July 20, 2017

The House You Built

 

This is a beautiful song. From start to finish I find a lot encouragement from it. For me, this song has a double meaning. On one hand, it’s a broken house trying to find your place among parents who don’t seem to show you love, but through the song, the family becomes stronger.

The other meaning this song holds for me, and the one I’ll be focusing on, the child doesn’t believe that her family loves her. As a child, she is unable to understand or comprehend the ins and outs of life.

I grew up in a young family. My dad joined the military right out of highschool, so he’s idea of love was very harsh and cold. My mom, marrying my dad out of highschool, learned that love and affection was only shown on birthdays and holidays. Everything else was business as usual. This is the type of home I was born into, and spent the first ten years of my life in.

I was convinced my parents didn’t love me, that I was a burden to them, and they’d be better off without me. I wasn’t able to understand that my dad had to learn how to be an adult in a cruel world, or that when I was born, my parents were still kids themselves learning their place in this world.

To me, this song is my older self talking to my younger self. At first, I’m talking to myself where I am at that moment, “Don’t look down / Even though they’re looking down on you/”. Because I was too young to really understand anything else, and I needed someone to meet me where I was, and tell me how I was feeling was ok.

Not only that, but there is a sense of frustration, “If only I could show your future you would light up like the sun.” Looking back at that time of my life, I wish I could have told myself where I’d be now. Given myself the encouragement I needed at the time to make it through. It’s one of the reasons I’ve gone into this field, to be that voice to others in similar positions I was in, and hopefully help them not walk it alone.

But, the song doesn’t end there, eventually, the character in the song starts to grow up, and starts to learn some of the intricacies of life and their parents story, they learn that “there’s no-one looking down on you.” But it’s not just the child who grew.

The child “Little light” starts to gain self confidence, the mom “Mrs. Might” learns how to express her belief in her child. The dad “Mr. Beaten Down” learns how to love and express that. Not only that, but the dad goes on to give their child what they can to help their “little light” make something of their life.

This right there is such a beautiful image of a family making it through a dark time together and coming out stronger for it. It also mirrors my own walk with my family very closely, which makes it close to my heart. There was a time I wouldn’t acknowledge my dad was even home, and would only go to my mom if I needed something. But today, I talk to my parents all the time, and consider them best friends who I can confide in.

 

July 13, 2017

Shapeshifters

 

 

At some point, I came to the realisation that I needed to either embrace my mental state, or be consumed by it. But not only my mental state, but my entire self. I had to learn how to love who I was. To me, that’s what this song represents. If I wanted to have enjoyment in life, I couldn’t keep living in the shadows and keeping what I was going through silent. I was ashamed and afraid.

But then something clicked. I started to understand what it meant to love myself and where I was. The song opens up with a great reminder, “To know your every detail is a lifetime.” It’s not an overnight thing to understand who you are, it takes your entire life.

I made the mistake for a long time of putting my hopes, dreams, and life in the hands of someone else. But that was doomed to failure, because I was ignoring myself. The idea isn’t to find someone else to complete you, but to be a complete person yourself. This song, is me talking to myself. I needed to learn to be my own muse, my own masterpiece, and my own canvas. If I relayed on others for those things, I would eventually fail.

That’s not to say that other people aren’t important, and finding inspiration in others is bad. But if that’s your starting point, and where you build yourself upon, you set yourself up for failure. I think I’ve mentioned my reliance on my friends enough to convey that I am not against leaning on others. But, I found them to be the most helpful when I broke off from them being what I built myself around.

Let me put it this way. For a long time, the foundation I built my house on was my friends and loved ones. Everything else was built on top of them, so when I lost that foundation, everything else came crashing down, because there was nothing left to stand on. Instead, my friends are now pillars within the house. They are vital to keeping that house standing, but if I were to lose that friendship and love, I still have my foundation to build on.

So to bring it back to the song, it’s a love song, but not directed towards someone else, but towards myself. Learning to love myself and be my own person, relaying on my friends as support and not the foundation, has lead to stronger and deeper friendships. By making that simple shift, I went from having an ever changing foundation to a solid floor that is unbreakable.

July 11, 2017

Weight

 

The third song in the album “Weight” is a great representation of what depression looks like. It’s so much more than just being sad, which I know I’ve talked about before in earlier blog posts. This song starts off with a feeling of defeat. Not only that but that “they’re all too familiar, I’ve been here before.” It’s not the first time, and part of the overbearing weight of depression, is knowing that it won’t be the last.

This is also the first song in the album that mentions a house, which is a theme that comes up in other songs. We’ve all built a house around our lives. Our actions have helped to shape the house we live in. When dealing with depression, your life choices, the house that you’ve built, seems to betray you.

In this song, there is also no “we” statements, only “I”. One of the hardest things is to remember and relay on your friends, you feel like it’s you verses the world. Often, as the chorus states, feeling empty, uninspired, feeling the weight of the world coming crashing down. But not only those feelings, but also just a generally feeling of being unsure of where to go.

Another difficult part about depression, it’s familiar. It’s a place I know and understand. It’s “silent and it’s safe.” Often knowing the way out, and how to get there, but it seems impossible to get there, it always feels like “there’s everything, but just out of reach.”

However, eventually there comes a “sink or swim” moment. Realising that “I’m not helpless, I’m not hopeless, but I don’t believe in hope on its own, no spine and no substance.” It’s the realisation that you have something to live for, and things ahead of you, and they are worth fighting for. It’s not time to give up just yet.

Coming out of a depression stent is something that I’ve always had to do on my own. That isn’t to say that my friends aren’t helpful. That moment where I start to realise that I have things worth fighting for are often because of my friends not giving up on me. But they can’t pull me out. I have to push myself out “with my two bare hands.” That isn’t to say the role of my friends isn’t important. I will say it every chance I get that they are a huge reason as to why I am where I am today.

Often times when we see friends suffering, we feel hopeless, and feel like what we offer is so little and means nothing. But that’s not the case. Those simple “how are you?” or “let’s do something together.” Those little statements, little shows that you care, those can make all the difference in giving the strength needed. My two best friends have been that support for me. I might feel alone during times of depression, but when I stand back up and look around, I see all those around me who have been there the whole time.

July 10, 2017

Introduced Species

 

The second song in the album has a bit of a different feel to it. It’s right in the title of the song “Introduced Species” and reinforced by the first line “we don’t belong here.” Growing up in a military family, this was almost literally my life. I would pick up and move every 3 or 4 years, having to learn a new social structure, a new life, and fit to new people. Over time, I lost the identity of who I was, and just became whoever was around me.

To me, this song is about realising that and coming to the conclusion that I’m not suppose to be where I am. It’s easy enough to take this as a negative, and the lyrics do seem to reinforce those thoughts on the surface. But the more I listen to it, the more I see the song as a positive and as a fight to be yourself and who you are regardless of where you are.

It’s not so much a song about giving up, but of starting a journey to figure out who you are. You can almost hear the cognitive dissonance between him wanting to fit in, and be himself. “In a way we are all connected/ threaded together / In a way we are all suspended / bound going nowhere.” To me, it’s a cry out of seeing that we are all human, all sharing a common bond, but not knowing how to connect to that, and feeling lost.

What speaks to me the most about fighting to fit into a place that isn’t your home is the section after he repeats “will you run?” If you listen closely, you can hear a faint screaming voice shouting “It’s no longer survival of the fittest, now that everyone survives. But we don’t want to survive, we want to live.” Fitting in, and being whatever everyone else is, that’s just survival. It’s doing just enough to skate by. But that’s not what I want, I want to live. That requires being myself.

But old habits don’t go away. Every time you take a step forward, you can hear that voice in the back of your head screaming “we don’t belong here” over and over. Which can get extremely tiring to fight. But the bridge, to me, is those friends from “Developments” it’s them reminding me that even though the night was long and hard, we can’t give up now. Reminding me what’s at stake, my life. But also, that you can’t start off running, at first, they are asking if I can walk, and after that point, that’s when they help me to run.

A common theme through this album is that it’s a journey, there are ups and down. It’s not just a continual improvement. There are downfalls, times you want to give up and stop trying. But, the important thing, you keep moving forward. Pick yourself up and go. When you can’t do it on your own, it’s ok to ask friends for help.

July 9, 2017

Developments

If you know me, you know that music is a huge part of who I am. Through the years, music has been there to help me through dark times, and help me to express myself. That really hasn’t changed as I’ve grown up.

Recently, a particular album has really rose to be something that has helped me through some dark times. About two years ago, a friend of mine showed me this song. Not because of the lyrics, but because of the music video. The song was “A fire on a hill” by Hands like Houses. The music video is fantastic and I would highly recommend watching it.

I never really paid much attention to the rest of the album, or anything else the band had put out. But recently, I’ve been wanting to write a post about that song, and decided to listen to the entire album and see if it had a similar theme, and found out that it did. I decided to convert my one post into a series of posts going through the entire album and paralleling it with my life story.

I’ve written about various aspects of my life in previous posts, and I’m hoping the content of these isn’t just a repeat. I’m going to be focusing on the emotions and feelings during the different times of my life, and not so much on the events that took place.

I will say, these are not the artist’s depictions of the songs. These are my own thoughts on them and how I’ve come to interpret them. The album is “Unimagine” by Hands Like Houses.

The first song of the album sets the mood of the rest of it fairly well for me. The opening words “we get in our own way, tripping on our feet / filling up our heads too much with words too hard to speak” sums up perfectly what it often feels like inside my head. I have a huge problem with staying inside my head and letting things spin out of control.

But the song goes so much deeper. It’s the start of a journey of self awareness, of learning who you are and how to get there. It’s so hard at first. You just see darkness and a blank page. The song takes it’s inspiration from a darkroom for photography development. Which I found to be a fantastic analogy.

When I first started looking at my mental health and decided to make that change. I felt alone. I was in a dark room, looking at a bunch of blank pictures, afraid of what I was going to find when I started to develop them and see what they hold. To the point, where I stopped. I was too afraid to look at them.

But then I met some friends who came alongside me and showed me that I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to go through this scary thing on my own. To me, this song is from their perspective. They validated the way I felt, but also loved me enough not to let me stay in that spot. The lines “I can’t explain enough, and I won’t let it last the night / I’ll show you that the image is still there unseen.” Is an entire conversation in just two lines. Countless times my friends have come to me and not let me sit in my depression.

They would sit with me through the proverbial night and continually remind me that even though I couldn’t see the happiness and joy in some of the pictures I was uncovering, that it was there. They were determined to sit with me as long as it took until I could see the joy. That phrase being repeated throughout the song is just a reminder that it’s not just one time and then your done. It happens over and over.

We’d often go back to that place, and they would always, without complaint, sit with me and help me through it. They often had to remind me that it’s “Darkest before the light” But not only did they sit with me and help, they put themselves in my shoes. They took on my pain and carried it with me.

They could have easily said “You get in your own way, tripping on your feet” but instead, they carried it with me. “We get in our own way.” They became a part of the struggle. Because of that, they experienced the pain and hurt I felt, but also they got to experience the joys I had as well. They walked along with me as equals, not as superiors.

That is one of the most important things through my walk. Having people walk with me as equals and treat me as if I have worth and as if I’m not broken, damaged, or hurt. They never pushed me further than I was willing to go, and never put me down if I canceled on plans because it was a bad day.

They were my rock during those early years (and in many cases still are) and to me, this song is their expression of support. They were going to do everything in their power to show me the light I had lost, and they weren’t going to rest until that task was accomplished.