The Breakdown Of A Divorce

How Songwriting Got Me Through The Divorce

Divorce_Writing MusicA little over three years ago I was in the kitchen making a ham & cheese sandwich, (funny the details I remember), when my husband hurried in the room and said, “I have to tell you something”. He didn’t have to say a word. The tone and body language were unmistakable. I knew instantly that he’d had an affair.

After throwing a large box of kitchen matches at him & slamming my fist on the counter so hard it separated from the wall, I lit a cigarette and told him to get out.

Over the next few months I kept telling myself as some small consolation that, at the very least, I’d get a bunch of songs out of the heartache — but those songs were months away.

While I was waiting for them to come, I went to Louisiana with a church group. Our job was not to build a house but to knock one down. The irony was not lost on me. As an aside, let me say right now there is no better form of therapy than swinging a sledge hammer for seven days straight. By the end of that trip I was known as “Sledge”.

Back in Brooklyn, I found myself stomping angrily through the ice & snow (winter breakups suck) to a local Zen monastery, tweaking on caffeine and reeking of nicotine to get “peaceful”.

I always prided myself on being “strong,” and while I knew that the end of my 20-year relationship would knock me off my feet for a bit, I figured I’d be good as new — hell, even better, in no time. I laughed out loud as I typed that last sentence.

I kept waiting for my new life to begin, but every morning I’d wake up and all I’d feel was the absence of my old life.

On some of my darkest days, I really do believe that I would have given up a year of my life just to be further down the road. To have skipped the part where I had to deal with lawyers and well-meaning friends who would give me the, “oh you poor thing,” look every time I walked into a room. To skip the part where I realized that all my funny stories from the last 20 years had to be altered from we to me.

The moment I’d realized I couldn’t skip any of it is the moment I started writing songs about it. I’ve have never been so grateful to have music in my life as I while was going through my breakup. Every song felt like a rung of a ladder and in the end, helped to lift me up and back out into the world. It is good to be back.

“Not Giving Up On Love” is the final song on my new album. I wrote it to express my belief in love, despite the end of my marriage. I knew I had a little longer to go to get over everything, but I also knew that I would. The path had become clear and I was certain again.

Terry Radigan


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