauma. But what I hear is not as much as just the lyrics at face value, but the entire listening experience and where I feel the emotions coming from. They come from a deep place where the pain goes to hide.

Freddie is describing the process that those of us who are self-destructive go through when we are in an episode of deep pain. For me, the lyrics are secondary to the music, although they most definitely compliment the music of each section.

Part one lyrics:

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landside,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to
Me, to me

Part feels like life is mostly normal, but the pain is creeping in. It feels surreal because I was fine and I thought things were going well. Until they weren’t. I didn’t plan to go down the road of self destruction but I can see that I am suddenly headed there from this place of peace I was in, where I was just going through life and felt pretty good. I was letting all the little things in life go and then this pain has suddenly reached a level there I can feel that well worn path of self destruction sliding in front of me again. The wind has blown me away from the peace and easy going way I was just living.

Part two:

Just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger,
Now he’s dead
Mamaaa, life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
Mama, oooh,
Didn’t mean to make you cry,
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body’s aching all
The time
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, oooh
I don’t want to die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.

I’m all up in self destruction mode now. I feel like I am dying inside and I want to die. I want to end it because it’s too much. I want to tell someone who can help me but I can’t see the way out. I want to do things that will hurt me like cutting, destroying relationships, friendships, whatever will hurt me even more. In the past I self harmed, I cheated on partners, I said hurtful things to people who cared about me to push them away because they deserved better. “Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth” is EXACTLY my thought process when I push people away. I need to get everyone I care about out of my way before I blow up like a ticking time bomb. I can feel it coming because I know I have intentionally thrown away all that was good because I couldn’t even help myself. “Just killed a man” is admitting that you know you shouldn’t do it and all of this confessing is about acknowledging the harm that you cause others by being self destructive, but still not being able to stop yourself from doing it. When I have been in this phase, I know I am dramatic and it seems really crazy to someone on the outside looking in. It makes no sense to me either, but I have to just go with it. The only way to make the pain stop is self destruction. Emotional, physical, mental self destruction will stop the pain enough to survive.

Part three:

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango!

Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Figaro – magnificoo

This is just the nonsense that I feel and everyone else can see. It doesn’t make sense really, but I know it’s just my brain wrapping around what’s going on and the pain is starting to ease, which makes me euphoric, especially when I used to cut. I have found that a more constructive way to achieve that same level of euphoria is getting a tattoo. The pain from that feels very similar the cutting, just longer. I also feel a huge release when I get blood work or shots and that’s often accompanied by euphoria as well. It meets my self destructive need with a real purpose instead of self mutilation. The music is erratic and too much. The guitar solo leading into this section provides the passage from the depression to the euphoria.

Part four:

I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let me go) Will not let you go
(Let me go)(Never) Never let you go
(Let me go) (Never) let you go (Let me go) Ah
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me,
For meee

This part could be included with part three, but for me this is where I start to gain control again and the self destruction has passed. Part three is just the nonsense before I gain control. Here I have separated into two parts-the crazy that wants to self destruct, and the calm that wants to get the crazy back under wraps. I’m feeling much stronger and I can shed the pain completely and get back to letting things go and being in control of my reactions. Sanity is mixed with nonsense, but has started to override the nonsense. I will not let myself go any longer and I am proclaiming it repeatedly. “We will not let you go.”

Part five:

So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here

And then this part. Full control has been accomplished. I will not let the crazy take me over any longer. I will win this battle and stop the self destruction right here and now. I am strong again, having defeating the pain. We are moving out of the self destructive cycle.

Part six:

Nothing really matters, Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me
Any way the wind blows…

And back to the same place as part one. Life is back to normal. I will fool myself into believing that I don’t care about the damage I have caused to those who care about me. I am not acknowledging this because as you can see, I am not talking about Mama or anyone else who may care. It’s almost like it didn’t even happen, which has always frustrated people who care about it. It was like the entire cycle of self destruction didn’t happen or I don’t care that I hurt them. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but to stay out of this cycle, I need to not think about how bad I was to other people. The main goal of self destruction is hurting myself, because I am not worthy of good things. I have been a horrible, evil person and nothing anyone says can convince me otherwise once I slip into this cycle.

Thankfully years of therapy have helped me avoid this terrible cycle of self destruction for awhile now. Or I can sidestep it when I see it coming, having noticed that there is a pattern. Therapy has taught me how to build those off ramps when I feel like I am a bad person who does bad things. One is telling my wife I feel like a bad person. Another is listening to this song. And mostly it’s been acknowledging the pain I shoved down my entire life until recently. Sometimes it’s too much to process, but mostly all I need to do is acknowledge that I am hurting and I can find a constructive way to deal with that without doing anything I will regret.

After years of thinking about it, I got this tattoo in 2020. Freddie has been such a huge influence on my life. I love this tattoo and everyone always comments on it, even when I’m not expecting it.

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