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Chester Bennington. Photo by Mike Danenberg (@mikedanenberg). Photo used with permission.
Chester Bennington. Photo by Mike Danenberg (@mikedanenberg). Photo used with permission.

Why does Chester Bennington taking his own life impact a person like myself to such a strong degree? Why can’t I stop thinking about him?

Chester was the voice for people that have really seen dark times. Dark times that are generally of the sort in which you are not to blame, but rather, those of circumstance or environment. I tend to group people into two categories: those that bring negative experiences upon themselves, and those that just have been dealt those cards in life. Chester and I fell into the latter category.

Chester Bennington @ Download Festival France 2017. Photo by Nathan Dobbelaere (@nateconcertphotography). Photo used with permission.
Chester Bennington @ Download Festival France 2017. Photo by Nathan Dobbelaere (@nateconcertphotography). Photo used with permission.

It’s no secret that Chester wrote his lyrics as a result of his childhood experiences. He spoke of being molested at the age of 7 (I believe) and how it destroyed his confidence and his identity. Drug use certainly didn’t help as well, but he did battle his addiction. I grew up in an alcohol driven turbulent home and went to school in an environment that wasn’t conducive to learning (to put it simply).

Chester’s pain was a different kind of pain. Most people experience similar types of temporary emotions. Traumatic experiences though, that’s a different beast and often lead to reoccurring emotions.

So, it’s one thing to experience sadness and it’s one thing to experience pain, but its a completely other experience to feel a level of depression so deep wherein the only answer you can think of to make the depression go away is to take your own life; because it’s keep recurring, you can’t escape it. No amount of drugs, alcohol, or whatever the suppressant of choice is can help you escape. That’s darkness. That’s loneliness. That is the despair and raw emotions you would hear when Chester sang.

When I was younger I struggled daily with those sort of thoughts. Made plans. Researched. All that good stuff, but in Chester I found an individual who has battled with the darkness, and was winning.

You can see it Chester’s lyrics. You could see it even more so on how he would perform, and quite frankly, Scream.

Chester Bennington w/ Stone Temple Pilots in 2015. Photo by Maggie Friedman (@maggielndnphoto). Photo used with permission.
Chester Bennington w/ Stone Temple Pilots in 2015. Photo by Maggie Friedman (@maggielndnphoto). Photo used with permission.

If you’ve ever had a thought of doing something to yourself, hearing Chester for the first time and listening to him put into words all of your feelings was a revelation! Who was this guy that experienced all of this pain, and yet is here telling us his story leading us away from the dark? WHO IS THIS GUY?!?!

Chester leaving us sort of feels like one of our leaders of fighting mental illness gave up. And I think I that’s what makes it harder for some of his fans, like me, to accept. And honestly, that’s something I’ll struggle with for the next few days, and I know I’m not alone in those thoughts.

The bond was beyond music. That’s what people have to understand. The bond was born in darkness, but strengthened in Light.

For Chester, it was a self fulfilling prophecy: our union came full circle. In his fans he found people that saw the darkness and who wanted to uplift him. And in return, we started to see a change in his lyrics to reflect the completion of the circle. We gave him Light, and he gave us Light back with music that went from angry, to positive and full of Light and Guidance. Some fans took issue with the change in direction Linkin Park went with their music. I embraced it. Showed growth. Showed that we came full circle.

Chester Bennington. Photo by Daniel Bedford (@DanielBedford). Photo used with permission.
Chester Bennington. Photo by Daniel Bedford (@DanielBedford). Photo used with permission.

Chester wasn’t just a musician we found, but rather in Chester we found a friend we could¬†lean on any time we wanted to by simply putting on the headphones and closing our eyes.

Hearing his voice made you forget about actually harming yourself, because Chester was telling you, or more accurately, screaming at you: I’ve been there too. Vibe with me. Let out your emotions with me. Be with me.

Chester taught me a lot about myself. Taught me to face my own demons. Taught me to not be afraid of the dark. Taught me its ok to get a little pissed off at life. Taught me you can get through anything and everything. Taught me to love myself, and for that, I am forever grateful. I guess it can’t be more simply said that there is poetic irony in the last Linkin Park album being titled “One More Light”, because this Light will never go Dark.

 

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