This post has been a long time coming. Let’s face it. Breakups are hard. Very hard. Some of the hardest times in my life have come when I’ve had to let someone I’ve loved go. And to face the fact that its better for both of us to go our own ways.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience the highs of being in love; from those first moments of locking eyes with that special someone, to that memorable first date and if your lucky enough to walk down the aisle, you would know that although the breakup was painful (like a sledgehammer knocking your heart into a bottomless pit for some of us), you probably would do it all over again in a heartbeat for the feeling of being alive and loved is the greatest feeling of all!
From the butterflies which bubble up to the goosebumps which sends shiver up and down
your spine. Being in love is worth all the pleasure and the pain that it brings – where
all logic and reason goes out of season and where two hearts dance in the fragility,
frailty and fire that burns between them.
“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.” — Paulo Coelho
From my own relationship experience, the reasons have been different and varied of what
has brought a relationship undone. Fear of commitment, family incompatibilities, long
distance, focusing on careers, turning from a carefree lover to a mundane routine spouse,
differing values, changing beliefs and most recently, to simply have grown apart. Reading
this and looking back i’m sure you can probably see a million reasons why you’ve had
breakups too. Clients and friends that I’ve coached have said the following:
“He stopped taking care of himself”
“She payed more attention to the kids and forgot about me”
“We became roommates instead of lovers”
“He was too young and immature” and “She was too old and wanted to move to fast”
“He was emotionally unavailable”
“She doesn’t know what she wants”
“He says he’s not ready for a relationship”
“She’s still in love with her ex”
“Things have become boring, monotonous, its no longer fun!”
“We want different things…he was different when we first got together”
… the list could go on and on!
What’s become clear to me is that the only thing that keeps a relationship together and
the desire to keep it alive is the commitment to do so. And sometimes, one or both
parties make a judgement call as whether it’s worth continuing that commitment or not.
This article explores what happens when a relationship breaks up.
There are patterns in everything in life. There was a pattern of what gets you attracted and patterns to what doesn’t. And there definitely is a pattern when it comes to breaking up in regards to the stages and emotions one feels.
Below is an adapted pattern that I’ve seen in myself, those I’ve coached and friends that I have supported. After reading this piece – i’d love to hear how much of this
rings true for you.
Its an adapted pattern popularized by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and is known as the Kubler-Ross model or the five stages of grief. I wish I learned about this
model sooner… because if I had then I would :
1. Know that the phase doesn’t last forever and its just a phase
2. Have comfort knowing that others have experienced it too
3. Know that you can trust in the process and say, “This too shall pass”.
At this point I want to shout out to my R&B, and reggae lovers. I know you guys feel me when I say that no matter where in life you are there is a reggae or R&B track that touches your soul and speaks a language that goes beyond words. This has held true for me in life and even more so when it comes to breakups.
I think I saw it on Facebook somewhere that “Music is what feelings sound like”. Amen.
Music helps me recognise, amplify, empathise, and pacify, the feelings that burn inside of me. Music is the doctor, the mother that wipes those tears, the father that protects from pain, the understanding friend when nobody understands, the healer… the medicine.
The tracks listed here are ones that have been my medicine. Its not exhaustive. They are just ones that have comforted me during the storms. I’d love to know if it resonates with you and it would be great if you could leave a comment and share your own tracks.
Know also that the model doesn’t work linearly. You can jump back and forth between stages. Some stages are long. Others short. The stages are a collation of common experiences that can occur in any order at all. So let’s jump in:
The first reaction is denial. You can’t believe its happening. You want to cling to a
false reality. Although logically you know something big has occurred in your relationship. Your mind, body and spirit is in shock and not ready to face the situation that you are now being called to deal with. And this can happen whether 1) you did the breaking up b) your partner broke up with you c) if it was mutual.
For me this was most apparent and painful when my ex-wife told me that she wanted a divorce, and our 8 year relationship was over. Boom! I was floored. I didn’t see it coming. And after months of what was a tough year for me this was the nail in the coffin. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare that seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course there were warning signs – i just couldn’t see them at the time. I was in Denial! It was the biggest thing that i’ve ever had to deal with. And I had no idea how to deal, no tools, no internal coping mechanism or strategy.
Denial is where you defend the actions of your partner, no matter what friends of family
say. You make excuses. Basically cannot face the truth that some serious shizzle is going
down and this is more than just another relationship fight or a rough patch. You think
you can fix it – and you don’t want to see the truth even when it is displayed right in
front of your eyes.
Dry Cry – Sizzla – Sizzla is one of my fav artists. The lyrics and voice show the helplessness of the situation, yet the riddim shouts it will get better. Roots.
The Saddest Day – Wayne Wonder – Classic
Where Did Our Love Go – Supremes – Before my time. But a Motown classic.
Heard it thorugh the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye – Classic Marvin Gaye
What Am I Longing For – Jah Cure – This one definitely hits home. Feel passion.
I Gotta Find Peace – Lauryn Hill – Strong, feminine, vulnerability, authentic and real.
This is the mood swing period. You get frustrated and pissed off at your ex and those
close to you. You take your your frustration and question the world, and wonder why and how this could be happening to an innocent soul like yourself, of course, your not innocent and you played your part and must eventually take some responsibility for the relationship demise. You think about the situation night and day. Irrational thought makes it difficult to know whether to stay or let go. That constant back and forth is enough to send you crazy. Sitting on the fence is a mofo. So try and channel that energy into something useful like going to the gym and lifting something heavy!
So Sick – Ne-Yo – Memories that keep popping up. Wishing you could turn off the feelings like a radio!
Gun Session Survivor – When you need to go gangster. I did so many chin ups to this song 🙂
Too Experienced – Barrington Levy – Classic Roots. One of his greatest tunes.
Solid as a Rock – Sizzla – Standing strong!
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor – Yes you will !
Being a solution oriented person (and a sales person), this stage has always been
difficult for me in the past. Because i’m always thinking its salvageable, fixable. I hate losing and to say that I’ve lost a lover, and friend and to to admit defeat. So in the past i’ve tended to bargain. I wondered where I went wrong and how i’d fix it. Maybe I didn’t buy enough gifts, take enough holidays, cook dinner or help with the groceries. You also try to “fix” your partner here. You use phrases like, “I know we can work this out”, “I can be a better person”.
Unbreak My Heart – Toni Braxton – Love me some Toni. Ol Skool favour.
Everybody Knows – John Legend – I love the lyrics.
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg The Temptations – A motown classic. 50 years old and still rings true.
Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill – played this for few breakups. Definitely a classic.
Depression is the worst phase I feel. The energy just sits with you. No anger. No feeling. Just dead. Everywhere you go there is a tune that reminds you of her, a restaurant you used to go together, a picture that brings 1000 feelings rushings back.
And the longer the relationship that you had. The more the reminders, memories and the intensity of those feelings. Yes! It sucks! When I was going through this I just sat with my dog, Jackson on the couch and watched TV for hours on end (which i never do) or sometimes just sat there sleeping. Not wanting to move or get up. I went to work like a zombie. I didn’t want to go out and life became empty and meaningless.
Its at this point we face the reality that it really is …OVER. Its your chance to embrace the void that you have been resisting. To realise that by fighting you only prolong the inevitable. Better to embrace the void. Make it your friend. Realise that there is nothing you can do about it. And the only way forward is to stop avoiding and move right through it. One step at a time.
How do you get rid of a shadow ? Shine the light on it. So shine that light!
– Sometimes I Cry – Eric Benet – This one really hit home. Even in the aftermath of a breakup and you’ve moved on. Benet tells how you can go into relapse. I felt this one.
– Nobody Knows It But Me – Tony Rich Project – when your friends and fam can’t understand you and you got to push through and its all up to you
– 6 Months, 8 Days, 12 Hours – Brian McKnight – #feels #huggingmypillow
– Aint No Sunshine – Bill Withers – Classic. Nuff said.
– When a Womans Fed Up – R Kelly – #
– One Last Cry -Brian McKnight – I remember listening to this and finally being able to just let it go. Time to move on.
At this stage you have dealt with the most difficult parts. You finally come to terms with letting him/her go. You are ready to move on. You may or may not have had closure. If you had closure great. If you haven’t had the closure you need then to give yourself closure. The wound has healed however its still tender and your working out the best way forward and your finding your mojo again. In this stage, your are typically more stable with your emotions. You can appreciate the situation for what it is.
You have moved past the anger, hurt and pain and are coming around to understand that you have to let him or her go. There is nothing left to say or do but to get on with it. You cannot rush the process, in the same breadth know that you cannot play the victim for too long. You can only work through it.
Losing someone we love is one of the most difficult processes to endure. There is no way to know for sure when you will completely recover, but we do have to move on. Just know that eventually, you will reach the stage of acceptance.
During this stage, I start to notice other women. I start getting my training wheels on my game and have the courage to ask girls out again. To notice that lingering stare, to follow the subtle flirtation. The desire to get to know a woman that draws my attention, captures my curiosity and wanting to explore the possibility of what the future (if any) may hold. Yes! Its a happy place and its the genesis of new beginnings and endless possibilities.
I Love Your Smile – Shanice – This one always brings a smile to my face. The innocence of new love. A smile ushering in new love when you want to let her notice that you’ve noticed her too. #cute
Nice and Slow – Usher – because I was playing this when I was still in high school and still gets me wanting to “take it nice and slow”.
Candy Rain – Soul For Real – ol skool 🙂
Every Little Thing – Soul for Real – ol skool.
My Girl – Temptations – Really old skool classic.
Give me a Try – Sizzla ft Rihanna – when you want a girl to give you a try but the timing just ain’t right, she’s not feeling you or your game was not on point … da brush off ! Sizzla and Rihanna ride on this roots riddim and I’ve had it on repeat whenever i’ve got the brush off. I love Rihanna on this. I wish she did more like this. The original is from Sizzla here.
Lento – Daniel Santacruz – I remember walking into a Kizomba night with a friend of mine. This song and the dance…omg. Check the video. Just knowing that you can learn this while getting over you ex should have you taking dance classes.
Love – Musiq Soulchild – Because everyone should give love a chance. Love is always there, we just build the walls to keep it out. Believe again!
Just Friends – Musiq Soulchild – When your game needs some help. Baby steps. Lets start as friends 😉 Seriously, though this song is all about the journey of love with no destination. Finding a girl friend who may become a girlfriend… and to love every moment of it.
Romantic – Korede Bello – I actually started listening to Korede Bello because a girl I met on Tinder opened me up to African music again. And yes, you can learn new things and meet cool people on Tinder! This one is a newbie to me and definitely had me feeling that “romantic” feeling again. I still don’t know if it was the song or the girl. The song reminds me of new love, just starting out.
I hope you enjoyed the musical journey and the tastes that tickle my fancy. I’d love to know your thoughts and comments and especially the songs that have got you through hard times. The ones that you had playing on repeat!
If I could leave you with one piece of advice in case you think you won’t get out of this rough patch or if your cautious about letting go to love again… remember this.
Your heart is a canvas and it’s going to take both light and dark colours to paint a masterpiece that you can look back and see each brushstroke of emotion, of both pleasure and pain. You wouldn’t want to to have a blank canvas, or even an unfinished piece… so get to painting. You haven’t a second to lose.