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Music is a Safe Place.

by Franchessica Hannawacker 7 months ago in playlist

The Songs That Saved Me.


When I was ten years old my mom moved the two of us away from my hometown in Washington to Las Vegas, NV. My older cousin came with us for about a year. We all lived together in my grandma’s house. My cousin and I would sit on the front porch at night talking about silly things like how the mountain in the distance looked like it was pasted on the sky. Similar to how they do it in the movies with their fake backdrops. During one of these conversations that stole us from reality, I was gifted my first Linkin Park cd. I had borrowed Hybrid Theory from him and could not stop listening to it. I carried my portable CD player with me everywhere and would always have the cd playing in my background. Finally, he just told me to keep it.

Coming from a world of The Backstreet Boys and The Spice Girls, Linkin Park’s emotional lyricism connected me to a world that felt raw. Chester and Mike filled a hole inside of me I had not realized was growing with intensity. They were able to put how I was feeling into words when I could not. They fed my soul when I felt completely empty.

After our 12 months of companionship, my cousin went home. My mom was now married and pregnant. The house was filled with fighting that stemmed back to my mom's abusive childhood. During a particularly nasty fight, my grandma threw us out on the street. My eight-month pregnant mom, her new husband, and I stayed in a cheap hotel until we could afford a place of our own. I continued to blast Hybrid theory at all hours through my headphones. Trying to stay strong when I was falling apart with every breath. The entire cd resonates with me deeply to this day. Then, the song that hit home was Points Of Authority. My mom was suffering from so much pain. She did not know how to handle it healthily. I became her emotional punching bag.

You take away when I give in // My life, my pride is broken // You like to think you're never wrong // You have to act like you're someone // You want someone to hurt like you // You wanna share what you have been through

Those lyrics rang so true. My mom was hurting because of the relationship she had with her mother. She was in a new place, with a new man, with a new child on the way, and she wanted to share her pain with someone who felt familiar. I grew to resent her because of the way she handled those emotions. It lit a fire within me that before was never even a whisper of an ember. My mom eventually smashed my Hybrid Theory cd with a hammer when she grew tired of me constantly listening to it.

Enter the Seventh Grade and the third school I had been transferred to since moving to Vegas. What started as resentment for my mom has transformed into a full-on rebellion. I am alone in the world. I am searching for love. I have now developed insomnia from stress and the beginnings of an intense depression festering inside of me. I have surrounded myself with people who wear cut-off vests and long spiked Mohawks that could no doubt poke an eye out. They skateboard and they do not care that my clothes are not new. I am introduced to Rancid’s Out Come The Wolves album and Eve 6. Rancid had a way of lifting me when I was around other people. Eve 6 on the other hand, spoke to that little festering darkness inside of me.

I had a habit of having my head in the clouds. Picturing different outcomes to my day or dramatizing events that had already happened. My mom called me a daydreamer but the actual term for it is dissociation. Eve 6’s song, At Least We’re Dreaming, burned through my cd player’s replay.

Live in an apartment that bums me out // It don't get better when the lights go out //Waiting for someone to come along and find me

The outcome of my rebellion at home resulted in the complete separation from my family. When they went out to eat I stayed home. When they did things together I opted out. I did not want anything to do with them creating more loneliness for myself to sink into. At times I felt like I was suffocating-drowning in the emotions I had. I did not know what to do with them and no one saw what was happening. Everyone in my life seemed to be utterly blind to the sadness that was pulling me in. I wanted someone to see me, to help me, and to find me. I would cry to my mom in the middle of the night because I could not fall asleep and I was so tired. She would turn me away, threaten me, and warn me not to wake her up again.

At least you're breathing // At least you're alive // As long as you're dreaming // Everything's gonna be all right // See everything's gonna be all right // I'm all right, I tell myself twice // In the mirror before I can't go to sleep at night

At Least We’re Dreaming absorbed into my person. It was like Eve 6 knew exactly what I was feeling. They were speaking to me through my headphones. They told me it was going to be alright. As long as I kept dreaming and creating a world for myself that I felt okay in. The beginning of my creative revolutions. I began writing about anything and everything. Diaries, short stories, poems, and even songs. I wrote a short story about a guy friend falling in love with me and shared it with a girlfriend I thought was solid in my life. She shared it with everyone else. I was laughed out of our group of rebels. Not that it mattered much. We moved again shortly after.

The first time I heard The Taste of Ink by The Used I was entirely consumed by it. This song, I mean wow, this song grabs my heart with both hands and smothers it with emotion. Listening to it now still makes me want to scream it at the top of my lungs, which I have done many times at their concerts, and throw my hands into the air in complete surrender. The Taste of Ink starts playing and my heart does summersaults.

Is it worth it, can you even hear me //Standing with your spotlight on me // Not enough to feed the hungry // I'm tired, and I've felt it for a while now // In this sea of lonely // The taste of ink is getting old // It's four o'clock in the fucking morning // Each day gets more and more like the last day // Still I can see it coming // While I'm standing in the river drowning // This could be my chance to break out // This could be my chance to say goodbye // At last it's finally over // Couldn't take this town much longer // half-dead wasn't what I planned to be // Now I'm ready to be free

Depression is hard. I think every teenager goes through hard times when they are transitioning into adulthood. We all get a little sad. But, full-on depression when you are fifteen years old is something I do not wish on anyone. When you have a constant feeling of despondency and all you want to do is disappear. I felt myself shatter to pieces over and over again. I could literally feel myself breaking. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced. The Used ignited something inside of me I thought to be completely extinguished. It was like a switch was flipped when I heard The Taste of Ink. Something seemed to say, “Why not survive all this? Why not leave this place and live your life? Why let them win? Why give them that satisfaction?” This song says I know you are lonely, I know every day seems on repeat, and I know you think you are stuck-but you are not. You can break free of all these chains and be happy. This song is the brightest beacon of hope in all my darkness.

As long as you're alive // Here I am // I promise I will take you there // Here I am // Alive at last // And I'll savor every moment of this

Bert, the lead singer of The Used, spoke directly to me it seemed. He saw me alone in the world and gave me something to hold onto. This song, this band, played a tremendous role in saving my life.

Depression does not just go away with a snap of your fingers. My circumstances were still pretty questionable at home. I was still struggling through adolescence. I had music to guide me through my feelings. I had art, I had books, and I had my therapist. Nothing held my head above water the way music did and still does. Anthem of Our Dying Day by The Story of the Year is another song that found itself on repeat in my world. Living in Las Vegas the city is the heart of everything. You can see the city’s lights from just about anywhere. I associated Vegas with everything that went wrong in my life. I moved there and my life was brutally murdered.

From up here, the city lights burn // Like a thousand miles of fire // And I'm here to sing this anthem // Of our dying day // For a second I wish the tide // Would swallow every inch of this city // As you gasp for air tonight // I'd scream this song right in your face if you were here

I wanted out of there more than anything else in the world. I hated that city that so many other people thought was the greatest. I listened to this song with my back pressed up against my bedroom door, knees pulled in, as tears streamed down my face. I would silently scream the lyrics into the air to try shedding the feelings that were exploding inside my body like grenades.

Through all of the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse I was enduring at home. I always forgave my mom. More than anything I just wanted her to love me. Actually, see me and love me. At one point I did actually attempt to commit suicide. When I closed my eyes thinking I was going to be doing so for the last time, I felt at peace. The struggle of never being good enough to the only person who mattered to you is annihilating. Feeling like every day is another day you failed. I mean, at that point I had broken so many times I considered myself dust so carelessly swept away into the world. The Used came to my rescue once more with Buried Myself Alive.

You almost always pick the best times // To drop the worst lines // You almost made me cry again this time // Another false alarm // Red flashing lights // Well, this time I'm not going to watch myself die

I turned myself off to my mom. I shut her out and tried not to let her pain cause me pain anymore. I chose to live for myself. When they talk about being trapped in your own way that melody really struck my heartstrings. Will this endless cycle keep repeating itself through generations or would the suffering end with me?

I buried myself alive on the inside // So I could shut you out // And let you go away for a long time // And if you want me back // You're gonna have to ask // Nicer than that

I not only shut my mom out but also the rest of the world. I was tired of being disappointed or feeling like I was the disappointment. The Used, and so many of their songs, speared my heart. I would sing through Buried Myself Alive, screaming it at the end, and I would feel release. Instead of feeling tightly trapped inside of myself, I would feel like a slow exhale of breath released from pent-up lungs.

Music had become my safe place. I would channel the emotions from the songs I listened to. I would use them to describe the way I was feeling. I used music as a crutch to navigate through my world. Half-truths mixed with dissociation. My mom told me if I wanted to be happy so bad then I just had to tell myself to be happy and then I would be. I do wish it was that easy. So many times my mom shrugged off the way I was feeling because she did not believe that depression was an actual disorder. She thought it was just a choice. I was, more or less, left to sort myself out. I wanted, more than anything, to feel like I belonged somewhere. To feel normal or like I fit in or like someone liked me for who I was.

I wanna know what it's like to be awkward and innocent, not belligerent // I wanna know how it feels to be useful and pertinent and have common sense yeah // Let me in, let me into the club, // 'cause I wanna belong And I need to get strong, //and if memory serves // I'm addicted to words // and they're useless

Motion City Soundtracks’ LG FUAD, was poetic justice to my labyrinth of emotions. I listened to this song until I had every word dissected and memorized. My brain screamed, “perfection!” I did want to belong, I did want to get strong, I did want to matter, and I was certainly addicted to words.

I'm about to explode // I'm a mess, I'm a wreck // I am perfect, // and I have learned to accept // all my problems and shortcomings // Because I am so visceral, // yet deeply inept

Let me just touch on the genius of their lyricism-It all hit home. This song was about being like me but wanting to find redemption and a place in the world. It is about accepting yourself even with all your flaws. To stop trying to be the person everyone wanted me to be. To accept my deep feelings and emotions and run with them.

For the last time with feeling // We'll try not to smile // As we cover our heads and drink heavily into the nights // That's no shock and surprise // I believe that I can, overcome this and beat everything in the end // But I choose to abuse for the time being // Maybe I'll win, but for now I've decided to die

The fight to overcome depression is lifelong. You have days where you win and some when you do not. As long as you believe in yourself and never lose hope anything is impossible. This song started my road to acceptance of myself. Maybe if I counted my wins and stopped trying to change myself so many things would get better.

As I got older I was able to gain more freedom in life. From going to school, to working, and saving up enough to purchase my first car. I was away from home as much as possible. I started searching for myself and who I wanted to be in the world. The more I was away from the pressures of my mom the more I realized the reality she painted for me was false. I began my journey out of the darkness. I started seeing beauty in myself and the world. I was still shrouded in anger but the healing process was beginning.

She's just like him // Spoiled rotten //Confused by the lies she's been fed // And she's searching for no one. (But herself) // Her eyes turn to green and she seems to be happy // That she is here

You’re Not Alone by Saosin was released when I was sixteen. By this time I had accumulated a few friends in my life that supported me. They understood my struggles. More importantly, they saw me. Life was starting to make sense. I left home for a little while finding my way through the world on my own. I slept on couches-on floors. Never the same house twice. Even though I did not have a permanent place to rest my head I was happy. I felt free for the first time and like I had people who cared about me. I was going to concerts to dance my way through mosh pits. I felt true belonging in the world for the first time. You’re Not Alone ties this time in my life up in a pretty bow.

You're not alone // There is more to this, I know // You can make it out // You will live to tell

I experienced a world that, to me, was worth living for. I found my place in greying darkness. I found people who felt the way I was feeling. They accepted all of me just the way I was. They did not expect me to change. It was absolutely beautiful liberation.

My life changed in those moments I was away from home. Being sixteen I could not do much without parental consent. I did return to my mother in the end as a new person. I had a fight in me that could not be beaten. A fight that swelled inside me for the remaining year and some cents I had left under my mom’s roof. Music continued to push me forward each day. Cue The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus in all their glory. Their album, Don’t You Fake It, pumped the electrifying sound waves I needed to continuously jumpstart my heart.

I remember a year ago, I was standing in the crowd // Waiting for my chance to break through, my chance to live again //Now it seems I've found some friends who finally understand // What it takes to make this dream come true, we'll be here till the end

Their song In Fate’s Hands kept the belonging alive I gained from attending concerts with people like me. It reminded me of the world outside my walled-in prison.

Oh, wish I could thank you all for what you have done // And all of the things that you have shared with me // Oh, wish I could take you all too where I must go

Their words spoke to me through speakers to remind me of the community I had discovered. The friends I had made. The way they seemed to understand the very struggle I had been desperately crawling through for so many years. They said to me, “you’re so close, don’t stop now.”

In their song waiting,

And bring back the days we had before tomorrow // Relapse and then collapse into yourself once more // Wish I could make her pull herself up off the floor // Waiting for this life to change seems like it's takin' me forever // Take time to contemplate who you are and where you want to go

It was like meditation through song. Anytime I felt myself slipping back into the darkness of my despair I would plugin. Music makes the rest of the world muffled around you. I was manifesting in their message. These bands, their music, their message, their struggles-they saved me every day. They created a world for me that was safe. These complete strangers somehow understood exactly who I was and what I was going through. Their hands outstretched through speakers to embrace the broken adolescent child before them. Their music was made for me in the best ways.

I will forever be grateful for the creative souls that got me through my darkest times in life. I know their struggles fueled the music they created. We got through it all together. So many people in the world struggle with depression or struggle to find their place. Music is a safe place. A place where people can come together to be themselves and fit into a community that accepts them.


Franchessica Hannawacker

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Franchessica Hannawacker
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