by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
Like, perhaps, many of you . . . I’ve had my share of broken hearted relationships going as far back as my teenage youth. Music had always been a major part of my life and I would tend to express my unhappiness by finding and relating to the heartbroken lyrics and music of many song writers and lyricists who could express their unhappiness in words and music far better than I.
I recall listening to these songs over and over, wallowing in my own despair . . . not willing to let go . . . crying, hoping, and praying that each situation might magically turn itself around and we would find ourselves together again in a state of bliss and happiness. My favorite songs that I would choose to play as a musician were ballads . . . songs of unrequited love and broken hearts. I loved the music of such writers of Sammy Cohn and Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Matt Dennis, and many, many more. Recording artists such as Sinatra, Ella, Sarah, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, et al. were m playlist. I must have appeared to be happy being unhappy.
These were not happy times by any means. The words and music were like prayers and I recall Father Joseph Martin having said, “The best prayers you ever said were when you were at the bottom of the pit. “
But not all of these artists and song writers wrote only sad songs. In fact, they wrote and sang more happy songs than they did mournful songs. And isn’t this the way of the world? In time, everything changes and we eventually put on a happy face.
When does unhappiness turn into happiness? . . . whenever one finally becomes tired of feeling miserable. It happens after weeks, months, or perhaps even years, when we come to terms and accept the reality of a given situation and that there is nothing we can do other than to move on with our life. As Dr. Glasser reminds us, one of the 3 reasons why people choose to depress is because they know there is something they need to do and they a.) Don’t want to do it, or b.) Don’t know how to do it. In situations of broken hearts, “a.)” is the primary component.
Letting go of what cannot be controlled eventually comes to those of us who have been mourning the loss of a loved one . . .by breakups, divorce, and even death. Acceptance. Making real of what is and not how we want things to be. Using your own experiences, you will realize that it wasn’t until you accepted the reality of the situation and that there was nothing you could do to change it that you began to move on with your life and feel better. Looking back on your past lost loves, I would be willing to wager that you can now do so feeling a bit of gratitude for having known them, even if for a little while; for the experience and lesson you may have learned, for the things they may have taught you, and when times were filled with passion and happiness. I would even venture to say that as you read these words, a slight smile may appear as you recall those times with those you lost long ago.
I still listen to the love songs of my favorite song writers and lyricists. I appreciate a well-written and performed ballad. The difference now is that I appreciate them for their beauty, creativity, and sensitivity . . . knowing that the creators, too, had the same broken hearts that I have experienced . . . to be able to express it in words and music. The songs sometime bring back memories of my lost loves and sometimes they don’t. And when they do, and after all is said and done . . . I look back on them and realize they were all good. For even in bad experiences, there is good to be found. In retrospect, you may, perhaps, even feel fortunate that they did end when they did.
The only two choices we have to overcome any unhappiness is:
- Change what you want and/or
- Change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.
There are no other options other than to feel miserable until you do so.