The end of any relationship is the beginning of building a life without him or her in it. You have to pick through all the little pieces of debris he left in your life and find new things to fill in the holes.
Like any significant other, Alex infiltrated almost every corner of my life. After we split I had to give up certain TV shows and movies (farewell, Shaun of the Dead). I’ll never again wear the jewelry he gave me (which is unfortunate, since some of it was nice). And I can’t even look at orange juice without thinking of him (he drank his brand of choice, Simply Orange, daily).
However, no area has born the brunt of my relationship demise more than my music. My iTunes catalog (or my iPod, if I'm on-the-go) has massive holes in its structure. Entire albums have sat untouched since our last weekend together. And as if I needed another reminder that we’ve broken up, I still haven't deleted his playlist (it’s a really good playlist!).
Artists he took with him include Ambulance LTD, Last Days of April, Juliana Theory, most of Radiohead, and chunks of Coldplay. Some artists—like Jamie Cullum—he managed to hold onto even though he barely liked them. But since I kept their songs on heavy rotation while we were together, they got tossed out the window as well.
In a few instances, I laid my claim quickly. Rather than letting Alex take Death Cab for Cutie just because he introduced me to them, I forced myself to listen to the albums again and again until I stopped associating them with him. I kept Death Cab because I wanted them, despite the fact that traditional breakup rules would have given them to Alex, and now they're one of my favorite bands.
I’ve also found a new appreciation for some of his signature artists that I never got into while we were together. Bright Eyes, a cry-fest emo group, was all Alex's. They have some great music, but I think it’s fitting that I never really liked them until we broke up and I had something to cry about. Then there are The Decemberists, who I always hated when he would make me listen to them. Now I find myself going back to them again and again (please, no one tell him he was right). Guster still sits untouched, but I never liked them anyway.
Most importantly, there’s the music I listen to for healing. Or crying. Or a little of both. Of course Alex has left his mark on this category (Bright Eyes fits nicely into the crying genre), but most of them come from my own stash. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”; Ben Folds’ "Gone"; 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me”; and Ryan Montbleau's "Just Perfect"—this is the soundtrack to my breakup. It's comforting to see my heartache reflected in someone else’s words. It reminds me that others have been through this, survived, gone on to love again, and wrote really kick-ass songs about the experience. I may not be able to do the latter, but I sure as hell am going to try for the first three.