I've been thinking about this post for a couple of weeks now, but never quite got around to doing it. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to post about it sooner. Perhaps because I can look at it all from a more detached perspective now? Who knows?
Anyway, this isn't a generic one-size-fits-all-BADLY approach . . . this is just my take on it. Perhaps you'll identify, perhaps not. I'm posting it anyway . . .
PART ONE: POST-BREAK-UP REACTION
Music hurts too much. Silence is better, or laments of "how do I survive on my own?" and/or "How COULD he???". Because you suddenly find you can identify with EVERY SINGLE WORD OF EVERY SINGLE SONG. Whether it's the good memories in the happy love songs or the bad memories in the songs of heartbreak, it's impossible to just listen impartially. It's far easier to drown the pain, and the loathing, with alcohol and ranting.
PART TWO: TALES OF A BROKEN HEART
Suddenly music starts to mean something again. But it has to be the sad songs you listen to - you need to indulge your misery, completely IMMERSE yourself in it. It makes sense, all of a sudden, to listen to Phil Collins and relate strongly to "Against All Odds" (I know, CRINGE!!!).
Or perhaps sing along to "All By Myself" Bridget-Jones-stylee, using your (usually empty - you're PISSED, after all!) bottle of wine as a microphone, singing to the rooftops until you burst into tears mid song and, overcome with emotion, fling yourself on your bed. It's safe to say that both emotionally and in terms of musical taste, this is NOT your finest hour . . .
PART THREE: GETTING ANGRY
This is where Kelly Clarkson first shows up. (Seriously, IS there a more bitter song than "Never Again"? I'm not sure). Lots of angry female singer-songwriters make an appearance, along with some angsty nu-metal a la Linkin Park as you start to feel yourself becoming more than a little mad.
Whether its at your ex, yourself or other people who have hurt you in the past, you aren't always sure. But, fuck it, you're MAD!!! And you need music that reflects that. That reflects the fury you feel, that convinces you that you AREN'T the only person who ever felt that way. You need that kind of reinforcement.
PART FOUR: BECOMING STRONGER
Admittedly some of the angry songs still feature in this stage, but perhaps you see the angry songs in a new light. Perhaps "Never Again" isn't quite bitter anymore so much as a way of asserting your independence and showing you're a stronger person as a result. (And, handily enough, Ms Clarkson has many songs that DO slot nicely into this stage - can you say "Since You Been Gone"???) And how about a bit of Destiny's Child? After all you can't dance along with "Independent Woman Part 1" or "Survivor" without feeling more than a little empowered, right? You're still here, you have survived it. You're now ready for . . .
STAGE FIVE: BEING "NORMAL" AGAIN
You go back to liking the sort of music you always liked BEFORE you got hurt. Cool or not-so-cool, music is just music again, it doesn't rip you to your very core. It's a far safer place to be. Until the next guy/girl comes along . . .
REPEAT AS NECESSARY . . .