Bryan Adams - You Can't Take Me

Written by Keita Haruka, South Africa -
This song was of course featured on the animated movie "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron". At the time, I was in a very bad place emotionally. My great-grandfather, whom I was very close to, had recently passed away, and my mother lost her job due to paranoid schizophrenia. We were having money problems and dealing with her was...quite difficult.

Both parents were quite absent, both having full-time jobs before mom lost hers to the illness. I was a responsible kid though, so being left alone most of the time wasn't much of a problem for me. Suddenly having a crazy woman at home every day was hard to adjust to. I barely knew her and having her be all paranoid and crazy didn't help. Quite suddenly, I had zero privacy, and had to account for every second of every day. Like I said, I wasn't an irresponsible kid, so suddenly having to account for everything seemed unfair to say the least. I could have understood if I'd been acting out, abused the trust I'd previously had, or somehow had done something wrong...but I hadn't, and so her sudden, extreme efforts to control every second of my life led to a great deal of resentment. There were times when I outright hated her.

I had no outlet for that anger, and as the years passed, the anger (and the pain I felt at having to watch my own mother deteriorate like that) turned into despair of ever escaping from home and having my own life. She kept hammering at my defences, coming up with more and more ways to try and control even what I thought. It also didn't help that I'd discovered I was gay on top of everything else. The added guilt and potential judgement that would come my way if anyone ever found out threatened to crush me.

Then one day, I heard this song played on the radio. (Lyrics from the song, obviously) "Don't judge a thing till you know what's inside it/Don't push me I'll fight it/Never gonna give in/Never gonna give it up, no/If you can't catch a wave then you're never gonna ride it/You can't come uninvited/Never gonna give in/Never gonna give it up, no".

Oh yeah. I adopted it as my theme song for many years. Whenever I felt overwhelmed and unable to hold on, I'd play this song, and it would stoke the fires deep within, giving me the strength to go on. I changed me in a fundamental way, from a kid with little self-confidence and little hope to someone altogether stronger willed and determined. It helped me gather the courage to fight back instead of letting her run roughshod over me, and to work just as hard as I could at my studies to make sure I'd have the means to be free.

It's now more than a decade later, with a life that's mine, and that I'm happy with. I'm also "out" and unafraid to show it.

The funny thing is...I'm not even particularly a fan of Bryan Adams, and yet I owe this song of his (and therefore him) a debt of gratitude. I'd probably have been another teen suicide statistic if not for this song.

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