About three or four months before I made it known to my then husband that I officially wanted a separation, I knew in my heart the decision was made, but couldn’t admit it to my brain just yet.
Those were hard days. The hardest days. I texted Carmen, whom I have jokingly referred to as my “life guru” for years, looking for help.
“What did you do on those days that just felt like too much? How did you make it through?” Her answer surprised me—and I’ll admit, even disappointed me.
Now though? I give everybody the same piece of advice because—and this is not click bait, I swear—it literally changed my life. It really was, without a doubt, the single best piece of advice I got during those dark days. (This is why you should NEVER doubt your life guru! They know.) And I know you’ll roll your eyes when I tell you, but I think it was magical because it was so simple, in days when not even brushing my teeth felt simple.
Are you ready? Because I’m about to rock your world. She said “I made a playlist. And I listened to it over and over.”
Did I just disappoint you too? Even if you already have a million playlists, trust me—you need to do this. Fresh start and all that ...
I had only two criteria: the songs could not be “sad” and I needed to know most of the lyrics already.
Carmen started me out with a few suggestions from her own playlist, which she had named “Fighting for Joy” ...the list started out really small, not even 20 songs. I named it “Happy Happy Joy Joy” (part of that “fake it ‘til ya make it” attempt at positive affirmations and also a shout out to Ren and Stimpy because I’m old) and I listened to that playlist all day, every day. There was something so cathartic about belting it out (probably from the kitchen floor after sobbing my guts out) that my mood would just start to magically lift—even when I was so invested in being sad.
The kids, living in a house with two parents who were coming to terms with the end of their marriage, also found it boosted their spirits. Then the playlist became something we actually bonded over and I started adding songs that they liked and could sing along to. It wasn’t long before we were singing together all the time. Followed by kitchen dance parties and lots of laughs. Because even when you can’t fathom folding that laundry or cooking another f*%$ing meal, you can always dance—even if it’s just shuffling your feet, or imagining yourself dancing while you are curled up in a ball on your bed. I promise you'll feel better just thinking about it.
Two and half years later, and I am still curating that same playlist. It now has 200 songs and is over 12 hours long. We still listen to it most days, and because my good days now outweigh my bad, I finally allowed myself to create a new playlist with all those sad, angsty songs I really love too.