One of the things that gives me great comfort is music. I sing karaoke. I sing in the shower. Sing in the car with my son. Tap my toes or fingers along to the beat in my headphones at work. Music was the first friend I turned to when things got rough in my marriage while being the last one to join me in battle as I faced down and defeated my ego. My “Divorce Soundtrack” provided an endlessly evolving snapshot into the sad and chaotic state of my heart and mind. One I could play on random repeat for as long as I needed.

Technology supercharged the old school mixtape experience to ridiculous proportions. What Google Play couldn’t accelerate was my understanding of traumatic life events and the part I played in them. Only reflection and remorse over time could bring empathy and epiphany and hopefully release.

I’ve had varying amounts each since I started down this path and am coming to see many of the songs I selected in a new light. I was unconsciously channeling my son’s mom it seems, her pain now a powerful and poignant melody weaving its way through my soul and pummeling my ego into submission. I still got to feel all sad and maudlin about my “victimhood,” but I also gained insight and enlightenment over the long run. A win-win-win for sure.

Take the song Stitches by Shawn Mendes. I’ve been listening to it on a regular basis since its release four years ago. It’s on my Karaoke Setlist. It immediately touched the wounded martyr in me and justified his suffering. Of course this is the worst anyone has ever hurt! Of course I’ll need someone to breath me back to life when it’s done. How numb my days and nights will be without her kisses, but darn it, I’ll gather up the pieces of my broken heart and sew it back together.

Last week, it occurred to me that Stitches is more appropriately her song to me, probably a chart-topper on her divorce mixtape. My words cut like knives, the primary intention when my demons were confronted too directly by a courageous wife who loved me deeply and without condition. If that didn’t work, there was always The Bourbon and The Basement. She was the moth drawn to the flame, lured in and not sensing my pain. My heart was bitter-cold to the warmth of her touch. I mastered avoidance and neglect with a ready smile early in our marriage. Likely her only source of relief.

That’s just one of a dozen songs I played over and over again for years to deal with my emotional pain, only to recently realize I had both the Protagonist and the Antagonist totally wrong. I consider it an important lesson for my growth. If I’m always the victim of an eternal internal melodrama how does anything ever get better? Every human must first and foremost admit the possibility that they can be 100% wrong at any given time on any given subject. Perhaps painfully so.

I never again want to leave the type of memory that only a needle and thread can fix.