GROWING PAINS in the media

      Here is my translation of the interview Maria did with KK magazine in June. The journalist Birgitte Hoff Lysholm was the one who interviewed Maria. Here is a link to the interview online: kk.no/livet/maria-mena-30-om-s…ighet-til-å-ta-grep-39035. It was hard to translate this interview, because the journalist had written it in such a creative way that was difficult to translate. Anyway, maybe some of the people who visit this forum will enjoy reading it. I will make two posts, as the character limit for the forum is exceeded:

      - I know that I am different When the storm was at its most violent, Maria Mena logged off the world to connect to herself. She liked what she found. The gut feeling!
      Maria Mena (30) communicates with exclamation marks when she’s enthusiastic.- We have completely forgotten to follow our instinct. If only more of us knew ourselves, and our own needs and knew what we wanted, the world had become a better place. I am absolutely certain of it. When you know what you want, you become a clear person – and in turn fewer conflicts happen.She is so intensely present. There is no irrelevant talk with Maria Mena, or, she wouldhappily joke around, her laughter is as present as her tears, and her sense of humour is pretty crude – but if we are supposed to talk with each other, then we shall TALK WITH EACH OTHER. She looks straight into your eyes, grabs your arm to emphasise what she is talking about. That might scare people away, she does know that, but those who are left are worth taking care of. Now she has just given the C L E A R message that she is done with talking about her divorce. Three years ago the two year long marriage (the relationship lasted nine years) ended. What she would like to talk about is how it affected her to go through this new start to the adulthood. This feeling of being shaken from the core of what looked like a familiar track, and to have to find the new path alone. A new beginning, with a painful starting point. She has been there before. Just after she broke through in Norway at the age of 16, she was struggling with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and an eating disorder. She has made songs about her parents’ divorce, about how upsetting it felt to experience it as a child. Her story has been full of soreness, conveyed so beautifully through songs that many have recognised themselves in. But there is not a lot of beauty in the pain when you are in the middle of it.- It is about teaching yourself to stop the bad patterns. How life was, how you now want it to be. One of the biggest things I decided was that I was not going to be dependant of someone else’s confirmation, she starts saying. - In fact I discovered that I was depending on others, those being individual persons, my audience and music critics. Then I asked myself: What can I try to stop internalising, and step away from? How can I do that? [Note: This is an attempt to translate the term “avlære”, which basically is about trying to stop a habit or a bad pattern. I haven’t been able to find a similar term in English as this is a psychological term that Maria used in the interview.] She decided to look out for her gut feeling. To find it she had to remove noise that was external. Noise was going to come to Maria. She knew it was coming and imagined the headlines. What were they going to write? «Maria Mena DIVORCING», «The happiness ended?», «Maria Mena DEVASTATED after the divorce?». It was the newspapers’ version of what she went through, not hers. Someone was going to write about how she was doing, without having talked to her, without knowing her. She knew that she had a period ahead of her where these words would follow the picture of her if she opened the online newspapers. She decided to log off the Internet, and travel to Germany to do concerts [Night of the Proms].
      - I still don’t read newspapers. I don’t watch the news.
      - Aren’t you afraid of missing out on something?
      - No. It’s completely true, just try! Feel how lovely it is to log off and not become bombarded by information. Suddenly my own instinct was important again. I stopped reading newspapers, stopped checking Facebook, blocked messages from people I didn’t want to be in touch with, and then I travelled to Germany.
      It took time to find the gut feeling, we do not talk about days or weeks here, and when you first have found it you do not want to let go. You would rather tell people how to connect to themselves. «Sharing is caring» is the expression – Maria takes it a step further.
      - If you have experienced something someone can benefit from knowing about, then it is your damn obligation to talk about it. The press often put it in the words of me being so open. It is not because of the openness in itself or because I want to get more attention, I’m so tired of feeling that that is how it is. I want to create a change. When I talk about myself it is because I try to help creating a society that is more open. I get responses from people who feel that someone sees them, who experience that through my lyrics and what I say from the stage, they are not alone. If you have experienced a divorce or an eating disorder or anything else, you have an obligation to help others through it. Do you know someone who is struggling, get in touch with them! Call and say: «Now I see that you are going through something that I know something about. I shall help you.» Others don’t know how things are if we don’t talk with each other – going through a break-up feels like experiencing a death, but no one says that! It is a mourning process that isn’t accepted. The sorrow doesn’t fade for a while, even though you have moved on. By telling people they are not alone in going through heartbreak, you can save lives.
      She has not always been as clear on who she is and what she wants. The self-confidence has been shaped throughout half of her life, helped by a clever mentor. - Some of the most important things you learn when you are in treatment for an eating disorder is to change your thought patterns and focus on what you want to do. That applies to everything, really. For example I finally dare to say that I do not like 17th of May (Norway’s National Day/Constitution Day) and Christmas, and that I’d rather go someplace else then. You’re not supposed to say that. And while we are at it: I reserve the right to be negative, the world is full of positive people, and I don’t like festivals either. Love playing gigs at festivals, that is just fun. But if I’m going on a vacation, I rather travel to New York with a credit card that is not empty. Material bliss!
      She laughs.

      - I know that I am different, and I am beginning to understand that I am a little weird. But I honestly believe that more people should get to know themselves. When we don’t make that effort, then mindfulness is a thing that many people try, because we go on a downer when we don’t know ourselves as well as we should. We have lost the ability to understand when we are tired. The body lets us know long before we actually stand in front of what is exhausting us. Some get urticaria (hives/rash), I get cold sores and lose weight, and then we don’t understand why! I started crying at a mindfulness course, immediately when I laid down on the mat. Arrived at my doctor’s office with cold sores and weight loss. The feedback was clear: You are just tired! It is not dangerous, you are exhausted and need rest.

      She appreciates having what she calls Maria-days, including relaxing, tasty food and friends. She is currently working on gaining weight, because the past six months have consisted of a record release, playing concerts and promoting her music. Those things have been done after a couple of years where she went through a break-up examined herself. She called it «Project Maria».

      - I was completely aware of it: «Now you have to look after yourself even more for a while, until you know who you want to be,» I told myself. I sorted out all that had been bothering me, for me the break up was an opportunity to work on everything so that I could handle it.

      After a while the realisation of how we have power over many things, came. For example we can choose to quit being friends with bad friends. But it takes effort to change things, even as small events as getting out of bed in the morning when no one else is there and no one needs you. Being a songwriter with your office at home is a lonely job. No one discovers whether you sleep half of the day or whether you have worked at all. Maria has no trouble getting out of bed; she is wide awake at 5AM every morning. Having that rhythm with a night time job results in many naps throughout the day.
      - Those early hours are weird. You feel like the only person in the world. If you are lucky, you find a friend or two who also get up early, so that you have someone that you can text message. My morning routine is the same every day: I vacuum clean. I wash and clean. I like that, because then I tidy up in my head at the same time.
      She has been a songwriter throughout most of her life. It has taught her that even the darkest, most horrible things can turn into something beautiful. That does not mean that it does not hurt.
      - I don’t lose, I learn. Isn’t that nice? I shared that on Instagram when I found that quote: «You either win or learn.» That goes for everything, because how do you focus when life wants something different from what you have planned? When you go through sickness, break ups, being unemployed, involuntary childlessness, death. What do you do then? You have to learn. I have decided that I favour processes, I never reach the finish line.
      Maria Mena has learnt, and she has shared the knowledge. The last couple of years she has actively been collecting good friends. Friends who let her crash on their couch, friends who call and want help with handling grief and sickness; help picking the outfit of the day. During the day we spend together, she receives several of those calls – from an eight year old friend who needs help finding her key, a neighbour who thanks her for the clothes she has put on his doormat, another neighbour who wonders if she has plans for tonight or wants to come have shrimps and wine.
      - When I celebrated my 30th birthday in February I gathered all of my friends. Some of them asked: Where have you found these good people? She smiles.- I collect good people, no matter how old they are. I am where I want to be, I’ve achieved what I wanted. When it burns in the bathroom, I’m the one my friends call, I’m the one who gets to be present when it really matters. I like that.She has begun a new life, put all of the jigsaw pieces together again. Dived deep to find out who she really is. It is not at all given that you will like what you find in that process.
      - One of the things I have started doing, I have learnt from an article that was printed in this magazine (KK). «Emphasise your good qualities» was the article’s name, and it works! But it takes time, too – the first times you emphasise your good qualities you don’t really believe in it, you have to repeat what you say more often. Earlier on I spent a lot of time finding the errors, the bad qualities I had. I still have those bad qualities but now I also talk about the good parts of me.In her new life she allows the curiosity and openness to whatever is to come, to guide her.
      - The only thing I know about life now is that I don’t know where I am going. I had such an extreme need to be in control of things that now it is amazing to be able to be happy because I don’t know what happens next.