Good god, I love a breakup song. Honestly, they’re so much better than love songs, so much more potent. And I say this as someone who’s been in a committed monogamous relationship for thirteen years. I can’t personally connect most of the time, but still, there’s just something powerful about a breakup song.
I listened to Phoebe Bridgers’ Motion Sickness on the way to work one day last week and remembered how bewitching it is. I listened to the song three times in a row because the first and second listens weren’t enough. I’m not exactly a Phoebe stan (I’m not sure why; on the surface, I should be obsessed with her music), but oooh boy that song really does it. I mean, I was a former Ryan Adams stan, so I feel like it’s my breakup song, too. I broke up with him and his music, too, after all the news about him being a bonafide creep. And that was tough, seeing as his music was a part of my adolescence and has always been present in Michael’s and my household.
So when Phoebe sings about her struggle to separate herself from him in Motion Sickness, I feel a kinship. Obviously not the same, but potent nonetheless.
For today’s prompt, connect to the power of breakup art. Doesn’t matter if your connection to that breakup power is romantic, platonic, familial, or fan-based. A breakup’s a breakup and the art it unleashes is worth exploring.
First of all, you know my affinity for music as inspiration, so I would highly suggest starting by selecting your favorite breakup song and playing it at least once through. Especially if you’re tapping into a feeling that is not aligned with where you’re at right now, the breakup song can help you to feel break-up-ey.
If you’re already in it and don’t need more inspiration that your current situation, then that’s quite good, too. But if you’re not, no reason to bag off and skip this prompt.
As usual, set your timer for five minutes and let the words come through you. You can write about that song, you can write about that breakup; you can focus on pain, you can focus on rebirth. It’s a loose prompt that allows you to see where the topic takes you. And then, after your five minutes are up, read back over what you’ve written. See if it wants to shift or stay the same. Is there a seed in the midst of your five minute write that can be fertilized a little bit and grown into something new? Or maybe all by itself you’ve created a piece you’d like to stand on its own.
As always, there is no right, there is no wrong, there is only your process and what you want to do with it. If you’d like to send in your piece for the next newsletter, just hit “reply” down there and send it my way.
The thing is, Carrie never meant it to be real. She needed to express her frustration, be heard, and, hopefully, see Jenna appreciate her for the great partner she was. It all blew up in her face, though, and wasn’t worth rehashing with Teddy.
“Yeah, I had a breakup a little while ago. It’s fine, though. I’m fine. I’m over it.”
He raised his eyebrows in that way she was already starting to recognize. Some soft blend of playful and concerned. A lot contained in that little brow shift. He clearly wanted to know more, but wasn’t going to ask. He took a massive bite of his sandwich and let the silence sit in the car for a while. She shifted and bit her inner cheek—a flap of skin from when she bit herself at dinner last night. She explored the gash with the tip of her tongue, enjoying and hating the dull, sore pain.
“My girlfriend Jenna,” she felt the story leap out, unbidden, “she never really got me. There wasn’t really anything wrong with the relationship, but it just all added up after a while.”
Carrie considered leaving it at that, leaving out the accidental breakup, but Teddy kept chewing his sandwich and let her fill the silence.
“Okay, well, actually, I didn’t mean to break up with her. Not for real. I wanted to shock her into changing or something.” Carrie groaned. “God, I know that’s so toxic.” He didn’t disagree. “And karma got me in the end, of course.”
He smiled and she couldn’t tell if it was encouragement, understanding, derision?
“Yeah, you can’t shock people into changing.” He shrugged. “I learned that lesson, too.”