When I was a kid I’d imagine a soundtrack to my life, just like the people in the movies. When Audrey Hepburn goes traipsing through the streets of New York, Henry Mancini‘s haunting melody, Moon River, follows her all the way to Tiffany’s. It’s the same for John Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, only this time it’s Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’.
So why not a soundtrack for me as I jauntily made my way through the streets of Flushing, New York? No such luck. Henry Mancini wouldn’t give me the time of day. Ditto for Harry Nilsson. And forget John Williams. My Star Wars theme song just wasn’t in the cards.
But then something happened when my divorce was larger than life—consuming every waking moment—and haunting my dead-of-night dreams. Hands down, this was one of the most agonizing, unforgiving chapters of my life.
And so I invented my own soundtrack. One created out of necessity, to help me cope and find sanity—and a bit of comfort, too. There are many stages in divorce and, lucky me, I didn’t miss a single one. So herewith are the songs that accompanied me during each of these phases:
Phase One: Shock, Denial – Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You
Whitney Houston’s songs in The Bodyguard soundtrack got me through this stage. I was still having strong feelings for my ex, despite his shameless ways. I was still in denial that my marriage was over and my damn heart wasn’t ready to believe the worst, let alone move on. Perhaps, I needed Cher to yell at me to “SNAP OUT OF IT!” Sans that, Whitney voiced my emotions best.
Phase Two: Mourning – Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again
This was the period when Carly Simon’s songs from the film, Heartburn, became my constant companion. In Heartburn, Meryl’s character is pregnant and married to Jack Nicholson, a louse who cheats on her. Boy, could I relate! I wasn’t pregnant but, at the time, my youngest was still in diapers. A lot of the songs on this album are empowering, including my favorite, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is a twist on the childhood ditty. Coming Around Again gave me the kind of hope that springs eternal, representing my “I’m-a-survivor-like-Meryl-Street-in-Heartburn” period. It also showed me that the only solution to my divorce hell was the one that involved leaving my marriage behind, and moving on.
Phase Three: Rebuilding and S-l-o-w-l-y Moving On – Sting’s album, Ten Summoner’s Tales.
Can you believe I never listened to Sting before my divorce? Sure, I was familiar with The Police, but Sting was already on his own and my marriage was unraveling around the time that this album came out. These songs put me in a different state of mind, making me feel like I was worth something. Sting’s music helped me rebuild my shattered self-esteem. Songs like, She’s Too Good for Me and Fields of Gold.
Phase Four: On My Own – U-2’s Joshua Tree
Pre-divorce, the only Bono I knew of was Sonny. But Bono of U-2 fame became my latest obsession after hearing a duet he sang with Frank Sinatra on, I’ve Got You Under My Skin. And boy, did Bono get under my skin, with his ultra sexy, bedroom voice. I couldn’t get enough of this guy and then my friend Hellen, told me about U-2 and gave me the Joshua Tree CD. One play and I was smitten. Three songs made all the difference for me: Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You.
Phase Five: The Single Life—or to Hell with Being Married! – Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II
Some may find this hard to believe, but during this time, I became a Meat Loaf junkie. Bat Out of Hell became my anthem. Thanks to a gym I belonged to, where they’d play Meat Loaf constantly during some intense step classes, I became a dancing queen, finding new joy in my singleton life. Best songs on this album include: I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire, and Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere).
The songs I chose to listen to became a part of my therapy and ultimately contributed to my healing. So for all of you currently going through your divorces, or just thinking about it, now you have my “Divorce is Hell” playlist to add to your iTunes library. Consider it my gift to you. Trust me, you’ll feel better. And, you’ll also owe me one. So, you’re welcome.