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No Way Around It - You Have to Go Through It

Singing helps a broken heart.

Two months after my husband suddenly fled our happy marriage and moved in with his girlfriend, while I was still in the depths of hell, I resorted to something radical to ease the pain. I started singing. A friend had taken pity on my miserable state and invited me to attend a rehearsal of her women's barbershop chorus. Not relishing the thought of yet another endless evening home alone with the ticking clock, I agreed to go.

Throughout my life, I'd always thought that if I could have the chance to change one thing about myself, I'd choose to have a lovely singing voice. The reality was, however, that whenever I forgot myself and would sing along with the radio, my family would give me the look and my wavering voice would trail off. So singing was not something I thought I'd ever be invited to do in this lifetime and came as one of the surprising left-field elements of my new single life.

At that first rehearsal, as soon as the group split off into four-part harmony, something inside of me said, "YESSS!" The feeling of being in the center of all that sound was transcendental. I knew I had to try to improve my singing and be accepted into the chorus. But they were just starting to learn a new ballad and hearing it for the first time nearly killed me. It's called There Goes My Heart, and tells the story of a woman whose husband left her for another. It has lines in it like, "I can't believe that he's no longer mine" and "There goes my happiness, it couldn't be" and "There goes somebody else in place of meeee!"

Standing there on the risers that first evening, I made a snap decision. Singing is great but I'm outta here. I can't sing this song. Too painful. But then I thought, therapy doesn't only happen in a therapist's office. I'm here for a reason and when I've sung this song a hundred times, I'll be over it. So I stuck with it and the chorus decided to stick with me. We were singing that song at a contest so we rehearsed it over and over, sometimes with the lights off so we could really get into the feeling behind the words. It really hurt inside, but when the tears would flow, one of the women next to me would put a hand on my back, or squeeze my arm, or whisper in my ear, "Suck it up, girl, and keep singing" and I would.

That was something I had to remind myself of repeatedly during the early months or even first year after my husband left; not to run away from the pain but to sit with it and let it come. It won't kill me and when I consciously ran away, it would follow. It's like when you run away from a bee - don't you feel more scared while you're running? The funny thing was, when I'd tell myself, "Bring it on," I'd feel the pain strongly for a few moments, and then it would quickly soften to a lesser intensity, like I was being rewarded for bravery or something. And now, when I sing, There Goes My Heart and it doesn't hurt - much.

You know that recovering from the loss of a loved one is a major piece of work. In the weeks and months to come, my blog, Schlepping Through Heartbreak, will explore ways that you can bounce back into a new normal, adjusting to your life as a single person, and learn to be happy again.

If what you've read here moved you or started you thinking, please post a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts!