I’m moving for the second time in roughly seven months, so it’s time to declutter again. I’m touching things that were too hard to think about the last time that feel ridiculously easy to toss now. Each day I’m further away from the tumult of March, of deciding to leave my marriage.
I spent several months balancing moments of joy, relief, and comfort with the truth that I was largely depressed. A low, foggy cloud was in the way of healing and even though happiness shone through the clouds consistently and I knew I had good in my life, the fact that I had yanked the rug out from under what I thought was my happily ever after was jarring.
My decision to leave happened in the span of a few weeks. It still seems so strange that I just up and removed myself from a whole life, like a game piece sent directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. One moment I was a wife trying to start a family with her husband and the next moment I was decidedly single and hurriedly moving everything I owned into a new apartment. And I tried to make it home. It was part of healing, so I thought. I needed the space, the single time, the starting over. I filled the loneliness with casual sex, which I’ve found is not really my thing. I filled the loneliness with unpacking and shopping for colorful things and bringing home new plants. And those things were nice. My apartment was a place of colorful mourning.
But now I’m moving again into a place that feels safe. It feels like home. And even though my same stuff is in it, it just feels right in a way my apartment didn’t. And when I go to the apartment to pack and declutter I realize why it feels right this time.
I’m not running. I’m not desperate. I’m not trying to escape anything. No one is sending me threatening and harassing text messages and having his friend park outside my home to watch me move out.
When I first moved out and into the apartment, I hadn’t had the time to prioritize or declutter things. I was stuffing boxes and moving fast. It wasn’t ideal. So I decluttered as I unpacked, but I held onto things like wedding photos and cards, things my husband had given me in better times, and practical wedding gifts that were still in their packaging.
I even had ideas about turning these items into art projects. I was going to tear strips from my white linen wedding skirt and plaster them to canvas and paint them as a forest of trees. I was going to cut words and well wishes out of the cards and paste them together to form a found word poem about freedom. As a creative, I’m doomed to constantly wonder if I could turn any random idea or object into a powerful statement.
But this time packing and decluttering, it was different. I opened the box of cards, letters, wedding vows, and photos, and I just threw them away. The mix cds with songs that now nauseate me, I just threw away. My skirt is in the donate pile. The notebook in which he wrote one thing he loved about me on each page grew literal mold on it and I threw it away without opening it.
I made the choice to focus on forward. I’m moving into a new home and I don’t want to bring this marriage with me. It’s time to rest. It’s time to put it down.
I still get angry. I uncover more insights into my time with him and I’m just angry sometimes. I spent years of my life on someone who saw me as an ambulatory Amazon Alexa who could bring him toast.
Being treated like that is also something I’ve thrown in the trash.
Memories of bad relationships never go away. They’ll always inform your behavior, and your trauma is no less real even as you move further from your emotional ground zero. But I don’t have to keep physical reminders of the lowest points of my life to remember. I can remember all on my own.
Being able to throw that stuff away was one of the most concrete moments of my healing. I didn’t think about it. I just put it where it belonged. I’m coming out of the fog.