It happens. It happens to us all. One day you’re smiling and your heart’s busting out of its frame Grinch-style and you’re so happy even strangers want to punch you in face, and the next you’re crying into a Grilled Stuffed Burrito in the Taco Bell drive thru at 3 AM. You’re so sad you can’t even drink. You’re that person at the bar who nurses a beer and goes home stone cold sober. And then proceeds to get shitty drunk. With your cat. And a box of Thin Mints. You’re bumming out rain clouds.
Don’t worry. We’ve all been you.
It’s a curious thing, heartbreak. Every writer under the sun has described heartbreak in some way, shape, or form (because, believe me, it takes many), but no one really seems to know how to say what it is. Is it a shattering? A breaking apart? A fading away? Is it starvation? Suffocation? Drowning? Hell, is it all of those things? The moral of the story is this: it may be all of those things, and it may be none of those things. Not a single one of us, not even the famed writers among us, really knows.
Because it’s heartbreak.
And if heartbreak is anything, it’s a fickle bitch. The kind that creeps up on you when you’re at a stop light, being totally normal, jamming to Taylor Swift and pretending it’s something cooler. (But DAMMIT, “Shake It Off” is a good song.) Then, before you know it, heartbreak is buckled into the seat next to you, willing – daring – you to kick her out as you snot-sob all over yourself and search for a Kleenex. This is invariably the point when the person next to you in traffic looks over and you two make what will become the most uncomfortable second of eye contact in human history, and they will look away hurriedly because they will now think you’re unhinged.
Heartbreak is the kind of bitch that follows you around all day but only interrupts you while you’re eating. In public. (Because crying in public over a full plate of spaghetti doesn’t make you look like a sad sack AT ALL.) You just can’t make sense of a thing like heartbreak. It’s useless, really, so give it up now.
Maybe heartbreak made more sense in the days before Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. But not anymore, amigos. It’s nearly impossible to break up or separate or just take a couple of damn seconds way from each other to breathe in the Millennial generation without opening up one app or another to see their big ole mug staring back at you. “Oh hey, it’s you, the face of my misery,” you think. “So nice to see you were out last night playing pool while I was laying in my bed watching The Gilmore Girls and willing myself not to roll out of the window.” It’s the catch 22 of dating in the era of social media; to be a social media user is to be connected, global, and in the loop, but it’s Facebook and Instragram that constantly remind us that our exes are doing better than we are with one perfectly cropped photo after another.
This, of course, only contributes to the break neck, Indy 500-like speed in which some Millennials jump into new relationships (or relationships) in order to win the break up. And you have to win the break up, or you’re the loser. If you don’t bring home Gael from the sands of Argentina, you have to grow an itchy break-up beard and hope that sucker doesn’t come in patchy. It is imperative to ALWAYS seem as if you’re okay – better than okay, even! You’re FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC. Wanna know how everyone knows? You put it on social media. You’re winning the break up, dammit.
But it’s all this winning and losing and visibility that has made breaking up that much harder for Millennials. Constantly seeing the source of your pain is essentially an endless cycle of scab-picking. It’s worse, of course, if you’re only seeing the aforementioned ex on social media because, at this point, your imagination has free reign to turn you into a batshit crazy psycho. Suddenly, the girl he’s standing next to in that picture is his new girlfriend, and they’re probably going to get married, and what if he’s already had sex with her, THAT BASTARD?!
I’ve been there. I know.
In 2010, my last year of college, I felt the wrenches of my first real heartbreak. I bloomed a little later than most, I know, but there it was. I thought I would never, ever heal. I was certain beyond all certainty that I would die with this fiery weight in my chest. I cried all the time. I threw up on a dime. I checked social media like I got paid for it. I was your typical hot mess. But things happened. Time happened. My family got my mom through cancer, I moved away from home, both of my siblings got married. Slowly, the weight lifted and my chest opened up and I finally felt like I might be able to take one, full, deep breath again.
It’s 2014 now, and I’ve found myself in the same situation. Well, sans cancer (whoo!), and I’m actually back home. But I’m heartbroken again, and so many things are the same. I still write things down obsessively in the hopes of capturing every detail, remembering every moment. I still check social media in the hopes that he’s changed his mind and suddenly decided he’s into Facebook and Instagram – ha! I still find untold amounts of joy in wallowing in my bed and watching Friends episodes until I can laugh on cue with the laugh track. And my tendency to make mixed CDs when I’m sad hasn’t changed at all.
When I was “cleaning” out my car last week, I found the old editions. That’s right. It’s plural. One sad CD never cuts it. But there’s no shame in my game. So here it is, My Journey Through Heartbreak: The Mixed CDs, Vols. 1 & 2:
Over It!* - 2010
- “The Bitch is Back,” Elton John
- “Back in Black,” AC/DC
- “When Did You Heart Go Missing?” Rooney
- “That’s All,” Genesis**
- “Go Your Own Way,” Fleetwood Mac
- “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” Charlotte Sometimes
- “Fuck You,” CeeLo Green
- “People are Strange,” The Doors
- “Another One Bites the Dust,” Queen
- “So What,” Pink
- “Believe,” Cher
- “Stop!” Against Me!
- “You Get What You Give,” New Radicals
- “Old Ways,” Chiddy Bang
- “Photograph,” Def Leppard
- “Hound Dog,” Elvis
- “Bitch,” Meredith Brooks
- “What I Got,” Sublime
- “Here Comes the Sun,” George Harrison
- “Never Going Back Again,” Fleetwood Mac***
Love and Sex and Loneliness - 2014
- “Back on Chain Gang,” The Pretenders
- “Big Machine,” Goo Goo Dolls
- “Buttons,” The Weeks
- “Cola,” Lana del Ray
- “Dearly Departed,” Shakey Graves ft. Esmé Patterson
- “Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey Musgraves
- “Gypsy,” Fleetwood Mac
- “High,” ToveLo
- “Head On (Hold On to Your Heart),” Man Man
- “I Ain’t the Same,” The Alabama Shakes
- “I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- “Losing You,” John Butler Trio
- “Take Me to Church,” Hozier
- “Temporary Blues,” The Features
- “This Land is Your Land,” My Morning Jacket****
- “Wild Child,” Brett Dennen
- “Wonderful World,” Sam Cooke
- “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracle
SO. What can take from these playlists?
Firstly, heartbreak does slowly, ever so slowly, alter into an entity you can learn to live with. Eventually, you stop reacting with anger, and you learn to accept the lesson in the pain. It’s there, somewhere, even if you have to dig for it.
And secondly, Fleetwood Mac is timeless.
* That’s right. I named them.
** I was young and sad. Leave me alone.
*** This is back when all of my mixed CDs had story arcs.
**** So it’s not exactly a “love” song, in the traditional sense, but it’s sort of a love song to the wild spirit of America, and I'm trying that whole embrace-messy-hair (aka your messy soul) thing these days.
All original content copyright Kimberly Turner, 2014-2014.
All original content copyright Kimberly Turner, 2014-2014.