Thursday, April 9, 2009

Story in a Song

I was, once again, asked to contribute to the Wednesday Midday Medley show on 90.1FM KKFI. The show is hosted & produced by a dear friend of mine, Mark Manning. The program aired yesterday and in case you didn't catch it, I've decided to publish my story here as well. 7 individuals were asked to write a story about a song that greatly changed/influenced their life in some way. Because I demand to be difficult, I wrote about 2 songs in my story. Enjoy!


To tell the story of my song, I must first share with you the story of another song. The year was 2006. At 23, I was married to my college boyfriend, owned a house in an up and coming neighborhood, had just received a major promotion at work and was Miserable with a capital M. I had never loved my husband, I had married him because it was safe, I didn’t even want to be live in the house we had bought, but did so because I thought it was a safe investment. And while my job was stimulating, it too was safe. Oh yeah, and I was more than 100 pounds over weight.

Without ever listening to the lyrics, let alone understanding what they could mean to me, I had gotten hooked on the upbeat and lively sound of the Death Cab for Cutie single, “The Sound of Settling.” One day, while singing along to the “ba-baaa, ba-bAA’s!” of the chorus, I heard the words for the very first time. Cleverly hidden behind the happy-go-lucky tempo of the chorus and the sing-songy verses were words that touched my soul. They were the Sounds of Settling.

What had I settled on? you ask. In a nutshell; everything. I had done worse than settle in my relationship, job AND health. I had settled for a lesser version of myself. Settling in the aforementioned areas were just side effects of a much bigger problem. This song opened my eyes to the fact that I had settled for less for myself.

I was terrified. All the things in life that are worth having are SCARY. And who wants to put themselves on the line in such a vulnerable, exposed way when you can settle? Settling is so easy! Not only had I settled, but I ACTIVLEY settled for less, as the song suggests… you have a hunger twisting your stomach into knots, your brain is repeating “if you’ve got an impulse… LET IT OUT!” but those impulses never make it past your mouth…. And THAT is the sound of settling.

The Sound of Settling by Death Cab for Cutie

So, I decided to so something about it. Little things at first… because, again, those were easiest. I looked into (and got) a transfer at work. Better. But the song still resonated with me. I began a diet a program. Better yet! However, the lyrics still haunted me. I started exercising. Even better. But THAT song. The sounds of settling still stuck with me. I had tried to evaluate every area of my life to try to understand why I was still feeling this way, and I had… except for one. Love. I did not love. I did not love me.

It took less than the opening second of my song for me to realize that this was my anthem. For far too long of my then 24 year existence I felt as though I was without one. An anthem, to me, is so much more than a song that plays in one’s head while walking down the street… it is the song that embodies WHY you do all the things that you do. An affirmation, a reminder of why you are the way you are.

A huge weight was taken off of my shoulders, hearing this song made me aware with words of the type of person I am. That hadn’t happened before with words, or more specifically, with song and verse. It explained so much and I was beginning to “get it.”

The timing of hearing this song was nothing less than the Fates intervening. I had already begun to make the changes necessary for me to continue on in my journey of not settling, and there was just that last hurdle to clear: love. As cliché as it sounds, I was out to discover myself, someone I had neglected for far too long as evident from my size, spirit… and spouse.

So, who was Natasha? I knew she was funny, had great hair and had an insatiable hunger for shoes. Beyond that, I had often found myself relating to the character played by Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. Someone who never had an opinion on much of anything regarding themselves and willing to adopt anyone else’s who offered one.

A chameleon? A shape shifter? A shapeshifting chameleon? I don’t know what I would call that type of person, but I did not want to be one any longer, I was finally ready to love myself. I needed to love myself.

But isn’t that the most terrifying thing you can do? To love yourself without condition? To shout from the highest mountain top that you matter to yourself and that you’re willing to make hard decisions and sacrifices that are for your own benefit. Terrifying AND socially unaccepted. I had believed for far too long that we are suppose to love others first and that if you can love others… then others will love you.

I was sadly mistaken. Love comes only from within, no amount of external forces can love you if you don’t. I had to embrace love and this song made me realize I can. Loving yourself is the only way to not settle. Love is the greatest and most important force in the entire universe and anything that makes you fall in love with yourself is well worth the risk.

So, if I were to take the next step in loving myself, that meant I had to divorce my husband. This made all the work I had done up until this point seem like mere child play. I had to stand up against the person who had come to define my whole existence.

I was not surprised the day I woke up and realized what I had to do. It was quite obvious (later on I would find out HOW obvious from my friends and family). I had to leave, to go on my own way, to do things that terrified me (living alone, thinking for myself, trying new things, risk failure…). I had to take the time to make the journey to fall in love with me.

And I have. It’s been a little over 2 years since I left my loveless existence behind. Because I love me, I love my job, apartment, my new svelte figure, friends, family and so much more. I love the way the winds sounds when it blows outside of my window on stormy days. I love the streetlamps on 39th and Stateline. I love the 2 little puppies, Kisten & Kane that frolic in the yard the street from me. I love it that I can cry at the drop of a hat. I love…

This song made me realize how strong of a drug love can be. The high of being in love, the analogy that love is a drug… if THAT gets my heart broken a thousand times, then so be it. I love love. I love being in love. I don’t care what it does to me.

Inches & Falling by The Formats


careybic said...

That might be one of the most amazing things I've ever read. Thanks for sharing.

Stevester said...

Since I am a man and am not allowed to cry unless a horse dies or the Chiefs lose, I would like to share that your story made me fart, but not a funny fart, one of those long, drawn out sad ones. That is all.