I have never met Chester Bennington, but like many fans, I’ve heard just about every Linkin Park song ever written. I remember my first time hearing Linkin Park. I was in high school in my freshman year and “In The End” was at the top of the music charts. The Nu Metal phenomenon was in full swing and the mix of rock, rap, and metal blasted through stereos and headphones everywhere.
I was in a particular spot during this time. The abuse that began during my younger years had not subsided. Rather, it had shifted to emotional and psychological with the physical sometimes mixed in. This year and the two after it were especially dark. I wrote poetry reflecting on suicide and the notebook I had the poetry in was found and turned into school administration after I accidentally misplaced it.
That was a saving grace. But it wasn’t enough at the time.
Your music introduced me to an outlet for the rage in me. “In The End” was great, but it was just the beginning. “One Step Closer” would soon come to play on repeat for me. I listened as you so passionately railed against the circumstances of life longing for others to simply “shut up” and listen. It showed me that I wasn’t alone standing on the edge.
I routinely listened to Hybrid Theory and Meteroa and they made me feel like someone else understood my pain and my struggles. The lyrics reflected on a sense of lostness and rage that I found comforting.
“Numb” became a song that helped me when I started work on the trauma I endured. Through the assaults, my parents were trying to make me manipulatable and mold me into someone that would walk in their footsteps. You lamented “every step that I take is another mistake to you.” and I knew that you knew how it felt. I had to teach myself to disassociate from the grief at first to rightly name what had happened. You helped me become numb when I need it the most.
It wasn’t until last summer that I revisited “Crawling” when I was working on a presentation on forgiveness and abuse. When I was younger I loved the angst and the rage, but I never really listened to the words. As I reflect on the song at this space in my trauma work, I realize what you meant when you shouted, “crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal. fear is how I fall, confusing what is real.” as you wrestled with losing self-control and hating even your own reflection.
I identified with that. It was a sort of necessary realization that I had been broken down and taught to hate myself too. The acknowledgment that the wounds seem to be ever present and the world that I was shown was not the reality. I wrestle with you every time I listen to that song. Then, I watched the video. It’s no wonder the song was so relatable, it was about abuse.
You taught me that rage has a place if it’s channeled properly. Often we are told that healing looks like a calm summer day on a private island quietly taking in the breeze. You showed me otherwise. You embraced your rage and you used it to help others. You showed me that rage can be motivation for good as long as it doesn’t consume us completely.
I don’t pretend to know about your faith life. I do know that you were and are a Christ-like person in my life. One of the few people I have ever been able to point to and know that I saw Christ through you.
Like Christ railing in the Temple, you boldly railed against circumstances and people that brought harm to so many and pointed to a brighter future on the other side of unfathomable trauma.
You’ll never get the opportunity to read this and I’ll never get the opportunity to meet you. But you are one of my heroes.
Suicide is a hard way to go and yet, so many who have been through significant trauma in their lives end them by their own hands. I don’t judge you for what you did, but I do feel grief over it. It is as if I lost a long lost friend.
I hope you found the peace so many survivors of trauma are longing for. On this side of the grave, you have shown me one last thing: there are more people to reach, more people to help, and suicides that can be prevented if we work hard enough, learn to dialogue about life’s issues, and walk in empathy with one another.
Rest In Power.