Roundtable Talk: “Down Side of Me”

“I’ll believe that you’re all that you said you would be
If I keep you away from the down side of me”

Artist: CHVRCHES
Song:
“Down Side of Me”
Album:
Every Open Eye
Year:
2015

Song Meaning

Hiding the negative aspects of one’s past life from another.

The Baggage You Leave Behind

In a mind-blowing act of maturity, I decided years ago to spare the world my grief and sorrows. No emo Xanga posts. No hanging my heart like a busted pinata for new love interests to whack.

It’s lonely.

We are the sum of our own joy, sorrows, triumphs and setbacks. Everyone, whether conscious of it or not, has an immense depth that constructs what makes us “us.” So I do tackle with the sentiment of, “If I won’t share the bad stuff in my life, I should be fair and not share too much of the good, either.”

That’s kind of where I am now with my public persona and I don’t know if that’s to my benefit. People have a limited perception of me and my alone-time thoughts are rabid beasts. I’ve locked myself in the cage to do battle on my own. I’m still in there, holding my own. Some days, not so much.

There several types of people with baggage. Some dump their load all up in everyone’s business, as if their life is worth a breaking news ticker. The emotionally guarded build barriers to not let anyone near their cage and whatever monstrosity lies within. We all want want comfort, we all seek it in different ways.

Then there are those who share only when they need and put up with the rest alone. I do think there is a strength to keeping forbidden feelings confined within yourself. They are your demons, so rise up and face them. At least try, only asking for help when you’re about to be eaten alive.

Yes, baggage is much easier to bear when you have someone to help carry it. But you probably have a bunch of other, less damning bags to tote around, too. It’s unfair to put it all on someone else, and the results could be damaging for everyone involved.

“Down Side of Me” presents the next step of the how-much-should-I-share dilemma: “Where does all the negativity I’ve built up over the years fit into a relationship?” The song plays two sides with emotional delicacy, illuminating both the problem and the answer.

The answer is this: The light matters more than the darkness.

CHVRCHES singer Lauren Mayberry at first comes across as vulnerable for her pessimistic prediction and uncertainty of how the relationship is going to go:

“Maybe I
Tell you that it’s no big deal
Maybe I can aim this high
Or maybe I could eat my words”

But later, like a break in the clouds, she sees a glimmer of hope:

“I will show I believe
And hold you up and know that you’re all I see in the light”

We can interpret the song in different ways, but I see it as this: In order for the relationship to succeed, focus on the good of the present and leave the sorrows of the past where they lie. Just because you’ve hurt before doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. It sounds simple and cliche, but executing is another issue.

I don’t know if there’s a right approach, but I think there is a time and place for the unpacking of baggage. Can I handle this? Will dumping all my dirty laundry on the floor benefit this relationship? What is my emotional state? Can therapy or support groups lessen the load enough for me to move on?

I’ve been intentionally vague and broad to cover a lot of ground, but I’m sure this is a universal theme for us all. Just because you have inner demons doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love. And just because you don’t share those demons with the world doesn’t mean they’re unbeatable.

Random Notes

  • The music video above is directed by Kristin Stewart. She must like hands.
  • Another note about the video: This is a stripped down version of the song, which I enjoy better for its intimacy.
  • I’m not a licensed relationship expert, but I do know one thing that you should hopefully know as well: If you haven’t discovered yourself and learned to love that person, you’re most likely going to fail at any relationship. This song reflects the process of an important choice we all must make: I choose to be happy. And don’t be fooled – it is a choice.
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