Yes, you should absolutely purge your home of your ex! If you’ve recently divorced, or gotten out of a long term relationship, there’s a good chance your home is still filled with items that belong to or remind you of your ex. This makes sense, especially if you spent years or decades building a life with someone. But in the long run, these tangible things are probably holding you back from some intangible goodness like rebuilding, growing, and thriving as a single person. Here’s my take on why you should purge your home of your ex:
You can’t look forward while also looking back
One of the hardest parts of divorce is realizing that the life you thought you would have is no longer a possibility. It’s hard. Really fucking hard. But the only way to build yourself back up and move on is to focus on the future. Period. Now you have a blank slate in front of you as a single person. What will you become? Who will you become? Strong, amazing, and resilient … but it takes some work.
And having constant reminders of your past in front of you is not going to help. I repeat. That will not help. If you’re constantly reminded of your past life, you will have a hard time focusing on the future in front of you and that’s really unfair – really unfair to yourself! Photos, mementos from trips, gifts, items passed down from family … these are all holding you back.
During my ten year relationship with my ex I had saved several boxes of cards and other mementos from what I had thought was a wonderful relationship. It was hard letting go of those. I loved that my ex wrote long messages and notes in cards. But I would read these and become enraged. How could someone be so deceiving? How could someone act one way with me and another way with other people? There was no point in keeping those reminders of something I thought I once had. Into the trash they went and it felt sad, but liberating at the same time. Purge your space of those types of emotional landmines.
It’s hard to build new relationships
Imagine dating someone who is constantly surrounded by reminders of a past relationship. Not cool. If your house is filled with belongings, mementos, and reminders of your past relationship it’s going to make it more difficult to build new relationships. Maybe a new relationship isn’t what you need right now. (I definitely suggest a good amount of self-love before throwing yourself into the dating game post-divorce.) But you will eventually want and need new relationships and don’t let anything hold you back from finding something really good.
It feels SO GOOD
You may be reluctant, but let me tell you from experience – purging your home of your ex feels so good! Do what you need to do – maybe it takes you several months or a few days – but it will feel so good once it’s done. I was pretty quick to get rid of framed photos and other very obvious mementos – way before our divorce was finalized, I purged so much as a way of recovery and self-care. I realized quickly that the more I purged, the better I felt. Yes, sometimes it was very sad. I remember throwing frame after frame into a big outdoor garbage pail. I cried. But I knew that life was over. It could never be fixed and there was no point holding onto those good memories that now seemed so stained.
Do it your way
You may make margaritas, fire up a grill, and have a party burning old photos. As I was pregnant during a lot of my purging, I sadly did not get any margaritas. 🙁 Have a friend over for support and fill garbage bags with old crap. Give your ex a reasonable amount of time to get his shit and then pack it up for donating or trashing. You, my dear, are not a storage unit. I played that role for a bit and it helped for keeping things on friendly terms, but I normally wouldn’t recommend it, especially for extended amounts of time.
If you have kids with your ex, you may be tempted to keep more than is necessary. I get this temptation – one day your kids may want to know about that time of their lives, how they came to be. But you don’t need 1000 things. I kept a small box of wedding items and other things I thought my daughter may one day have an interest in and the rest was trashed. Nowadays, you can keep photos buried in the cloud or on a computer folder somewhere. Keep some photos for your children in a place you won’t often see. I have wedding photos stored on an external hard drive, but I never see them and they aren’t a constant reminder of my past. I kept them only in case my daughter one day has an interest.
Divorce, or a major breakup of any kind, is a transformation. You are completely changing your way of life because someone that took up so much space is no longer there. You can look at all that open space in mourning or you can look at it in terms of freedom. You are now free to craft any life you wish. You are now free to focus on your own self care and love – something we often neglect in serious relationships. Don’t let stuff hold you back. Take the time and purge your home of your ex. Item by item … you will open the doors to greater healing.
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