Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching
Smile by Nat King Cole became my divorce anthem, in the days and months after I ended my first marriage. I sang it curled up in the corner of my bathroom, crying on the cold linoleum. I hummed it under my breath at a lunch meeting, when, mid-sentence, tears would assault my eyes in front of a stranger across the table. I wailed it at three o’clock in the morning, when everything about my life was uncertain, when my Dad had gone back home and I was still afraid to stay by myself, when I needed to hear any sound but what came screaming out of the silence.
Marrying the wrong man was not in my life plan. Okay, I’m sure most people who get divorced don’t PLAN for the whole business to last sometime less than forever, but until that point in my life, I’d never failed. At anything. Through the sheer force of my steely will, I’d always been able to make any situation turn out for me in the end.
I don’t write much about my first marriage, because I don’t like to dwell on it. But. One of the best things I’ve ever written (if I were judging my writing) is a work of fiction about the unraveling of a marriage. You can read it here.
Getting out of a bad marriage is almost routine. Lots of things can make a bad marriage. We grew apart. We wanted different things. I just wasn’t happy anymore.
I always look back on that time in my life as a survivor. I survived my first marriage. I had a friend who looked at me near the end and said, “I don’t want to see you the next time in the emergency room. Or worse. I don’t want you to become one of those statistics, the ones that come out of houses in body bags, their lives snuffed out in a few microcosmic seconds of passion.” Until that conversation, I never really believed I was That Girl. THAT happened to other women, ones with fewer choices than I had. Ones who were trapped. Ones who couldn’t find their way out of the screaming abyss of hell.
Until I realized I was in it. I found hell. Or, it found me. Somehow, we mated, and I was almost consumed by the burning heat of the flame.
In some ways, I owe my life to that song. It made me, one faltering note at a time, the survivor that I am.
Do you have a song that got you through a rough time in your life?
This post is part of the series The Soundtrack of Life. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here for the first installment, click here for the second installment, and click here for the third. MTM wrote a great guest post yesterday, which you can find here. Thanks for your contributions and insights in the comments. They always enrich this blog, especially in a series like this one.