You probably can’t tell by looking at me now, but I was a rebellious teenager that fully embraced her dark side. I mean, I may not be the only hell my mama ever raised, but I am certainly the most exasperating. I delighted in doing the exact opposite of my peers, and if it was edgy, shocking, and dark it was in my rotation. Punk hair, black clothes, black beret, heavy eyeliner-I was every mother’s nightmare of what their son might bring home. This rebel streak included my music, which explains how I got in trouble with a cassette tape of Nirvana at my super conservative Christian boarding school. My teen years were fraught with upheaval and challenges, and I found the balm for my tortured soul in Kurt Cobain’s mournful growl and Dave Grohl’s “all in” method of playing drums, the sharp staccato punctuating every word of songs that seemed to have been written just for me. Years later, it would be Dave’s signature style manifesting as the Foo Fighters that would get me through having a premature infant, as I sat and rocked my baby for hours in the NICU singing “Learn to Fly” and confusing the hell out of the nurses with my unique choice in lullaby’s.
That previously premature infant has grown into a 6 foot tall, long haired, outside the box rock and roller, and is just a few months away from being an adult. Inevitably, I have passed along my love of everything Foo Fighters, which has manifested in their absolute adoration of Dave, Taylor, Chris, Rami, Nate, and Pat. They have often looked to Dave as a role model, inspiration, and validation for being unconventional-because sometimes we need more than mom’s support. When they were assigned the task of reading an autobiography of their choice in English, it was a no brainer that they chose Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller”. Being the conscientious parent I am I chose to listen to the audiobook version on a long road trip for business, and fan girled my way to the East coast and back, enraptured by Dave’s signature soothing voice regaling this audience of one with his insights and anecdotes. The rebellious teenager and mom in me were riveted as I laughed and cried and rode the highs and lows of his life. It was the therapist in me, though, that had the biggest epiphany on that road trip-Dave Grohl is the mental health advocate we all need.
My grown up persona (how very Jungian of me) as a trauma therapist has found me to be as unconventional now as I was a teenager, albeit a more productive one. It’s not unheard of for me to use non-traditional resources and song lyrics speak to me-especially, of course, the Foo’s. You will often find me challenging a domestic violence client to listen to “Times Like These” and assess what the lines mean for them or asking a first responder to tell me what “My Hero” means to them. I can often be found humming “Saint Cecilia”, and I drew strength from “Walk” during a particularly difficult time in my personal life. More than just the music, though, Dave’s book explores in depth in a non-clinical way the trauma of his relationship with his dad; his teenage years when he felt disenfranchised by the education system and desperately wanted to pursue a dream; the early years of his music career; meeting, connecting, making music with, and tragically losing Kurt. What Dave gives to the world is an unfiltered look at what resilience is for someone with an ACE (adverse childhood experience) score that could have led them in a very different direction. Further, his candid expression of self is unapologetically authentic, and gives every marginalized misfit permission to be themselves. He offers something priceless to those that don’t fit the societal mold of “normal”, and that is an ally and a shelter in the storm.
While my colleagues are recommending Brene Brown books (no shade, I appreciate her!), you will find me encouraging clients to listen to Dave Grohl. Unconventional, genuine, warm, and witty, the uncensored stories and reactions he shares speak to client’s parts. We all have them, and sometimes our inner teenager or young adult needs to hear the struggle and success of someone that seems like they should be an enigma, and yet is startlingly human. This strategy may not be for everyone, but for my trauma clients I have discovered that connecting Dave’s stories to their parts has been one of the best ways for them to build distress tolerance and affective coping, not to mention the somatic regulating that the Foo’s provide through their unmistakable sound.
I harbor no illusions that Dave Grohl will ever see my humble little post, nor is that the intention. As an unconventional therapist, I find it my calling to provide unique perspectives on the recovery strategies I have found effective for clients as well as for myself. I am out of my mind excited to say I have secured two tickets to the Foo Fighters concert in Minnesota this year as a graduation gift for my kiddo before they head to college. And, if Dave or any of the Foo’s happen to be in my area someday-after all, they have ties to my hometown via Butch Vig!-it would be an honor to buy them all coffee, as long as Dave hasn’t overdone it already; for more on that, get the book!! If they’re coffeed out, then the bourbon is on me, to thank Dave and the entire band for being the unintentional healing modality and mental health advocates that have helped me and so many of my clients “Learn to Fly” during “Times Like These” where they are learning to “Walk” again.