There’s More Than One of Everything

Today my dad is turning fifty, and I wanted to write a little about why I love him so much.

Some of you know that my best friend died while I was a junior in high school. Which sucked, majorly. One thing I really liked about my late friend was that I could be myself around him. I didn’t realize until about a year after he was killed that I have depression and anxiety, but I think the symptoms had already started to manifest themselves before I was diagnosed. This friend would always make sure I was included on group inside jokes. He understood when I was grumpy and didn’t want to talk much (probably because he got that way a lot, too). I would call him when my boyfriend was out of town, because he understood that loneliness. And then, dear Readers, he was gone.

I was seventeen. It seemed like I would never be able to really move on from it. To be sure, I still have an Andrew-shaped hole in my heart, but it doesn’t hurt as often as it used to. I felt like I had lost all my friends (I had been dumped the month before), and I didn’t know who to turn to. And because I had been pretty involved in my boyfriend during the first part of high school, I had kind of drifted away from my parents.

That spring, I found a friendship with my father that had never existed so strongly before. He had lost his brother in a freak accident about a decade previously, and he was always there to talk about how sucky I felt. Really, Readers. At that point, I hadn’t become suicidal yet, but I was filled with that awful, depressive numbness that follows shock and desertion. He would meet me on the couch many nights and just listen and hold me and tell me how to move forward. Dad, don’t deny it; it’s true.

Eventually, these talks morphed into watching TV shows together, some he owned and some on Amazon. The first show he introduced me to is still my favorite (Fringe), and we watched all five seasons together on that couch, even though he had already seen all of them. He made sure that I caught on when something significant or interesting went down, and he even provided me with details about different scenes and actors on the show. Fringe made me feel better because it helped me realize that other people know how frightening and painful life can be (is), and I felt (feel) like I’m almost in the Fringe family.

And so my father became the friend that made sure I was included.

I changed a lot during high school. Both my parents noticed a difference. I became more bitter, dark, sarcastic, and, I would argue, crude. Gone was the Maney that believed in “happily ever after” (I’m still working on that, to be truthful). In a lot of ways, it made them uncomfortable. I’m sure that they, like me, missed the innocent, shining, cheerful Maney. But I dealt with it, and so did they. They got used to my new-found introversion, my sardonic comments, and how some days I wouldn’t be kind to anyone. My dad especially would approach me with sentiments like, “I can see you’re not feeling well today, and I just want you to know I noticed and that I’m going to give you some space.” To be honest, those words would always bother me at the time, but the next day I would look back and realize that he loved me, no matter how much of a jerk I was being. Not only did he love me, but he was trying to understand.

And so my father made sure I was left alone sometimes, but that I still felt just as loved.

Well, during high school I realized I could probably not handle moving out for college just yet. I decided to go to a close-ish university and live at home with my parents. Some time passed and recently I have moved away to go to my dream university. I’m no longer at home. But both of my parents insist that I call them if I ever feel down and need some support and comfort. Since my dad is more into texting, on days when I don’t really want to talk, I’ll just shoot him a text, and he always responds. Just the other day I texted him something like, “Feeling depressed,” and he responded with, “Hang tough…” etc. I know he gets it, because he deals with the same kind of crap every day.

And so my father still listens when I need advice or help or just the reassurance that someone cares.

So, Dad, I hope when you read this in your inbox in your little smart phone, you know that I love you. And you are one of my best friends. And right now I’m really missing you, and tears are kind of swimming against my eyeballs.

And happy birthday.

Your Song

I really love music. Probably it’s one of the biggest things in my life; listening to it, creating it, learning about it. I love that feeling when I’m playing an instrument and a song is coming from my mouth. I’m not super talented at music but I love it, and that’s good enough for me.

Lately I’ve been getting into guitar more. Usually I stick to piano when I want to play, and I guess I’ve dabbled in chords and frets before. However, lately it’s more like a need–something hugely desirable and enticing. Let me just get to the strings, I think, and I’ll know what calmness feels like.

I’ve written a few songs but they’re really cheesy and amateur. Mostly I fall for someone and suddenly I think I’m Taylor Swift or something. Making big bucks on her relationships. (I guess lots of people like her stuff. I respect that. I don’t.) I guess I mostly write lyrics about love and religion. In my defense, my poetry covers more than that!

And I’m not one of those people who can sit down to a new piece and play it flawlessly. I can’t even really play by ear either. I’m one of those muscle memory people; I get into a song, play it hundreds of times, and eventually I find that my fingers can find the notes on their own. It’s like typing, really; I can never remember my passwords if I’m not at a keyboard.

Why am I writing about music? Because tonight I heard a song with my name as the title. And I thought about songs that have been written for me. I can only think of a couple, but I remember how much they meant to me. Reader, if someone wrote a song for you, what would you want it to be about? And, Reader, if someone wrote a song about you–capturing your personality, your talents, your heart–what would it sound like? Think about it.

I bet it would be more beautiful than you think.

I Will Rise

Dear Reader,

It was two days ago that the darkness filled my mind like it used to. I don’t know why it came; to me, despite a few recent changes in my life, it seemed a little over-the-top depressive. You remember the old problems: all my nerve ablaze; my whole being buzzing like I don’t know what; that craving for self-harm; possibly for everything to be over. #notpretty

Parents gave advice. Family provided wallow food. Friends offered laughter. I kind of skated over the problem until yesterday, when my cousin mentioned that she hadn’t been to the temple in a while, and would I like to go?

(If you’re not familiar with LDS (Mormon) temples, here is a snippet about their use from my church’s website.

http://www.mormon.org/faq/topic/temples/question/use-of-temples )

And now, my dear Reader, I feel better. Whatever demon was plaguing me, it seems to have vanished since I went and served in “the mountain of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:2-3).

Sometimes I feel like I am two people. On the one hand, I’m this church-going, Jesus-Christ-loving, funeral-potatoes-making “Molly Mormon.” And on the other hand, I am this tough, anxious, dark, depressed-but-still-fighting, sometimes-suicidal “Maney” who likes to write about her issues and share them with the world. And I don’t know for sure, Reader, but I wonder: perhaps I am both? Perhaps these two pieces of me can and do exist harmoniously within my soul. I mean, not harmoniously. Sometimes it’s hard to be a good Mormon girl when I would rather punch people in the face than serve them.

I believe that Jesus Christ loves me. And I believe He knows my mental capabilities, which directly affect how I think and how I choose to live. And I believe He wants me to come to Him–not because I’m perfect and I’m ready to meet Him as an equal, but because I am constantly struggling and in pain and in search of peace, and I need His love, His acceptance, His Atonement. So, Reader, what I’m trying to say is, don’t give up on yourself just because you feel less than those around you. I believe Christ knows you, He loves you, and He wants to bless you.

Just go to Him, okay?

*     *     *

This is a cover of Chris Tomlin’s song “I Will Rise.” (Which, by the way, is SO beautiful. Thank you, Chris, for this gorgeous hymn.) The cover is by Alex Boye and I think a choir at Brigham Young University. It just inspires me.

Your friend,

Maney

Building Elves

I am a building elf.

You know when you enter a conference room and there are bunches of chairs and tables arranged conveniently for your use? You know when you walk into a bathroom and (of course you wouldn’t notice this but) the paper towels are in rich supply? You know when you look on the ground and the only stains you see are faint pink or pale brown? Well, look no further for this source of sorcery, for I am a building elf.

The point of that random intro was that I got a job on my new campus, and I finally understand who keeps the world from crashing into chaos. –> People like me. <–

“New campus?” you ask. Well, my dear Reader, I am now a transfer student. Yes. Not only do I have elvish powers, but I am also that fruitcake you see walking around your elite, world-renowned campus with a local community college T-shirt on. I’ll be the one that won’t let go of the easy life. The beautiful grade curve. The magical hour-long bus rides to school. The 100% acceptance rate.

It’s not like I don’t want to be here. Actually, that’s a lie. Nothing so far has truly inspired me to want to be at this new fancy-pants university. I guess the future job resume might seem perkier, but that’s in so many years… I’m complaining, aren’t I?

Sorry.

The point is, every day is turning into a huge mind game for me. Constantly I have to convince myself to not run off screaming, or at least to just keep still and get over myself. Because truly, Reader, I act like I am just sooo entitled. I often catch myself thinking (in no uncertain terms), “The world revolves around me and get me a dang milkshake or something, you peasant!” So I often tell myself, “Hey, Maney. Chill out. Remember David Foster Wallace’s speech about true education. It’s about awareness…”

So here’s the quote of the day: (And, Reader? This is water.)

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day…

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
“This is water.”
“This is water.”

A New Horizon

I didn’t mean to fall in love with him, but I did. Things like that happen, I suppose, in this journey of life. Casualties of the heart, perhaps. Have you ever fallen in love with someone who doesn’t love you back? I tell myself it’s good for me. I tell myself this will help me help others later on in my life; to understand, to empathize. I ignore the pain and I move on. This is one of my acquired gifts. But surely, you don’t think this is going to be the main subject of this post?

There’s a song by The Paper Kites that I’ve gotten into recently. It’s called “Featherstone,” and not only is the music beautiful and uplifting, but the lyrics are just so choice. In particular, I love these words:

And my love is yours but your love’s not mine
So I’ll go but we know I’ll see you down the line
And we’ll hate what we’ve lost but we’ll love what we find
And I’m feeling fine, we’ve made it to the coastline

Basically, I feel like this person is saying, “I love you and you don’t love me back, but, hey, our paths will cross again someday. This moment hurts and we won’t enjoy it, but what’s coming is so much better we’ll forget we ever felt this sadness. I feel okay because we’re at the edge of a new horizon.”

It hints at a beautiful future, and I, Maney, girl of depression and anxiety, dig it. When life is so full of confusion and pain–when you can’t see light at either end of the tunnel, and you don’t know which way to go–I love to believe that whichever way we pick, eventually we will find happiness, fulfillment; even joy.

So, my dear Reader, I hope you saunter forth. Believe me when I say I know how hard it is to do anything some days, let alone take life in your hands and keep moving forward. But from one average human to another, I truly hope you do. And even when you fail and it’s too hard to go on, if nothing else–if you don’t believe in a loving, comforting God or an all-knowing, all-loving Savior to help you forward–maybe it will help to know that a certain Maney is trying most days, failing others, but all around not giving up. And if I can do it, so can you.

“Featherstone” by The Paper Kites.