Hayley Williams Opens Up About Family, Divorce and Forgiving Yourself

Hayley Williams Opens Up About Family, Divorce and Forgiving Yourself

on family, divorce, and forgiving yourself, on family, divorce, and forgiving yourself, BY CARIANN BRADLEY · PHOTOS BY LINDSEY BYRNES ·  ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALLISON SABRIE · MARCH 20, 2019, THIS INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED IN JANUARY 2019 IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, BY CARIANN BRADLEY · PHOTOS BY LINDSEY BYRNES ·  ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALLISON SABRIE, THIS INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED IN JANUARY 2019 IN NASHVILLE, TN, HAYLEY WILLIAMS: I still can’t believe Pangaea is closing., CARIANN: It’s this weekend! I can’t believe it, either. The owner, Sandra, is retiring. She’s in her seventies and this store is her baby. I hope she’s going to travel!, HW: Wow. That is crazy to think about, just in terms of where you and I are at now and what life might look like. At seventy it’s like, if there are things you haven’t done yet that you want to do, I guess you just…do them. Wow. Being in her position would be like me leaving the band behind. I can’t even imagine that., C: So you think you’ll stay in Paramore for a long time?, HW: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think it will look like it did. I don’t think it could look like it has looked, you know? There were just so many yeses to everything — especially when we were kids. When we were kids it was like, we’d never even seen or heard of some of the opportunities before. Half of it was curiosity and half of it was just wide-eyed ‘let’s see what this experience feels like.’ Obviously we wanted the band to succeed. But I don’t even know if we really grasped the concept of succeeding. It was more like we just went through the motions every day, and if the shows are really magical, then that’s why you do it, you know? Now — especially after this album cycle, too — I would never do things the way we did before “After Laughter”. With “After Laughter”, we kind of said no to everything., C: You seem like a totally different band., HW: Oh, thank you. We wanted it to! Zac coming back was a big part of the aesthetic shift, but I think in terms of our business minds — you know, that’s the other thing — growing up in a band and it actually working out, it becomes less of a band and more of a brand. I was telling Zac this the other day. We were working on a collab with somebody and he was like, “Are we sure we should be doing this? Because we don’t have an album coming out.” The truth is there are two parts to the band. One part is what you wear on a t-shirt, which is basically the name. And the other part is the band, which is us! And the band is what it’s about. I told Zac that if all three of us feel good about it, we do it. In moving forward, if the three of us are happy, then we will just do whatever we want to do. If that means collaborating with each other, bringing other friends in to collaborate — there are seven band members when we tour. We’re all friends and we all make music in different parts, together. So I feel like, yes, I want to be in Paramore. I never want to have to put out a press release that says we’re over or that I quit or that we’re taking a hiatus, which is essentially a marketing ploy these days. I would rather it just be. It just is a part of each of our DNA. If we choose to move into it as a brand and put a name on these songs and make a new t-shirt, then awesome. But I’ve been in a band with them since I was 12; I don’t think the band is going anywhere. As long as we’re friends, the band just is. It’s just in us., C: That’s really freeing, though. To be able to do what you want and not have any rules., HW: It is. I used to hold it so tight. The band used to be what I thought was the only way I could do anything. For instance, when I was a kid I wanted to leave Mississippi so bad., C: What part of Mississippi?, HW: Meridian. Have you ever been through there?, C: My former partner’s family lived in Jackson, so I was there a lot for holidays. It’s a very…interesting place., HW: Right? There’s nothing taking me back there, but I just wanted to get out. Honestly, I had a few really great friends, and we were kids. There weren’t like, pressing life issues other than my parents’ divorce. And, well, things I’m just now realizing…actually did fuck me up. [Laughs], C: I feel that too., HW: Oh my gosh. To not put weight on something that deserves it can really mess with your mind. But I just really wanted to leave, and I was telling the guys before we wrapped up this last album cycle — we were having a bunch of deep conversations — and I said, “To me, without putting you guys in a position that feels impossible to live up to, you two kinda saved my life.”, Even as an eight-year-old, I felt there has to be something beyond the wall. There has to be a world past the bubble I was in. Down this road and across this bridge. I can’t survive here. By the time my parents were having their second divorces each, that’s when I moved here and met them. [I found] people that were like me and I was like them, too.,  , C: New family., HW: Yeah. It was chosen family. And this is the next part of all the therapy work I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying to keep my family together ever since then, vicariously, through this band. When the band went through really, really…I hate that I say hard times, but—, C: Holy shit. That’s amazing! [Laughs], HW: [Laughs] It’s so real to me! But when we went through these hard times around 2007 until right before “After Laughter”, I realized I can’t keep this family together either. I’m failing so badly. On top of that I was married. I didn’t really want to get married; I thought I did, but I didn’t. I thought it would help. And I couldn’t keep that together either. So I’ve had a lot of unravelling and deconstruction of my ideas of family, loyalty, commitment. That’s been my last couple of years. And there is a lot of grieving that comes with that too., What’s left is very freeing though; it’s liberating to see that you don’t actually have to grip things so tight that you kill them. Now we can move in and out of these phases with each other. Zac has HalfNoise and kills it. Half of the touring Paramore band is in HalfNoise. It’s like band incest, but like in a nice way. [Laughs], C: Like a good way. Not like southern gothic-True Detective-season-one kind of way. [Laughs], HW: Exactly. It’s cool to share all of this creativity and feel like it comes from the same universe. It’s all different and it’s all very colorful, but it’s all coming from the same soil., And I just talked about a thousand things. I’m so sorry. [Laughs], C: Oh my goodness, don’t apologize! So I know I’ve mentioned to you a little of what Midnight Woman is., HW: Yes you have! I love the website., C: Oh really? Thanks! You looked at it?, HW: Yes. It’s really cool and really surprising what people will share when they feel safe to do so. I love that., C: Thank you so much. I just…I really see so much for the brand and for the mission of it. That’s why I wanted to have a separate place where I could talk to people like you and Sharon and whoever, who’ve made places for themselves to tell their stories. Having people like you to encourage the anonymous ones, the ones behind their computer screens that are just…I have people who tell me that tell me they’ve sat down in front of the submission form on Midnight Woman and still can’t write anything. It’s anonymous, but the stakes are still really high in speaking your truth., HW: Wow. Yeah. That’s such a great aspiration and goal for your company. And also for you as a person. It will be so fulfilling to create this place and all these little branches for other people., C: Thank you so much. Really., HW: I really believe in it too. This last year I realized how much we’re talking about talking about these issues. A lot of it is kind of empty. It’s why I’ve had to be careful how I answer people who ask me questions for Paramore about these last songs. Is this the place? Or is this safe? You know? It’s hard. I don’t want to sound sexist toward men, but when we’ve done interviews with male journalists it’s been really hard. I’m very touch-and-go on certain subjects, especially things that you might find on your website or that we might talk about today. It’s sacred, you know? It’s your story. It makes sense why someone would sit in front of the computer on Midnight Woman and be like, nope. Still not ready. It’s sacred., C: I feel like [as women] we’re so used to people discrediting us. A lot of men, which is interesting, that I’ve talked to about this brand they sincerely ask if I will be doing fact-checking on the anonymous submissions I get. They say it out of curiosity; I know they don’t mean it in a harmful way, but that just goes against everything Midnight Woman stands for. That’s the entire reason this platform exists. The thought of fact-checking someone’s anonymous submission had never even crossed my mind, especially being a woman myself. We aren’t acting as any sort of authority on anyone’s story, you know? It’s why I’m careful not to rewrite anything that anyone trusts me with. Even with Sharon’s interview that I did last spring — I just transcribed it. And that will be it. I don’t feel comfortable contorting her words in any sort of story arc or hook lead. That’s always what I’ve loved so much about magazines is when you just get the cut and dry, question and answer. It keeps your voice in it. Not the writer’s., HW: Sure — I think I would be nervous to do it, too. I think there are certain moments where it can be authentic and respectful, but I totally get that. It’s why I don’t really sing other people’s songs. The “Stay The Night” song I did was half-written by, I’m almost certain, Nate from Fun. [Laughs] He put it under a fake name, but that’s who I recorded it with. He still won’t confirm it, but I know he wrote it. Thankfully, the writer left a lot of blank verses and I got to do that. I really don’t like the experience of singing other people’s words or the idea of giving my words to another person…maybe if I really loved them a lot. I like to sing my stories. I think if you thought you could write something with respect to that person or artist, then I think you’ll know. Just like “Stay The Night,” I was like wow, I’m going through something just like this. I get to put my piece in it too. That felt right in the end., This tea is really good, by the way. [Laughs], C: Thanks! It’s High Garden. My best friend won it at a secret Santa thing. I got toilet paper with Trump’s face on it, so there’s that. Happy holidays!, HW: Secret Santa is one thing you don’t want to come to my dad’s family’s house for!, C: Oh, really? That’s how it is?, HW: [Laughs] Yes. It’s rough, but it’s so funny., C: Oh, man. My family is so politically different than me I don’t even know how a presidential gag gift would go over in that atmosphere., HW: I don’t even bring it up anymore. And neither does my sister. She’s 23. They don’t want to hear what we have to say., C: How many siblings do you have?, HW: I have a 23-year-old sister and a 15-year-old sister. She’ll be 16 in March; it’s so sad to me! And then I’ve got three step-brothers from my dad’s current wife — my stepmother I guess. I don’t like saying stepmother, it feels so rude., C: It’s just because of Disney. It’s not actually rude., HW: It is because of Disney! It is just facts. Well she has three boys that are about the same age as my sisters and I. Which is crazy because my sisters and I are so spaced apart. They are too. Then my mom’s current marriage — my stepfather has two daughters. I don’t see them much, but the younger of the two I’ve gotten to see a bit lately and she is super cool., Right now I’m actually seeing you at a good time to talk about family. It was so bad until recently. It was just really confusing and I felt, at times, closer to one side of my family more than the other. Then it would reverse. I was like, why can’t this just feel like family? Growing up my Granny would tell me, “Families look different. You don’t have to live with your mom and dad at the same time to be a family.” But it wasn’t until right before 30 and this past Christmas that I spent time with both sides, and it just felt really comforting. We’re all going to get older, you know? I’m dealing with a Nana in the hospital and I’m watching my mom take care of her. I’m just thinking to myself that these siblings, these people — we’re going to be the ones taking care of each other and our parents. I’m really thankful to feel closeness with all of them now. Family is just a really poignant subject., C: I really relate. My parents have been divorced since I was five., HW: Oh, man., C: They’ve both been married again as well. And I’ve always just felt so ripped between the two of them. Even to say that, I know it would offend them, but that’s how I felt, even if it wasn’t the intention., HW: And you didn’t ask for it either, you know? Did you ever do that thing — I like to pretend I didn’t do this but I definitely did — where you were at your mom’s and you couldn’t watch something, you’d go to your dad’s and see if you could swing it?, C: Totally. It was more like I knew there were set things I could do with both. I knew the limits. My dad was definitely more lenient, but that’s a double-edged sword, you know? In therapy the last couple years, I’ve realized that I really wanted my dad to care more so I did things to try to get his attention. It felt unbalanced because it seemed like my dad didn’t care a ton and my mom cared too much. I know that wasn’t the case, but as a kid it seems so extreme. ,  , HW: Yeah, you just wanted balance. We want that so badly; but we’re also too young to know what that concept is, and if it even exists. But yeah, that’s heavy shit., C: Something that’s weird is that this past Thanksgiving — it was the best family gathering I’ve ever had., HW: Oh, good., C: I never had any home videos growing up. They got lost or destroyed during the divorce, so I had never seen anything like that of myself. My aunt who I stayed with over the holiday has home videos of her son, my cousin. They played them at Thanksgiving. That was the first time I had ever seen my younger self on video., HW: Woah., C: It was so weird! Super surreal. But what’s weirder is that in these videos I saw my parents together. I feel like I’d never seen them touch before — definitely not in person and I don’t think in any photos either. They eloped, so there are no wedding pictures from back then., HW: That must have been so weird! It’s like that moment in The Shining where the camera is zooming in and out at the same time., C: That’s exactly what it was! In the video, my dad was doing something dumb or funny — being himself [laughs] and my mom was laughing. She was laughing her ass off. They were like holding hands and smiling., HW: What did that make you feel? Like were you happy that it once existed or were you sad? It was probably everything but I’m just so curious., C: I was really happy. I was happy that I got to see it, but it also made me really proud of myself. I realized that for as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a typical example of that. What that’s supposed to look like. Sure, I’ve had problems and I’m not in a relationship now, but I know myself enough to know what I deserve, which is just crazy to me., HW: Yeah, you didn’t have it modeled for you outright, day in, and day out. Even in terms of siblings, a lot of my friends who have sisters, they grew up every day fighting over the bathroom or whatever. Just the silly, idiosyncratic things about living with other people you love — things that you get used to, move around, or lean into closer — I never had that with my sisters. Even though it wasn’t my doing, I still regret that a lot. It’s no different with a mom and a dad who have a kid but the kid doesn’t live with both of them at the same time. You don’t know what it’s like for your dad to get you ready for school. That’s how it was for me anyway. You don’t have that normal pattern that some kids do. I know there are a lot of kids with divorced parents but in my community there were only a couple kids dealing with the single parent thing, and I was always so envious of the kids who didn’t have to deal with that., C: What was it like for you going through your own divorce?, HW: My own…it was sort of the beginning of me having to reckon with my parents’ divorce too, and I didn’t know that until recently. My divorce felt like a train crash that I knew the whole time was coming — even from the moment we started dating. I tried my best to pad it, wear all the right gear, and protect myself — and maybe even potentially, at the last second, derail the situation to where things might work out in a way I couldn’t foresee., When it really hit, I felt like such a failure. I felt embarrassed because I knew that I shouldn’t have gone through with the marriage. And we had already dealt with a lot of the heaviest parts of being a couple and why things were bad. I just hurt. I had no trust left whatsoever. I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but I did anyway; that’s why I felt like I had to stay. The reason I ended up deciding to leave is, I had started to have a lot of suicidal thoughts. I was thinking about death all the time; I was thinking, “What is the point of anything ever? Why is this supposed to be the best time of my life? This is terrible.” I cared about my husband…like a brother. That’s the best way that I know to describe it. I knew that wasn’t right. Doing it and actually separating and getting a divorce…I’ll never forget the moment that I walked into my house with a box that said “fragile” on it, with, like, a plant in it [laughs] and maybe three other things., I mean, I left everything. I was ashamed of myself and I was also mad. But the anger had already melted into depression because I didn’t let it come out. I still remember that moment, looking at the door and looking at my box of things and thinking, “This is what I deserve. I deserve an empty, cold house that is infested with bats—”, C: WHAT?, , HW: [Laughs] The guys called it ‘The Bat Cave’. They called me batwoman. It was rough. And then I learned about a whole other species, which I had never heard of, called bat mites. They look like ticks. So I woke up with what I thought was a tick on me, on my covers, like fuck. [Laughing] This is so dark. I was essentially just living in an empty house with a couple suitcases full of clothes a just a bunch of ticks. And bats., C: Just a bunch of animals that you didn’t ask for. Dear god., HW: This was all right around the album release too — the “Hard Times” video, the “Told You So” video, going to Kimmel. I was flying back and forth to this empty house, yet I was like on TV. I mean thank god the songs were transparent about the stuff I was feeling, but I don’t know. I was living two very different realities. [Laughs], C: That is disturbing. You just have to laugh at that because it’s so weird. Bats? Fuck., HW: The band stuff was going great though, and I was having such a great time re-introducing myself to my friend group because — I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a relationship like this — but for me and mine I removed myself from whatever knew me best. It was tense and it also felt like I couldn’t be congruent in both atmospheres. Home with this person, out with these people…that should have been another sign for me early on., But yeah, things were going good. And I could see that there was a healthy part of me that’s being…there’s a switch and something’s happening. But there was still a lot of life telling me I should be ashamed of myself too. I was like, “Is this god? Is this a god thing? I don’t know what’s happening.” And it turns out, what I think of it now is… if you would have asked me a year ago, I would have said, “Every blessing comes with a cost.” I really believed that no good thing could happen without something awful. That would be the price you pay. And I’ve really been working on that, because I know it’s such a terrible way to live. Whether, at times, it feels true or not, it’s just a terrible philosophy., Now I would look at it and say, today, the person I am at 30, I feel healthy. I don’t necessarily have all the answers and I don’t have everything I’ve ever wanted in my whole life — even though the band is doing great and whatnot. I feel so much gratitude everyday which is a very new thing. It’s a very different kind of thankfulness than I’ve felt in the past, and I think it’s taken a lot of gardening in my heart, a lot of digging up so much soil and finding old roots that were in the way of other things blooming., I went to see what some people would think of as a “coo-coo therapist,” like a craniosacral masseuse, but I fucking love her. She always just hits the nail on the head. During a session, she was doing body work on me and they say that our memories are stored in the nerves and tissues — not so much the head. It’s fascinating. So a lot of times when we do body work, we access emotions and memories we’ve tucked away or our body has done for us., I was on the table and I had a lot of thoughts about my wedding. I remembered some stuff that I just hadn’t remembered before — just how uncomfortable I felt in that dress and things that I so quickly turned off because I wanted it so badly to work out. And then later in the session I had this vision of all of these flowers growing out of me. My cynical side immediately took it and was like, “Well, the only way that happens is if you’re dead, you’re in the ground, and somebody put some pretty flowers there.” But then this new side that I’d never had access to, swiftly flew in and batted that away and said, “No. That’s you. This is now. This is what’s happening right now and this is what you’ve been digging around in the dirt for during the last year. This beauty and femininity and new strength is going to come out of you.” And I chose to hold onto it., I swear to god I’m there with my eyes closed and we’re at the end of the session. I haven’t spoken a word of any of this to her. She goes, “Alright, we’re done with the session.” You know, just really calm whispering. She said, “Thank you so much for seeing me today. You’re surrounded by flowers.” I was like, “What the fuck!!?”. I still didn’t say anything, and she left the room. I took the cover off my eyes and she had put rose petals all over me, like all around. They smelled amazing. I don’t even know if that was some subconscious thing I took in, and I don’t really care, because that vision has been so vivid to me over the last year or so. I’ve picked up a lot of flowers for my house since then. I just keep them around me all the time to remind me that I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness — you know, that power of being self-sufficient, but being soft too, and open., HW: [Laughs] The guys called it ‘The Bat Cave’. They called me batwoman. It was rough. And then I learned about a whole other species, which I had never heard of, called bat mites. They look like ticks. So I woke up with what I thought was a tick on me, on my covers, like fuck. [Laughing] This is so dark. I was essentially just living in an empty house with a couple suitcases full of clothes a just a bunch of ticks. And bats., C: Just a bunch of animals that you didn’t ask for. Dear god., HW: This was all right around the album release too — the “Hard Times” video, the “Told You So” video, going to Kimmel. I was flying back and forth to this empty house, yet I was like on TV. I mean thank god the songs were transparent about the stuff I was feeling, but I don’t know. I was living two very different realities. [Laughs], C: That is disturbing. You just have to laugh at that because it’s so weird. Bats? Fuck., HW: The band stuff was going great though, and I was having such a great time re-introducing myself to my friend group because — I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a relationship like this — but for me and mine I removed myself from whatever knew me best. It was tense and it also felt like I couldn’t be congruent in both atmospheres. Home with this person, out with these people…that should have been another sign for me early on., But yeah, things were going good. And I could see that there was a healthy part of me that’s being…there’s a switch and something’s happening. But there was still a lot of life telling me I should be ashamed of myself too. I was like, “Is this god? Is this a god thing? I don’t know what’s happening.” And it turns out, what I think of it now is… if you would have asked me a year ago, I would have said, “Every blessing comes with a cost.” I really believed that no good thing could happen without something awful. That would be the price you pay. And I’ve really been working on that, because I know it’s such a terrible way to live. Whether, at times, it feels true or not, it’s just a terrible philosophy., Now I would look at it and say, today, the person I am at 30, I feel healthy. I don’t necessarily have all the answers and I don’t have everything I’ve ever wanted in my whole life — even though the band is doing great and whatnot. I feel so much gratitude everyday which is a very new thing. It’s a very different kind of thankfulness than I’ve felt in the past, and I think it’s taken a lot of gardening in my heart, a lot of digging up so much soil and finding old roots that were in the way of other things blooming., I went to see what some people would think of as a “coo-coo therapist,” like a craniosacral masseuse, but I fucking love her. She always just hits the nail on the head. During a session, she was doing body work on me and they say that our memories are stored in the nerves and tissues — not so much the head. It’s fascinating. So a lot of times when we do body work, we access emotions and memories we’ve tucked away or our body has done for us., I was on the table and I had a lot of thoughts about my wedding. I remembered some stuff that I just hadn’t remembered before — just how uncomfortable I felt in that dress and things that I so quickly turned off because I wanted it so badly to work out. And then later in the session I had this vision of all of these flowers growing out of me. My cynical side immediately took it and was like, “Well, the only way that happens is if you’re dead, you’re in the ground, and somebody put some pretty flowers there.” But then this new side that I’d never had access to, swiftly flew in and batted that away and said, “No. That’s you. This is now. This is what’s happening right now and this is what you’ve been digging around in the dirt for during the last year. This beauty and femininity and new strength is going to come out of you.” And I chose to hold onto it., I swear to god I’m there with my eyes closed and we’re at the end of the session. I haven’t spoken a word of any of this to her. She goes, “Alright, we’re done with the session.” You know, just really calm whispering. She said, “Thank you so much for seeing me today. You’re surrounded by flowers.” I was like, “What the fuck!!?”. I still didn’t say anything, and she left the room. I took the cover off my eyes and she had put rose petals all over me, like all around. They smelled amazing. I don’t even know if that was some subconscious thing I took in, and I don’t really care, because that vision has been so vivid to me over the last year or so. I’ve picked up a lot of flowers for my house since then. I just keep them around me all the time to remind me that I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness — you know, that power of being self-sufficient, but being soft too, and open., “I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness — you know, that power of being self-sufficient, but being soft too, and open.”, “I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness — you know, that power of being self-sufficient, but being soft too, and open.”, “I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness — you know, that power of being self-sufficient, but being soft too, and open.”, “I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness — you know, that power of being self-sufficient, but being soft too, and open.”, C: That is beautiful., HW: It was a wild year. It was, but I’m thankful for it. I don’t wake up wanting to die anymore. I also take medicine now, and that’s another thing that I’ve not talked to many people about. I started that and it’s helped., C: I take medication too. I started about two years ago I think. Even the act of getting help and getting medication — in my opinion, that heals you, too. That’s action., HW: Yes! And we walk around so disconnected from our bodies. Sometimes they’re trying to tell us something and we don’t even notice. My skin would break out like crazy when I was in a bad emotional place., I’m interested to know if you had signs of any sort of — I won’t call it mental illness even, but unrest — during the time after your parents’ divorce. Do you look back at it now and realize anything like that?, C: Yeah I understand what you’re saying. Yes. I think I’m still unpacking that stuff. Looking back I feel like I — me and my dad had some issues when I was in high school and I realize now some of what led to the clash. When you’re that age, you’re shopping for your personality, you know? Just to see who you want to be. The more that I tried to put on traits and things that I thought Cariann was or who I wanted her to be, that’s when me and my parents started having growing pains. Looking back and realizing that I’m not an extension of my parents, and it’s totally of my own volition who I am and who I want to be; it’s not my fault if that looks different than what they might have had in mind for me. In college therapy, my therapist said to me that it’s okay to grieve a certain idea of who you wanted yourself to be or your parents to be. It’s okay to grieve having parents that are divorced because you’ll never get to sit at a dinner table with both of them. She kind of reminded me that my parents aren’t an extension of who I want them to be either. I don’t know; it’s just a lot. No one is perfect., HW: That’s so true, man. I have friends that don’t want to have kids because they don’t want to fuck something up. Or this world is so dark they don’t want to bring something into that. I don’t know; I think I would want to have kids. I feel that in a more genuine way, now that I just take care of myself. It must be hard. I have total compassion and empathy for my parents, you know?, C: Yeah, I agree. I have a lot of respect., HW: But some of that kept me from being angry or upset and actually working through stuff. It kept me from having feelings about it. It is important, like you said, to realize at some point that I can’t project what I want them to be onto them. They have some other crazy story, probably still some things we will never know. I just think that you have to figure out, when grieving that, how to hold space for if you need to be angry, sad, and then also find whatever you need to keep that connection with them too. You know?, C: Yeah., HW: For some people, I realize that would be really unhealthy for them and that’s not an option, and that’s valid., C: I actually just finished this book yesterday called “Faithful” by Alice Hoffman. Do you know her? She wrote “Practical Magic” too., HW: Oh, yeah! I never knew the author’s name., C: She’s amazing. I had never read anything else of hers aside from “Practical Magic.” I haven’t devoured a piece of fiction like that in a long time — I got super burned out in school — but it’s so good. A lot of the underlying themes are regret, self-redemption, and forgiving yourself., HW: I’ve been so deep into self-help for the last…since everything. Being into those types of things, I’m missing something like this. A novel, you know? Something to put my mind at rest., C: Take that one! Read it. I don’t know if you’ll get anything out of it because I think it just hit me when I needed to hear it, but yeah., HW: Thank you! When I first got my divorce, a friend recommended “Women Who Run With Wolves” to me. Have you heard of it?, C: No I haven’t., HW: I’ll trade you. It really helped me. It’s like a sneaky self-help. It’s folklore and ancient fables. Stories that women would tell each other throughout history. The first story is called “Bluebeard” and it helped me so much. It helped me realize why I stayed in a relationship that was so unhealthy for me, and when I realized it, I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t turn back. I had to leave., C: Have you ever read “Tiny Beautiful Things”?, HW: No I haven’t. You’re like the second person that’s asked me that lately. I need to write it down., C: It’s incredible. It’s Cheryl Strayed’s anonymous advice column compiled into a book. Yeah you can take my copy of this too., HW: Oh my goodness, thank you so much. I’m so excited! I’m also buying this tea, probably today. [Reading the book cover] “Let yourself be gutted.” Wow. I love that. This is how I felt for so long., C: I think about one entry in particular so much. It’s from the entry “Tiny Beautiful Things,” which is the title of the book. The anonymous person writing to her says:, “Dear Sugar, I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early forties. My question for you is short and sweet. What would you tell your twenty-something self if you could talk to her now?”, Part of the advice that Cheryl gives here is fucking amazing. She writes:, “One hot afternoon in an era where you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up in heroine, you will be riding the bus and thinking about what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus, holding two strings of two purple balloons. She offers you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you think you no longer have the right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.”, HW: Oh my god. That’s insane. This book is going to wreck my life., C: That was actually one of the questions I was going to ask you today — kind of in that realm, anyway. What would you say to someone who is nervous to share their story? What would you say to the apprehensive Midnight Woman contributor?, HW: I mean…the only way that we move from one point in life to another is by action. I think action can be physical movement or can be recurring thoughts, patterns, dreams. My weapon of choice is always words. It’s what has simultaneously shielded me and also whacked down weeds for me as I’ve tried to get through life. If you can share your story just enough to find that spark of action where you’re telling someone what you’ve gone through, or you’re looking at your words in front of you — when you can look at them and know that they’re going to meet someone on the other side — if you want to get anywhere past it, the only thing to do is move. Words might look small and black and white on a page but, to me, that’s one of the biggest things you can do. Some of the most powerful movements in my life have just been sentences, sometimes not even to melody. Even though I’m in a band and all this stuff with Paramore, sometimes it’s not the stuff I write in songs, it’s what I’m telling a friend late at night or writing in a journal that no one will ever see. Even though sometimes I’m like, “I’m going to die one day and someone might find this shit; it better be good.” [Laughs], C: Yes! Exactly., HW: But I think movement and connection are how we survive. I think if you want to live through something, you have to move through it, speak through it, connect through it. It’s worth it, you know? I was really afraid — I kept everyone from talking about my divorce. And I would talk around depression until I was blue in the face. But in the last six months, since I’ve really owned this stuff…and I mean, we talk about a lot on the album, but again, the words that are more personal. The things that have come out since we’ve been on the road — those are the things that have lifted me up and carried me into this next space. The connections I’ve made and the friendships I’ve made, with other women especially, in this time period has been so beautiful for me. My whole life I’ve just been surrounded by guys, and they’re wonderful people, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I would be alive if I hadn’t started talking and writing things down — expressing myself., We use it for my hair dye company; “Expression is survival” is on our t-shirts. It’s not just like a catchy thing that I say; it has kept me alive. The motive is key. Is the desire to live bigger than the fear? For me, it wasn’t for a long time. Somehow I pushed through that. I think writing was the biggest part of all of it., I’m excited for what you’re doing, and for people getting over that fear, because I think they will discover that whatever is underneath that fear is a desire to move and live., C: Yeah, and connect with other people., HW: I don’t really get the point of being on the Earth if I’m not connecting with people. The band didn’t do a lot of interviews recently. I’m doing this today, and this isn’t work for me, this isn’t like, “Oh, I have an album and I can’t wait for you to plug that at the end of this.” You know? I did a zine too that’s a female-run thing from the UK. Those are the coolest things for me, as a person, who also gets to do this and be an artist. I’m so thankful that I get to meet people and talk. Like me and you have a lot of things in common, and I was just buying coffee from you months ago. It’s crazy! I’m excited for what you’re doing because I think you’re going to show a lot of people their desire to be known and to know other people. That’s so cool. It’s the only point [of life]! I don’t get any other point. You know?, C: Yeah. I so agree. Thank you. That means so much to me., HW: Also I am so sorry if you have to transcribe this. I am so long-winded., C: Don’t even worry about it. I want Midnight Woman to be my end game. This is what I want my life to be. Just to have people like you and Sharon who have your own followings — the fact that you believe in what I’m doing… it makes me think that I actually can do it., HW: Oh, of course you can do it., C: It’s just been so encouraging. Thank you, I mean it., HW: Yeah, of course. I love the name by the way., C: Thanks so much., HW: It’s really beautiful., C: Thank you so much for talking to me!, HW: Of course. This was so nice. What a cozy afternoon to be inside when the weather is shit. We can be in here talking about real stuff., THANK YOU, HAYLEY XO. THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY. , ALL PHOTOS FEATURED IN THIS PIECE WERE TAKEN BY LINDSEY BYRNES., THANK YOU, HAYLEY XO. THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY. , ALL PHOTOS FEATURED IN THIS PIECE WERE TAKEN BY LINDSEY BYRNES., THANK YOU, HAYLEY XO. THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY. ALL PHOTOS FEATURED IN THIS PIECE WERE TAKEN BY LINDSEY BYRNES., Follow us on Instagram, Copyright Midnight Woman Inc. 2019, cover photos: Sharon: Cariann Bradley. Hayley: Lindsey Byrnes., For general inquiries, please contact us at hello@midnight-woman.com,  For advertising opportunities, please write to us at goldie@midnight-woman.com, Have you been to Midnight Woman? That’s our sister. Submit anonymously here., For general inquiries, please contact us at hello@midnight-woman.com,  , For advertising opportunities, please write to us at goldie@midnight-woman.com,  , Have you been to Midnight Woman? That’s our sister., Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences. , We aim to redefine the way we talk about what’s happened to us, no matter the subject. L’Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless., Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences. , We aim to redefine the way we talk about what’s happened to us, no matter the subject. L’Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.