The Story Behind the Songs
Allow me to introduce this EP and explain the story behind TMI. This is not an EP about a victim, this EP takes it a step beyond that. Okay, so I put up my hand and say I’ve had hurtful things happen to me, now what? I still have to live with myself everyday— don’t get me wrong there is absolutely power in telling someone and having a voice that will be heard when telling your story. I learned this is a great place to start, but it doesn't change your mental state. It doesn't change your thought life when you wake up in the morning and it definitely has no affect on your self love as you try and walk it out on a daily basis. We have all had hurtful experiences in our life, every one of us has had unfair, tragic, and ill-fated things that come across our paths. This EP is about me learning to accept that, and accepting these things as a part of who I am. It is about me, reintroducing myself to myself; the new me, the scarred me, and learning what new strengths I have and what things I need to let go of. I am choosing to tell my story backwards, because I think that people (myself included) look at other people and compare themselves. Everyone compares, but it’s super rare that you actually get to have a conversation with the person you are comparing yourself to and understand how they got to where they are today. This step is typically skipped, yet it’s so crucial because to understand where someone is today, you need to understand the struggle they went through yesterday. But the way our society functions is by keeping the struggle hidden, keeping the mental breakdowns, the anxiety, and the years and years of mental labour hidden. So. Here’s me today, genuinely happy and confident, excited for the future, and here’s my story backwards that tells you how I got here. I am choosing to tell my story backwards, because I think that people (myself included) look at other people and compare themselves. Everyone compares, but it’s super rare that you actually get to have a conversation with the person you are comparing yourself to and understand how they got to where they are today. This step is typically skipped, yet it’s so crucial because to understand where someone is today, you need to understand the struggle they went through yesterday. But the way our society functions is by keeping the struggle hidden, keeping the mental breakdowns, the anxiety, and the years and years of mental labour hidden. So. Here’s me today, genuinely happy and confident, excited for the future, and here’s my story backwards that tells you how I got here.
BITE MY TONGUE
I am me, I accept it, the good, the bad, the memories, it’s all a part of who I am and I am happy with who each of these individual parts has enabled me to become. It’s kind of about accepting responsibility for where I am in my life. There’s such a fine line between guilt, shame, and blaming things on yourself. This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a liberating empowering feeling of responsibility. I’m talking about that moment when you come to the realization that yes unfair things have happened to you, yes people have wronged you, and yes these things are the facts. Yet the life changing moment is when instead of pointing fingers at other people and society and feeling sorry for yourself, you are able to finally look inward and take responsibility for your role in the situation. I am by no means saying anyone deserves to be wronged and I am by no means saying that things that happen to you are always in your control, but did you have a role in the situation? For me personally, I realized that before the worst even happened, I had gotten myself into some questionable situations. I also realized that playing the victim and pointing fingers was easier than trying to change myself. This was such a liberating realization for me; it helped me gain control of my life again. I don’t have control of other people, I don't have control of unforeseeable circumstances, but I do have control of how I handle and deal with them. I can’t change people and I can’t change society, but I can change me and make sure that never again in my life will I subject myself to those people and those situations. That’s liberating!! Taking responsibility for my own role in my life and how I got here is freeing and encouraging. It doesn’t mean it'll be easy or that I’ll poop rainbows from here on out, but it means I have a chance. Before it was hopeless, there was no chance at changing things in my life because they were all so far out of my control, now everything is at least attainable.
Allowing myself to feel. Allowing myself to feel everything that I had buried and avoided for the last 6 years of my life. This was by far the most painful and hard season of life I have gone through. In order to truly move on and let go of these painful things that happened in my life I had to feel them. I had to allow myself the time to cry, to be angry, and to be depressed. This process started because of a relationship I had. What this relationship taught me was that if you choose to feel, you can’t choose to feel some things and not others— you just feel. For the first time in a long time I had chosen to feel something, and that quite literally broke the dam to everything I had been bottling up and ignoring. There was legitimately a few week period where I skipped my university classes, to stay in my little 15th floor apartment and cry all day, every day (lol just melodramatic me over here)—literally curled in a ball because the pain was so much, it made my body physically weak. I was overwhelmed with emotions and memories that I had forgotten until then. This seems super sad and depressing, and I guess a part of it is — but honestly, it was the healthiest, most helpful thing I’ve ever done. It was the first time I actually accepted myself for exactly where I was at, no matter how messy it was. It helped me realize that the only person I was fooling by pretending everything was fine, was me. Also word to the wise: If you allow yourself to feel and cry and let those emotions out on a daily basis, you won’t have to go through this… I strongly suggest doing that and skipping this if possible.
BETTER OFF ALONE
The period of my life of facing the facts; taking the time to stop and smell the roses, and then realizing I hate the smell of roses. It started while I was on a bus, heading back to the town where I grew up. I had such mixed feelings; super excited to see my family and hangout, but also so anxious. I had no idea where this weird anxious feeling was coming from, so I spent most of the drive trying to figure it out. It took me a while, but I realized these mixed feelings were partly because some of the best memories of my life are in my hometown. So many positive exciting things happened there. But also, some of my worst memories are there. When I drive in and pass different personal landmarks, it feels like they're haunting me. When I’m away, living in a different city, it’s so easy to forget about these memories and feelings. They feel like a different lifetime— and even a different person— but when I drive into my hometown, a little piece of me feels anxious. It’s almost like when I went there, I was reminded of who I actually was. The part of myself that I was trying desperately to avoid haunted me when I went to my hometown.
This song is kind of a little peak into my thought life. It’s the back and forth conversation I’d continually have with myself about my reality and the way I wished things could be. It’s about the day dreams I had for many years, my fantasy life. It’s a really happy place that I invented. But these daydreams stemmed from the feelings of being lost and having no safe place. There were different periods of time where I legit swear I allowed my thoughts to live in a fantasy bubble and just pretended that was my life. This isn’t sustainable because it’s essentially denial. It was a period of my life that I kind of just floated through, no real feelings of sadness or happiness; like the line says “the sunrise on my skin, tell me is it sinking in, cause I can’t feel it anyways”. I was numb, unwilling to accept parts of my life and avoiding everything in my search for happiness. Spoiler alert, I promise that this method does not work and does not help you find bliss. It was a period of time where I kind of was starting to realize I was in denial and that I had to start thinking about and processing things, but I was honestly scared. I was scared to let my thoughts wander because I didn't know where they’d go, and I didn't want to know. Following my thoughts down the dark tunnel that led to my feelings could only end in tragedy, and I knew that, and I wasn’t ready to accept that, so I opted for numbness and having no real feelings, in my mind consoling myself saying it was ignorant bliss. That was a lie, deep down I knew.
Rewind to first year university Zoe. During this time in my life I realized I was being very cold-hearted. I remember there was an exact moment when it hit me that I was being cold, and probably even mean and hurting other people. It’s funny how that works because that is exactly what got me into my own sad and dark place. The moment was when I was walking with a friend, who was also trying to be more than friends. I shut him down super hard, unnecessarily hard, and he looked at me and said, “Damn Zoe, I knew eventually you were probably going to let me down easy and say no, but I wasn’t ready for this. That was so cold, friend to friend, that was cold, do you even have a heart?” As I walked the rest of the way home alone I really got to thinking, “you kind of don’t have a heart, Zoe. Well, you have one, but you choose not to use it.” As I reflected over the last few years of my life, I realized that in my own anger and hurt caused by other people, I had actually been the one causing hurt and anger to people in my life. It’s such a sad cycle. For me looking back it seems like an avoidable cycle, if I had just chosen to accept my “heart” and the things I was feeling. Although they were negative feelings, they had validity. Yet, because I didn’t like the way they felt, I deemed them invalid and not useful— but this is not true. I decided to ignore my feelings and turn off my heart. It’s interesting to look back now because it seems so obvious that doing this set me back, and turned me into a person I didn’t actually want to be.
Let’s begin the story over 10 years ago. YES THIS ALL STARTED OVER 10 YEARS AGO— that blows my mind (side note: People want results over night. It’s impossible. When trying to change your thought life, it’s almost like trying to change your DNA). The story begins with teenage Zoe making stupid decisions. I was bitter and felt like unfair things had destructed me, so I might as well take that pain out by being destructive in my own life and towards others. I didn’t like the way I felt, and I blamed my pain on my emotions. The pain that I felt made me feel physically weak, and I think looking back now I can say that my subconscious attached the feeling of being weak to the fact that I was feeling at all. If I took the feelings away I couldn’t feel weak anymore; crisis averted, problem solved. At that point in my life, if I allowed myself to feel, my negative feelings would overwhelm the positive ones. When I was emotional, life was no fun. When I turned off my emotions and refused to think about or accept the things happening in my life, I could have fun. Before I knew it, that was all I could focus on - the next distraction. There was a dark pull inside of me, I don’t know how else to explain it. I knew the things I was doing were hurting people, and I knew they were hurting myself. I knew they were “bad”, but for some reason doing it felt kind of good. It’s almost like when I was putting a little bit of bad back into the universe, that meant the bad wasn’t with me anymore. It was someone else’s problem. I had this constant struggle of not wanting to be a bad person but also only feeling some kind of release when I did bad things.
For me personally, I adapted to mentally survive. I adapted by shutting off my emotions. I'm not saying this so people pull out their violins and serenade me. I know that life can be a battle, and that everyone has their own difficult things they're dealing with. I'm saying it because it caused me to use my emotions (or lack thereof) as my weapon, my way of protecting myself. When I allowed myself to feel, I hated the way I felt. My feelings paralyzed me. I knew I couldn't stay paralyzed and stagnant in life, so I quickly learned to turn off my feelings-- burying them in the deepest part of me, never to be felt again. The problem with this battle technique is that you can't choose to feel some things and not others. I got to a point where I couldn't feel anything. I was numb, the good and the bad, it all felt the same. This way of coping with life and its tragedies has one fatal flaw-- although it does get you from point A to point B, that is all you do-- simply float, almost lifeless, from A to B. The fatal flaw is that it views emotions as a weakness. I have learned this could not be further from the truth. Emotions are a strength. They are what drive you to action. They allow you to be passionate about things, and above all they allow you to love. Without love in your life you lack meaning, and have no drive to move forward. I think that is the saddest way to live life. Writing became a therapy for me. Music became a translator between my heart and my head. When I didn't know what to feel or how to feel I'd write about it, and then I'd look back and understand myself based on my writing. So I guess in a nutshell, that's what this EP is about; me learning to feel again, and the journey of learning to not only accept those feelings, but also to be grateful for them and embrace them as my strength, not my weakness. I hope that this EP encourages others to do the same. What a different world we would live in if everyone view love as a strength.