“Damaged” by TLC (2002)

T-Boz and Chilli, y’all are singing my language with this one.

“Damaged”, without even knowing the lyrics, is a killer tune. Great melody, great hook, awesome ‘80s guitars. In another era, the song could’ve been a hit for Heart or Pat Benatar or John Waite.

The lyrics of “Damaged” hit me hard because…well, if you know me closely enough, it’s fairly obvious that I have a fair amount of baggage. I’m black. I’m queer. I come from a fairly intolerant, Catholic West Indian immigrant family. I grew up in the age of AIDS. I wasn’t raised by my parents. I was abused mentally and physically for a solid chunk of my childhood. To put it mildly, my first 30 years or so on this Earth were…unusual. And no matter how together you think your shit is, you’re going to bring some of that into any relationship you enter, whether it’s your relationship with your boss, your best friend, or your partner(s). And for a lot of people, the baggage continues to accumulate.

I’ve been in therapy on and off for almost eleven years. I think I’m a much better person now than I was then, much more self-aware and oftentimes able to communicate that baggage to the people I consider myself close to (in the hopes that they’ll understand–a lot of people don’t or won’t). But even managed, acknowledged damage is still damage. And I own that shit. And have worked hard and am still working hard to untangle or at least understand most of it.

So while I’m not paranoid to the extent that T-Boz’s lyrics portray (I’ve never stooped to looking through someone’s stuff or setting anyone up and as I’m polyamorous I don’t particularly sweat whether a partner is seeing someone else although I’d be a bit miffed if they were doing so without telling me), I’ve got some shit to work on and that presents an issue (maybe more for me than the other person/people) when I’m entering a relationship or feel a strong attraction to someone. I’m in fairly constant worry that my issues will drive people away. And this song articulates a lot of the feels I have about that quite nicely.

And boy, having this song pop up on this list at this point and time is quite timely/scarily coincidental.

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