When I walked out of my abusive marriage and moved from San Diego to Utah, I initially took very few items with me. After all, I had almost zero time to prepare for that move. I literally learned I had cancer and moved days later. Finally, my bad marriage was over– I was out of there. I threw things the girls and I would need in trash bags and loaded up our Jeep Commander with as much as it could hold. Just the essentials– my daughters, the cat, winter clothes and toothbrushes, basically.
My then-husband, Rob the Great (Alcoholic) threatened to throw everything I left behind in the street if I didn’t get my ass back home within days. Who cares that I had chemo appointments, Rob the Great (Alcoholic) had different needs (like drinking all night long). A quick call from my attorney to his nixed his plan– my items would stay in OUR home until I was good and ready to retrieve them (and had my oncologist’s permission to travel).
Some six months later, when I felt a little better after my first stem cell transplant, my dad and I drove to San Diego. I knew that Rob was out of the country so there would be no drama with him. He tried to arrange a date for me to come out when it was convenient for him. But there was not a chance in Hell that in my fragile mental and emotional health that I was going to face my abuser. I could envision it all too well– a drunk Rob screaming in my face and a call to the police to help. So I waited until he was gone, met up with professional movers, and meticulously had my things packed up. I placed many of my favorite items in our bedrooms in my parents’ home– beds, dressers, artwork, the Kitchen Aid mixer and linens. The rest went into a storage unit.
It’s been four years and it’s time to purge a whole lot of that furniture. We moved into our new home and we have no need for most of it. So I’ve started selling things, one at a time. I have to admit, it is really painful. I look at, say, a dresser that I sold yesterday. I originally purchased it to place in my step-daughter’s bedroom. Nicky took it out of its original box and spent hours putting it together. After she moved out, the dresser went into the guest room, then my daughter, Morgan’s bedroom, and when we moved, Siena inherited it. I loved that dresser– pale yellow, kind of shabby chic, solid wood. I sold it to a woman who was getting a divorce and whose husband got their dresser. I nearly teared up as we loaded it into her van. “Enjoy it!” I called out to her. “And best of luck in your new life.” She would need blessings and support in the months ahead. And for me? I parted with a tangible piece of my past, a memory that was actually a good one, filled with hope for our new family and decorating our new home.
I also sold a white shabby chic bookshelf. I searched long and hard for that piece. Solid wood, beautifully distressed. Perfect, back in my old home in San Diego. It originally went into my oldest daughter’s bedroom. When we moved, my younger daughter got it and we filled it with books, photos, and keepsakes that Rob and I picked up in Russia when we adopted her. I cried after that piece of our lives went to a college student. Her dad came with her and they loaded it up in his truck.
Next will be my beautiful designer red couches that Rob loved sleeping on in our vacation home in Big Bear Lake, California (or, more accurately, passing out on) after a hard day of skiing and an even harder evening of drinking. Those will be easier to part with, those I love the color of them. Bright, cheerful. Oh well.
As hard as parting with these pieces of my past is, I am settling into it a bit better. Today, I am selling Siena’s toy chest and bicycle– a bike that Rob and I purchased together on Black Friday during our last Thanksgiving together. I knew our marriage was on borrowed time but I did not know that it only had a few weeks left. We had flown out to Salt Lake City to visit my parents over Thanksgiving weekend. On January 2, I had Rob removed from our home after calling 911. Oh, the memories, good and bad.
As much as I hated my old life and how proud I am of crafting a new (and far better) one, looking back is still painful. I never loved Rob. I did not want to get married. I tried to back out of it. And within months, I uttered the words “I want a divorce” for the first time. You can read that Road to Hell in my series Marriage Hell:
But besides all that, I wanted the marriage to work. I tried. I had hope. I was shattered and left sick. But all the furniture and left overs? It’s just stuff. Purging is ok. Letting it go.