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Debbie Gibson's music helps heal trauma

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW

A powerful healing force

I believe there is a huge connection between self-worth, self-love, joy, and healing from disease. These are critical emotion and passion components of the HEALING WHEEL. The challenge has been that for many years I did not know how to love myself. I didn't see my worth, and I didn't feel like I deserved to feel joy. As a child, joy was the last priority: Survival was number one. When you struggle to meet day- to- day needs, you often don't experience joy -- Joy can seem like a luxury. Through the years, I have tired from therapists and healers asking me if I love myself--how do I love myself? I could not connect to these feelings. I spent my life deriving good feelings from the outside of me: validation from others, rewards for my achievements, seeing others benefit from my social work services.

However, throughout my quest for health, it was obvious how healing has many dimensions. I had some gaps in my healing wheel--some imbalances. I was committed to addressing the deepest layers of illness and to do this, I must have a positive relationship with my SELF and experience joy in my life. It was time to find ways to generate good feelings from within me rather than outside of me.

I needed a way to connect the dots--It wasn't easy for me to connect to my feelings of self-love and worth. I felt empty inside. Fortunately, music with healing lyrics and empowering messages was available to guide the way.

debbie gibsonThroughout my young life, I loved finding the remote control for the television or a banana and using these as a microphone. I turned on my idol, 80's popstar icon Debbie Gibson's music and belted out her songs. Debbie Gibson was a gifted pianist and as I loved the piano, I turned on her music, played the piano, and sang her music at the top of my lungs. (I had zero singing talents but I didn't care about being perfect when I was in this bliss.). Debbie Gibson's songs, written by her, were inspiring, healing, and deeply personal. Her songs gave me a language to reach inside myself and connect with my true feelings and self. While I loved her billboard hits, I devoured the other gems on her albums such as Deep, whose lyrics said "Deep down I feel it, burning in my soul, and It won't let go..." and One Hand One heart: "Come with me to a place where all is free; no one to tell you what to do, how to tell me your feelings, just, pure honesty" and No More Rhyme: "When the fear sets in, where the fire burns, where I find a place, where there's nowhere to turn..." Anything is Possible "if you put your mind to it." I filled myself with inspiration, words, music, joy and freedom when I went to this place of joy within myself. These lyrics in many ways parented me and nourished me from within. What I had not been given from my parents I was able to provide myself, from within.

Decades later I still turned on Debbie Gibson's music and used the telephone or banana as a microphone and belted out her music filling myself with joy. Until this time in my life I had not realized I was always connected to these internal feelings of joy and freedom. The Dalia Lama said, "Everyone seeks happiness, joyfulness, but from the outside--from money, from power, from big car, from big house. Most people never pay much attention to the ultimate source of a happy life, which is inside, not outside. Even the source of physical health is inside, not outside" (Lama, et al, 2016, p. 31).

I had a spirit and power within that had carried me through my life in ways I had yet to understand. Debbie Gibson's music and words reconnected me to these sensations, memories, and my spirit, and this allowed me to make links with the present. The feeling that I got when I took in the words, music, dance moves, and essence of Debbie Gibson represented an internal sensation of joy that I generated within myself and this feeling became my reference point for generating other feelings of joy.