Who knew in 2013, when my divorce was final – the week before I turned 40 – I would wait 3 plus years to deal with it all?
I left our home within 2 days of deciding to separate. I moved two kids under 3 to 3 different homes within 2 years, tried to reconcile 3 times and after a year of marriage counseling called it quits. We “finished” the divorce within the 92 days Colorado allows, but everything from the marriage, our home together, my children’s baby rooms, and my life as I knew it ended up in storage unit 17 of the closest public storage.
Going through storage unit 17 was like spring cleaning to a degree higher than I knew possible! As overwhelming as it was to go through 27 bins of my life collected over 20 years, there are at least 7 things I found that made it great.
1. I found perspective
The many things that I thought were so important 3 years ago are not. Those 10 pairs of baby shoes can make so many other little kids and moms happy. That beautiful baby bedroom set that I picked out as a soon to be mom – that’s SO cute – is so my yesterday – not today! Perspective changes as fast as life does. The time of separation – from him and your things- is really helpful.
2. I found love
You get married and truly believe he is the one – and he is supposed to be! If that doesn’t work out and you were mindful enough to keep the cards, letters, and pictures with all the great and learning relationships that lead to him, you will find love again. I am not saying “go chase the has-beens.” I am telling you that by looking at the photos, reading the cards and letters from high school, through college and law school, I found love from so many that I didn’t appreciate like I can today.
3. I found growth
From my 2003- 07 tax returns to my engagement cards, wedding planning folder, baby cards and a million pre-digital and pre-facebook pictures, I have grown. Financially, emotionally and socially – yes I’ve aged too! My non-existent babies then are now 6 and 7! My ideas of success then have changed drastically. On this side of the divorce, I have grown in confidence, grace, and gratitude in ways I could not imagine possible.
4. I found peace
I found all my pictures, letters and reasons why I fell in love with him. I found our wedding napkins, our marriage certificate, wedding video and our divorce decree. I found his boots, his blankets, and pictures upon pictures upon pictures of all of the amazing times we have together. First date, first trip a week later, post- Christmas trip to Australia to meet the parents, engagement in Paris, wedding in Beaver Creek, babies in Vail. It was all wonderful. Unloading, purging, and dealing made me realize the terrible end was not our beginning or our existence together. I can put to rest the anger and truly believe everything happens for a reason. I’m at peace.
5. I found strength
I won’t go into how much my legs, ass, and back hurt after lifting, moving, and going through 27 bins of life history, but it took a lot of physical strength. THEN I found all the cards my from grandma, who I lost 5 years ago– the engagement, the bridal shower and wedding cards, the sorry I missed the house warming, the happy baby cards – it was amazing. I saw papers from law school that was so challenging for me. I found pictures from the last 20 years of my life! I found pots and pans my mom bought for me. I realized through the love, the perspective, and growth that I’ve become so strong. Strong in ways that are needed in marriage with someone you can depend on to share life’s challenges. I am strong in ways that make going it alone ok.
6. I found that less is more
As I prepare to move into my new home and wanted to do so mindful of leaving the past behind and bringing the good that is into our new home, I found the power of giving and letting go. Whether it was documents for the shred it pile, stuff to put in the trash, or the great pile of wonderful things I can donate, I found the humility and grace of needing or wanting so much less than when I put it away 3 years ago – trying so hard to hold on to everything as I lost my marriage.
7. I found closure
This one makes me cry. Between getting rid of the baby stuff, to separating the last 2 bins of his stuff from mine, to reading the cards from my grandma who wished us well that will now be so different than expected, I can close these chapters of my life and move forward. Knowing from all of this, I am never alone and always treasure the many things stored in unit 17.
I told a friend just yesterday that it’s the year of the 7. I’ve always found 7 to be lucky, and wish mindful presence and peace in ’17. Please share what you’ve found with us.