Over the years, I've talked to a lot of people of various ages about break-ups. From teenagers to middle-aged adults and a few even a little older, this is one experience everyone can agree just plain sucks. Everyone handles break-ups in their own ways, but there is one item I find that nearly everyone shares in common, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or any other factor: the break-up mix. In my day, it was a mix-tape--then later a CD--of songs and ballads that were as dark and depressing as I felt at the time. Now, I love music, so my mix was a bit eclectic by most people's standards, but I definitely had some go to's that stuck with me over the years, including Air Supply's "All Out of Love," "Can You Stand the Rain" by New Edition, and "All Apologies" by Nirvana, amongst many others. No one's mix is the same, but you get the idea. These were the songs I often played while I was alone, not ready to see people yet, in the dark, feeling horrible about losing the absolute love of my life...again. "She was the one, I'll never love anyone again," I would say, but let's just say I have more than a few mix-tapes and CD's to my credit.
I think this is the beauty of the break-up mix. We often listen to them when the break-up just occurred, at a time when we are the most vulnerable, and we are not ready to face the world yet. The mix often made me feel so much worse than I originally felt, but sometimes you just need to feel worse before you can feel better. I know, this sounds completely counterproductive, but for some reason it helps tremendously. I always felt like I needed to spend some time--or in some cases a lot of time--wallowing in my loneliness and sadness for my loss, and there is some truth to that approach. You need to take the time to mourn your loss and work through the emotions that come with it. The time alone also gave me the opportunity to reflect on what happened, look back on some of the good memories, and most importantly, gave me the chance to lick my wounds and heal ever-so-slightly before I went back out into the world. The time alone listening to the most depressing mix I could come up with gave me the time to feel bad, but also gave me the time I greatly needed to pull myself back together again and eventually move on.
I want you to know it's okay to feel bad. It's okay to feel horrible about your loss. It's even okay to keep yourself in that state of awfulness, while you work through it. But, remember that the goal is to ultimately work through it. The goal is to use the time to heal. You see, the other beautiful part of the break-up mix is being able to look back at it, share it with friends, and be able to laugh, and kid, and look fondly at the whole experience. It becomes a "remember that time," "your mix was so bad," "whatever happened to so and so" kind of memory. The whole experience is an unavoidable part of life; but, and this is big but, you will make it through, and you will grow from the experience and learn to love again.
The darkness always gives way for the light, and the light can always find its way back into your life. Though things seem bleak and dark now, a new day will come, bringing peace, and comfort, and joy with it. I swear this is true because I have lived through it more than I care to admit. Don't feel bad about feeling bad right now, but don't close the door to your life, shutting everyone and everything out. Close this chapter of the story, and begin writing the next chapter of your life. The author of it all is not done with you yet.
For those of you who have no idea what songs I'm talking about and those who want a little nostalgia:
Air Supply - All Out of Love
New Edition - Can You Stand the Rain
Nirvana - All Apologies