I’ve always had a secret dream to be the person who picks music for television or movies. That person who finds obscure covers or indie bands whose songs will perfectly compliment the rise and falls of this or that character’s story line. The perfect piano riff into the scratchy voice that will accompany the main character’s “aha moment.” The fast violin line that will express the hurry of a man running to catch up to the love he’s about to lose. I’m a sucker for that perfect song that accompanies a perfect cinematic moment.
But because I do not get paid to discover music or orchestrate emotional moments in the lives of fictional characters – I am stuck doing it for myself and my own life. I have (in my humble opinion) mastered the art of a perfect mix. What started off as mix tapes and transitioned into mixed CDS and has now become playlists – I have spent an insane amount of time creating mixes to match a season of life.
One genre of mix that I have become particularly good at has been the Relationship Mix. A list of songs that sums up my relationships, more specifically, the romantic ones. From first meeting to the bitter end, I end up stumbling upon the perfect song to describe each stage of each relationship I’ve ever been in.
I stock pile these mixes with descriptive names- The Demise of Alexander, The Patrick That Got Away, The Whatever Happened with Bill, and the “Darn” You Scuba Steve Mix. (Names obviously changed because, well, this is the internet.)
Everyone once in a while, a song will play through the speakers and I am almost immediately transported back to that relationship. I feel the feelings I had in that moment. I see his face and I wonder if I made the right choices. When I’m feeling extra vulnerable, I think about why it went the way it did. Because I’m human – I’m a single female that sometimes gets lonely and wishes that I had someone – anyone – beside me at this event or that person’s birthday party. I’m a normal thirty year old woman who sometimes hates being the third (or fifth) wheel.
It’s in those moments when remembering the entirety of the mix is helpful. Because I can mentally skip to the end of the playlist. I can remind myself that there was a reason that it ended. There was an incompatibility that existed. The ever clear reminder that he wasn’t ready, or I wasn’t ready.
It’s almost like therapy for me, mentally cataloging the ebbs and flows of these relationships. Because while I was still in the relationship or shortly afterwards, I’ve done the work of asking hard questions, of digging into what really happened. I’ve created this mix in my mind that sums up my personal experiences so that later on, when I’m struggling, I can look back and remember. I can learn from my mistakes and I can move forward instead of dwelling on the past.
So here are a few tips to help you make you’re own lists:
Don’t force it: keep your ears open
Don’t go searching for the music to accompany your story. Simply keep your ears open and your feelings honest. When you hear a song that resonates – take note. It’s the small subtle tug on your heart strings. Especially when you least expect it and suddenly you are feeling all the feels.
Take artistic freedom
Sometimes you are the one singing but sometimes you are the one being sung to. Once I was jamming to a Taylor Swift hit when I suddenly realized that no matter how badly I wanted to identify with the scorned Taylor, if I was being honest, I was the one who needed to be reminded it was time to let it go. The songs don’t have to fit completely in they way they were intended, it’s okay to interpret a little for yourself.
An honest mix is a subjective mix
Once you finish your mix, don’t forget it’s only one side of the story. Don’t try to share it – especially with your ex. This is meant for you – to help you heal. Others won’t fully understand the way you want them to. You may be tempted because it may help them understand you better, but take it from someone who has had that go terribly wrong, just keep it to yourself.
I have faith that I won’t be alone forever. That someday in the future I’ll have a mix that never ends, just keeps growing with new memories and experiences. But for now, I have this list of mixes that help me to understand myself better. That help me to see what has been good, what has been bad. They help me remember what I want, what I’m looking for and help me to never settle for less than I deserve. It helps me to not feel alone in any particular moment. In the ups and downs of all these relationships I have found someone who gets it – someone who has experienced that moment and has lived to write a song about it.