Lately, I find myself ridiculously emotional. I honestly can’t stand myself. I’ll be out having a good time with friends and someone will ask me a question about my past or current situation and I’m instantly in tears pouring out my heart about something that I thought I had worked through and moved past.
Something about packing up a lifetime of memories is bringing everything to the surface. Everything in this house is attached to a memory (good and bad). The drawer with family photos of happy times with the kids making a snow fort in the front yard or a backyard pool party. It honestly feels like another person’s life.
They are our memories but they seem so distant and faded. Memories that are lost beneath the pain that ended it all. I try desperately to hold onto the good times and let the pain pass, but it taints everything. Only someone that has gone through a divorce can understand it I guess.
In the next drawer, I come across my wedding rings and sentimental gifts that were given to me. My first thought it’s a reminder of the pain and the second thought is how much can I sell this crap for? I quickly turn my thoughts to gratitude but the tears still roll down my face. I know deep in my heart that I needed to leave my marriage. I don’t regret that decision for a second. It brought me to a better place with friendships that I never would have in my life if I stayed with him. I let that go years ago, but yet seeing all of these things that were hidden away makes me realize that the pain fades but it never completely goes away.
I move to the next drawer and find a letter from my ex-husband from eleven years into our twenty-year marriage. In the letter, he explains how sorry he was for something that I don’t recall happening at that point in time. There was always some lie or some outburst that caused our marriage to splinter. He tells me how much he loves me and knows he needs to work through his childhood pain. He writes about the loss of his father to suicide when he was only 13 years old caused him to fear loving anyone and himself. He recognized what I saw in his wounded soul all along. He was a little boy that couldn’t let down his guard and open up completely because of the impact of his father’s death. His father couldn’t stand the thought of losing his family when they divorced so he decided to end his pain by ending his life. I wanted so badly to heal my husband but he kept pushing me farther and farther away with lies and deceit. How much of myself did I sacrifice in order to love a man that didn’t want to be loved?
I forgave him long ago for the pain he caused and worked through all of this but the pain in his words brought me back to the time when I allowed him to hurt me over and over again. Do I keep the letters or do I burn them? Part of me wants to hold on to them as a reminder of what we went through but then I realize that I’m holding onto his pain and mine.
I realize that I need these reminders because they are my teachers. They taught me to love myself above loving someone that is broken. It reminds me to never allow anyone to lie and deceive me again because that is not love. It’s hurt. It gives me strength knowing I will never accept that in my life again. The tears are a release and nothing more. They are not weakness or my unwillingness to let go of the past. The tears are letting go of something that defined who I was and who I will never be again.
The next few days are spent packing and purging more. It feels good to get rid of so much clutter that accumulated in this house. It feels good to be letting go but it’s also terrifying. I’m not sure how I’m going to afford my new home and I can’t help but question why I can’t seem to get my career back on track. It’s been years (4 years to be exact) since I lost a career that I loved—a career that I was good at despite its’ many challenges. I want to be able to make a decent living to support my kids and still focus on my dreams of being an author and helping others get through their own pain.
I will make it happen, but this is the first time in a long time I’ve been giving into fear and worry. It overwhelms me. I try so hard to think positively and believe everything will be alright. I just have to get out of this house and move forward. I tell myself, “Everything will fall into place.” I want to believe it but doubt creeps in. The safety net is gone. Another setback has me question my ability to get back on my feet. I have to do it on my own and that terrifies me. I consider myself a tough chick but this really has me spinning with anxiety. I have to be still and breath.
As I clean out another drawer. I find the answer. The drawer is full of budget reports and nasty emails from my former boss. She was trying to push me out and in doing so she was doing her best to make me feel incompetent. There I was, being asked to speak at a national conference due to the success of my programs but my boss was throwing me under the bus for misappropriation of grant funds that I had called them out on. Looking back, I wish I had shut my mouth, but I thought I was doing what was right.
I’m looking through these old files and the hurt, humiliation and unbearable pain are rising to the surface with every nasty email. I only kept this shit because I was worried they would come after me. This was the only proof I had but they were smart enough to cover their tracks and chose their words wisely.
Here I was again uncovering the past I thought I had put behind me. That pain was somehow worse than the betrayal from my husband. This pain was about me doubting myself and losing all the confidence I once had. Losing my job as a single mom was the most traumatic thing I had experienced. It shook me to my core.
Here I am today—wondering why the hell I’m so emotional. Trying to explain myself to people that love me and just want to be happy. They wish I could just let it go and move forward. It makes me frustrated because I wish I could too! What they don’t seem to understand is that this is my journey. This is my healing process. I won’t stay here wallowing in self-pity. It isn’t in my persona to allow anyone to keep me down or take away my power, but I have to process it.
In the past several years, I lost my marriage, my career and now my home. This release and all the tears is the final step I need to take to finally let go. Twenty years of memories of a failed marriage, a sixteen-year career that was so horribly stripped away, a house that was a home for my children for eighteen years.
Now I have to start over and it’s not going very smoothly for me. I had to work through a lifetime of embedded insecurities about myself to get here and I’m still working through it. I’ll get there. With every drawer of painful memories, I release the past. With every tear that runs down my face is worry I have to wipe away.
It takes time and it takes faith. My faith is being tested just to see how strong I have to become to live my true purpose. I feel so lost at times but I’m reminded that I have beautiful people in my life that only want what’s best for me. I’m grateful. I truly am. I just need some hope. I just need something to good to happen that will renew my belief that everything will be okay.
I’m tired of the tears but with every tear that falls I release another hurt and another lie, I once believed. The tears aren’t my despair and sadness necessarily—they’re shedding the past so that I can start over stronger and wiser than the woman I used to be. I may look like an emotional wreck but I’m a work in progress.
One day when I’m in the position to help someone going through their own pain I will be reminded that you can’t fast forward through it. You can’t wish it away or party it away or pack it away. You have to face it every time it presents itself. It’s not a one and done sort of thing.
You can’t let it consume you but you do have to recognize how it is preventing you from moving forward. It is an obstacle that you can’t just go around. You have to sit with it like an old security blanket and realize you no longer need to hold onto it. I’m ready to let go of the old story that life dealt me a bad hand and believe that all of this happened to get me exactly to where I need to go. I hope the same for you.