Here I sit on a park bench in my new city (I’ll get to that in a bit) waiting on my dog to get his annual shave for summer. I’m contemplating walking down the road to a thrift store. And I remember... I said I would tie up all the loose ends with this blog, so here I am. I apologize for the delay, I took a vacation. Better late that never, so here’goes...
After publishing all the parts to my blog, I felt a sense of release and pride and the serotonin hit I always get from writing something that means something. But I also felt guilty and a little insecure. What if X finds it and thinks I’m ungrateful? What if a mob of T Swizzle fans attack my Instagram? What if everyone in the industry that sees it thinks I’m just washed up seeking attention? Then I realized, well, not THAT many people are reading it and felt a bit better, to think that people reading my heart are mostly people with some context to know my heart, too.
I did get a message or two defending Taylor Swift (lol, I really don’t care either way on that one.) I do have anxiety that telling my story of emotional affairs and manipulated feelings will blow back on me somehow. But that’s ok. I’m a writer. I’m used to the business of spilling my guts, come what may.
It was my ultimate stake in the ground to say “I don’t have to care what these persons believes or feels about me anymore.” And yeah, I still do a little bit sometimes. When it comes to X, I still wish he used to love me. I still wish I hadn’t been so malleable. I still wish gratitude to people wasn’t wrapped up in pain and regret. I wonder if I am narcissistic for “playing the victim” in my writing, and then I remember that I know myself. I am sensitive. I am prideful. I’m artistic and type A. That’s true. But I am not the narcissist or the pity-seeker, or the whistle blower, I’m just a writer and I like to tell the truth.
I am recovering from being gently gaslighted by the powerful people I thought were there to help me. It was always I that was wrong, crazy, or not good enough. No one else was ever the problem. So, when I say gaslighted, I mean, I truly lived under a rock where I was manipulated to believe I had no worth without the people around me. When cracks marred the facade- It was me. It was me. It was me. The label says my teeth are too crooked. X says lose weight, just get some Adderall so you can eat less and work more. It was me. My fault. Kate, you’re the problem. Kate, you’re broken. Kate, you’re fat. Kate, you’re ignorant. Kate, you’re just not commercially viable. Kate, you’re just too much. Kate, you’re just not enough. Kate, what is your illness anyway? You don’t look sick. Kate, it’s you. It’s you. It’s you. Even my family questioned me. Kate, are you trying hard enough? Aren’t you grateful? What are you doing, you’re losing everything.
To all of those voices... you did your job well, because I believed you every single day. I wallowed out of bed trying so hard to be enough for everybody everyday, almost always failing miserably.
Here’s the crux. I’m not enough. I’m 130 pounds of petite, dimpled, curvy, non-magazine-ready body. I’m a train beat Springsteen vibe, not a tempo smash. I’m a woman, not a product. I’m a wife, not a star-crossed lover. I’m a singer, not just a voice. I’m an artist, not a business. I’m a mediocre guitarist, but I don’t sling it around for decoration. Sometimes I show up without make up. Sometimes, I’m tipsy and swear words on Friday night. Sometimes, I’m front pew, tears streaming on Sunday. Do I love myself? Not yet. No, not quite yet. But do I believe fully that I deserve to love myself despite every “no” and every “you’re not enough”. I’m trying hard. Pursuing Christ and loving others better helps, so I am starting there.
To everyone I directly or indirectly have written poorly of in my story: I hope you’re better now. I hope you’re happier now. And I hope I’m never your grief, only your lesson. We all deserve to get better! And I masked a lot of names strictly because I don’t believe anybody stays exactly the same. Everyone can change.
To every hero, villain, hand-holder, stepping stone, friend, foe, competitor, judge, or confidant in my Nashville story: THANK YOU. You all helped me in some way or another. Truly.
Zach and I put our house in Nashville up for rent 9 months after buying it because, last fall, on a chilly northern Colorado night, we fell in love with the idea of moving away from music city USA. We now live full time in Denver and I work in Nashville about every 6 weeks. In the interim and while there, I write songs for film and TV as Kate Bowen and in my venture with my producers, poplar. I have whittled down my creative time to that that really matters to me and that fuels me. I was advised to keep my move on the down-low because when you visit as frequently as I do, people barely notice. But why would I hide something that has really made a positive difference in my life? Cheap direct flights make the world go round. If you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. There’s a lot more to it, but we had to go. The itch just couldn’t be scratched any other way.
We almost chose Madison, Wisconsin, my favorite city in this great nation (for no other reason than I just feel perfectly at home when I’m there.) We chose Denver because 1) Zach’s family is here, 2) the Rockies make my husband happy, 3) Zach’s wage in tech is substantially better in Denver/ Boulder, which gives me the freedom to keep going after my dreams a little bit, while also funding our adventures.
My family is still in Nashville. I miss them ALL the time. But, it’s really awesome to catch a plane for 3 or 4 days and spend all of that time in their home, really soaking it in while I’m there working. At this juncture, I can have both worlds. I’m very grateful. It might not last, but this phase is really cool.
I am finally pursuing an education. I am aiming to get my BS in health science and my MA in psychology and counseling before I am 30. I also want to be a mom and write another book. I have very ambitious goals for the 2nd coming of my life and creativity. Often, I wonder if I can really have it all and stay active as a musician. I heard an amazing quote once on that. “You can have it all, just not all in the same day.” So, that’s my goal. To have it all, even if I can’t have it all at once.
God is my first priority. Then my husband. Then my parents, brother, and living grandmas whom I’m very close to. Then my craft. Then whatever I pursue for work in addition.
I do work currently. I work in a clinic in an early intervention autism program 30 hours a week as a behavior technician (ABA therapist.) After so many years in the commercial void, I really needed to help somebody. Music industry jobs and songwriting DON’T have to be subservient to the dollar and to the higher-ups, but they definitely became that for me. I know plenty of amazing writers who escape the muck, but I was certainly drowning in it. I needed something so different to reset. Luckily, my job is 30 hours, four days a week with tons of PTO, so getting my Nashville/family/co-writing fix is not a problem.
I write songs- fewer, but often better- songs. I couldn’t stop if I tried, after all.
To anyone who has followed this story, thank you so much. It means the world when a few people lend an ear. This has been for me, therapeutically, and for the hundreds of thousands who don’t speak up about how hard this path can be, but want to. I am nothing more than a parallel to a hundred thousand other artists, but I am also unique. I hope this sheds a little light. If you want to chase it, chase it... but guard your spirit, love with care, and listen to your deepest gut feelings always. But if it’s in you, please DO chase it... no matter what that looks like ♥️
Lastly, if you want a glimpse of where I am these days musically, this is my brand new EP, Waking Up From The American Dream.
With all the love,