I never expected seven feet of brown micro suede to elicit an emotional response from me. It was just a couch. Sure, it had the extra pizazz of dual recliners and a matching loveseat; but, still, it was just furniture. This couch of which I speak last night took the place of a similar, though slightly more worn version, in my living room. It’s true that the worn spots around the edges were starting to get to me; but, with my post-divorce budget I didn’t see new furniture in my future anytime soon. Otherwise, I had mixed emotions when I gazed upon my old couch. Part of me felt pride, and part of me felt haunted.
Again, why so much emotion wrapped up in a piece of living room furniture?
Well, I recall the feelings of pride and satisfaction on the day I first purchased that sofa, along with a matching loveseat and recliner. This was my first big furniture purchase as an adult, and it was thrilling to see my home come together as an inviting and comfortable space for my family. I rocked and cuddled my children on those pieces when they were very small. In the background of hundreds of family photos one can catch a glimpse of those furnishings at every holiday and picture-worthy moment of a decade of my life. They were comfortable. They were functional. They were home.
As my marriage advanced through time, the various pieces began to take on new meaning. First, the recliner became an object of my frustration. My ex-husband claimed this piece as his from the time we bought it. Like Archie Bunker and many men before him, that recliner became his throne in our domestic palace.
When he came home from work each day, he would plant his behind on the seat, which eventually became molded to the shape of his body. He would spend hours upon hours in that chair watching TV, eating, and reclining as our family life and marriage passed by. I began to hate that chair because it surely received a lot more of his time and attention than I ever did! The comfort of that chair kept him from helping out with the kids, interacting with me, or lending a hand to help out around our home.
One end of that couch became my center of command. Early in the mornings before my children were awake and at night after they went to bed I completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees studying or reading there. While sitting on that couch one morning I opened a message on Facebook from my long lost sister, whom I had never met. Good things happened while perched on that couch, then bad…
My marriage took a serious decline, we went to counseling, we made an attempt to get things back on track, and finally it was evident that we were on our way to a divorce. We couldn’t be in the same room without fighting and I could barely stand the sight of him. I surely couldn’t bear to share our bed any longer, and the couch became my bed.
I recall trying to sleep on the couch while he tried to make me miserable by blaring the TV to keep me awake. I recall the ache in my back as night after night laying on it the structural supports began to dig into my body. I recall looking up to see him standing over me with his imposing 6’5” frame yelling down at me. I recall no greater feeling of freedom than dragging that couch into my first apartment after I left him, knowing I could actually sleep in a bed again, but I still had it available for me to sit on with my children or friends.
Sometimes I would look at it and remember that, miles away, it had a matching recliner and loveseat still sitting in my ex’s living room. Sometimes I would gaze on it with sadness, regret, or even appreciation knowing the role it played in my life before, during, and after my divorce. Like me, it had a history. Some of that history was good, and some was bad. It went through two more moves with me and served me well until it landed on my curb last night and another woman stopped to claim it and add more stories to its existence.
I only imagined that new living room furniture would thrill me from a practical or decorative standpoint. I never imagined that seeing a new couch in its place would make me almost want to cry because I no longer have to look at it and be prompted to think about any of those things again. My furniture now has no history. Like me, my new couch has a fresh start in life.
I am symbolically attaching all of my bad marriage memories to that couch and throwing them out on the curb. I will sleep on this new couch- if I want to. I will live and love, celebrate, gather with people I care about, and make new memories with my new furniture in the background. My new couch will be the setting for Friday movie night, opening stockings on Christmas morning, and long talks about life with my kids as they grow up.
Now that I am remarried, I am also pleased that such a large object representing my past no longer fills a prominent space in our home. Our new furniture is ours instead of a relic from my past marriage.
I was almost overjoyed shopping for colorful new throw pillows this morning before work. My journey through divorce taught me to discover and appreciate my strength and what I have to offer myself and others. My life is now decorated with laughter, hugs, smiles, and my beautiful new marriage. Pretty pillows will serve to welcome and enhance my new couch, just as peace, confidence, and happiness now beautify my life!