If you asked me what my music taste was about two years ago, I would say I’m still listening to more or less the same bands since high school: my weird blend of rock and female-fronted aggression, not budging beyond my niche taste of riot grrrl and grunge. I’ve been fortunate to have been branching out a lot these past several months, and now hold a more diverse, wide, music taste like most people (in high school, you could not convince me to listen to a male singer. Now the number of male-fronted bands I like has gone up from 2 to about 11).

However, there is a singer that had so greatly encompassed my life in my mid high school years, that she, undoubtedly, changed my entire life. We all have that band that changed our lives. I wanted to dress like her. I read her every interview. She inspired me to want to learn music. It was an enveloping obsession that had extreme up and downs—and I blame it on my untreated mental illness.

This singer in particular had a good amount of ballads, acoustic songs tinged with misery, slow, bluesy tracks wailing of woe and ache. Being a depressed teenager, misery to me was like cake. I could not get enough. The monster inside of me wanted to be on a steady diet of sadness, and I consumed it until I filled myself numb.

I did not know how to cope with my feelings when I was younger. Sadness within me felt like a physical object within me, a hard nugget throbbing in my chest. I could not debate it, reason with it, get it out. It hungered and ached and I fed it without mercy. I ingested the singers second-hand grief, I grieved for myself. I bathed in her misery. I isolated myself the summer after high school, sick and alone in bed, cried all the time. I was trapped in my own cycle of melancholy. I was an addict. All I had was her, the sweet wail of her voice, singing to the black hole in my chest.

My life significantly improved once I adjusted to college: I received therapy, began to medicate and my personhood blossomed like a tree. I grew mentally all at once, finding friends, pursuing passions, learning, growing. I had abandoned most of my misery in the process. But it still left me with questions: who was I without my sadness, the very thing I built my personality around? What was my identity without my misery? Where is my soul, if not the hollow pit in my chest, the ache of sadness, the pain of sorrow in my head? Without sadness, am I empty? I have survived by not thinking about these questions too much.

I decided one night last week, out of boredom and curiosity, to revisit her songs. How would I feel about the music that I once had on repeat for days straight? Would I still like it? Would I be apathetic? I sat and soaked in the sadness again. I closed my eyes and listened to the soft, gentle piano, the quivering whispers, the twangs of guitars. These tracks were exactly what would’ve wrought me numb, shutting my body down with addictive grief. But I did not cry.

Listening to these old songs brought up the familiar sadness the way an old stale drink disappoints you. It was lackluster, I now criticized the music I had praised so heavily years ago: I don’t remember her voice sounding this way; was I really obsessed with this? It all seemed so plain, so ordinary. Maybe I had exhausted it.

But the sadness, I remembered. I remembered my ache. I remembered my cycle of melancholy. It wasn’t as powerful, as all-encompassing, as suffocating, but it lingered around me, like a fog. It was brought back like a familiar taste in my mouth. Or maybe it never truly left, just had been dormant within me, waiting. I will never be sure.

With all of this being said, I feel that I know how to handle myself better. I have grown, coped, and I find no need to soak in sadness as I once did. I know it’s incredibly easy and addicting to be sad, and it’s like wading through mud to get out of, but it is possible. It may fill you temporarily, but it’s not worth it.

With this all being said and done, the artist is Kimberly Freeman, and here is a song of hers that I distinctly remember making me cry. It’s not the most amazing track, and she’s not the most amazing singer in the world, but it was the rawness that enticed me, the brokenness and vulnerability. What took me so long to learn is that you are required to leave the wound alone in order to start healing.