I read an article recently about divorce entitled ‘The Harsh Realities of Divorce’. You can find it here. It really just goes through how it actually works with all the decisions and lawyers. It made me think about my own breakup over a year ago now. We have been together seven years, and while we weren’t married, we were living together and sharing a life. So in a way, it was a lot like a divorce.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t want anything. When we broke up, I was just out. I looked around at all our ‘stuff’, and thought ‘I don’t care’. I mean some of it was expensive, and some of it was 100% mine, but I was at a point in my life where I just wanted out.
It was hard at first to consider walking out the door with a bag and starting over. It was extreme, and it scared me. I mean I was going to be losing a lot of money. But really, what does that matter?
Starting again is hard, but what it allows is a complete new beginning. I’m not held down by anything I carry from my old life. We had a lot of entertainment stuff; a flat-screen TV, blue-ray player, Xbox, DVDs, sound system, etc. The few things that weren’t 100% mine we had split. A lot of it I’d had before we got together, or bought myself. I took a look at it all, and knew he’d nickle and dime me over it all, and said ‘take it’. My new life would be without TV, without Xbox and without perfect sound. But I had my laptop and some amazing Bose headphones, so I could make-due. I took a look at all the furniture we’d collected and said ‘the couch is my moms, she’ll want it back, and the bed is mine because I paid for it’. Nothing else matters. The treadmill, the chairs, the coffee table… just take it.
I think it was a weird conversation for him. ‘You don’t want anything?’. He sounded confused. And then, I think it really hurt him. It was a strange thing, because my saying ‘I don’t want anything’ was saying ‘I don’t care about anything we built together’. That’s not true. I do care, and I care enough to make sure it’s not a fight. I care, but I don’t want to take it with me. I’m rebuilding, and I want to start from scratch. I want to restart. I want to have a couch and a bed, and figure the rest out from there.
So I left, and whatever he didn’t want, I donated to the Salvation Army. After living with a friend for a few months, I moved into my new apartment with almost nothing. A couch, a bed, a set of drawers… it was really bare.
But something really cool has happened since then. My grandmother went into a home, and I got her bedroom furniture because I was the only one who liked it. My family looked at it, and hated the color. I looked at it and saw the swooping shape, the cool handles and the old Victorian style legs. I though ‘if I paint that, it’ll be so cool.’ And it seriously is. I painted it dove grey and white with a flare of pink, and it’s new and smooth. I went to the salvation arm and bought a scratched side table for $10, and painted it white. I had an old brown trunk that was falling apart, I painted it dove grey and polished the hardware until it was shiny silver. An old table of my Dad’s was painted white and become my desk. I splurged and spent $200 on a really cool chair, grey with swirls, for some pattering in the living room. I got a Christmas basket this year that had this big tray in the bottom, which I painted pink and put on the coffee table with some baubles and candles.
The other day I looked around my apartment after a year, and I thought ‘holy crap, this places feels exactly like me’. The huge wall handing my brother helped me make out of a big frame and the fence covering from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The picture frames I spray painted black and filled with my own work, pics of my family and friends. The shabby chic old window frame I bought for $20 at one of those antique places because a pane was smashed. Piece by piece I built this place, and it was totally worth it. My place is so comfortable, so carefully designed, that I’m proud to have people over, and proud to come home.
I have up hundreds of dollars in ‘stuff’ when I split up, and I started again. But my new life is exactly what I hoped it would be, and I don’t look at anything and think ‘that was ‘ours”. This life is mine. It was scary, and I learned to have nothing, but it was worth it.
Divorce is scary. I can’t imagine some of these battles people go through. Luckily I didn’t have any children to consider, which I know makes everything different. But I can’t stress enough how very glad I was in the end to just walk away and take nothing with me. We get so attached to things in our life that in the end, mean what? What did that big TV mean to me? What did the Xbox mean to me? In the end, I don’t miss any of it. I don’t want any of it. My lifestyle now is about activities and friends, not coming home to watch TV. And if I want to watch something, I have my computer and Netflix, and that’s all I really need. I go to a nearby pub to watch the games, or a friends house, or the game itself, and I don’t miss anything.
Moving on is never easy. But clinging to things and fighting for them leaves a horrible taste about the whole experience, and starting fresh means getting rid of all that baggage instead of carrying it with you.