When we decided to separate 18 months ago, I stayed in our home with Miss Monkey and my STBX moved out. For one, I wasn't the one who wanted to end things and therefore didn't think I should have to be the one uprooted. Two, we wanted our daughter to have the continuity of staying in her preschool...at least one thing in her little life would haven't to change. Since then, I've dreaded the moment when it would be time to start packing up and cleaning out. I dreaded it even though there were many days when I also wanted nothing more than to be out. It was hard to breathe under the weight of all the supposed-to-be's.
We'd been planning to put the house up for sale in February, so it was kind of lucky I wouldn't have to be at my job anymore. We had six years of stuff to weed through and divide up. My parents came to visit the first weekend we started, and once we got going I attacked it like a project. I was able to be detach and decide what I wanted to keep (not much), what my STBX could have, and what I wanted sell (a lot...the china, the silver, my rings....). We had so much to do, there wasn't time for wallowing. Until, that is, I got to the closet that had the boxes of pictures.
We'd actually never unpacked them. I just stared at them for a minute, not sure if I wanted to meander through hundreds of neatly captured (happy) moments when I was supposed to be cleaning up our messy present. It'd have to be done sooner or later, so I pulled the first box onto my bed and started opening the paper envelopes. For the first couple of hours, I was fine, I really was. I had my piles: for me, for him, for friends, for trash and save for later (which is where I put all the ones of us together or as a family). I looked at the images of us from high school, from college, from our first apartment, from our trip up the coast of California, our shower, our wedding, bringing Miss Monkey home...one after another of us happy, smiling, holding hands, smooshing our faces close. I looked at those faces and wondered who they were. I know people often say that after all the rawness of divorce heals, you get to a point where you look back and feel like you're seeing someone else's life. That has always been so hard for me to imagine...how could it feel like anyone's but your own? You were there. You knew. But, know what? That's exactly what it was like. And when I suddenly realized it, I collapsed. I cried longer and harder than I have in a long time. There was something so, so sad about reaching that point. I guess I'd been hoping in a way that I wouldn't. I didn't rush it away though. I kept opening the envelopes and looking at every single snapshot. I went slow. I allowed myself to soak in the past and say goodbye.
When I got through the last box, my body and my heart felt as heavy as lead. I gave myself a couple of days to come back to myself, and I did, much sooner than I expected. It's been about a three or four weeks since, and I'm feeling lighter. And now that we've stripped every room of overly personal details in the name of staging, being there is easier, too. The dread is gone, replaced with a new...unusual...feeling: excitement for what's next.