When my ex and I were navigating our divorce part of me hoped that he would want the house and everything in it. Part of me wanted to be able to start new in a new space with no memories or residual emotional ooze on everything. In the end, he chose to leave and moved his stuff gradually out of the house bit by bit at night while Mina and I slept.
He never had stuff around, and our house was pretty sparse of his things to begin with. I had memories stored in the rooms themselves. What could I do about that? I certainly can’t remove portions of rooms! What I did do was to create a map of the house on paper, wrote down the feelings I felt in each room, and evaluated how to proceed from there.
I cleaned him from my life layer by layer. Identifying that the bedroom was the hardest, I just closed the door to block the emotional residue from impacting me (it took me about 2 months to feel ready enough to enter). I tackled the easy stuff next so that I could feel like I was accomplishing something. I changed the couch cover, got a new cushion for my IKEA chair, moved furniture around, and put loving pictures & reminders on the walls.
Whenever I found something of his that he had left behind during this cleaning, I would put it in a box in the garage. Many things had an emotional attachment for me such as pictures, photo albums, the wedding cross-stitch banner I had made. We were together for 12 years and I could still remember when he had given me a certain card or the feelings I felt captured in that picture. It was really really hard for me to not toss everything. I wanted to. Maybe have a little cleansing burn and truly be free of it. But I felt that I would be robbing our daughter of the good times. She deserved to see that her parents truly loved each other, at least for a little while. I made a decision that, at some point, I would have a wooden box made to put all the loving reminders in and lock it up for Mina to unlock when she was ready.
Removing things, revisiting with the memories and letting them go helped me to move on. A feeling would appear and I would honor it, thank it for bringing joy into my life, and release it as I put that item in a box. Finally, in the basement I was faced with all the paperwork of our life together: bills, bank statements, credit card bills, medical stuff. What was I going to do with that? I made a decision to make something beautiful out of it and shift the memories. I stopped where I was, got in the car, and went to buy a paper shredder.
In case you were wondering, it takes about four and a half hours to shred 12 years of documents and it fills one of those blue IKEA shopping bags. I cried pretty much the whole time. I decided to make paper mache bowls out of the shreds and give them to those who had really helped me on my journey. I wanted to replace the hurt feelings I felt while shredding the papers with love. I was referring back to the Japanese Oryoki begging bowls. Japanese monks have one bowl and go door to door asking for food. They are grateful for whatever is placed in their bowl, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, sometimes nothing at all. In my mind this translated to the concept that we are all given just enough for us to handle, that it is a lesson and we should accept it with a grateful heart because it will help us to become who we are meant to be.
This helped me further remove the hurt and anger from my heart toward my ex by shifting the feelings into gratitude. I couldn’t move on with my life if I had emotional roots to my past.
Finally, I came to the last step in removing my ex from my life. I had to clean the emotional ooze that had left a residue over everything and I needed to enter the bedroom. I looked online about how to energetically clean my space. I began with setting salt bowls in the corners of the room to absorb the negative energy that I could viscerally feel, then moved into cleaning the walls with vinegar.
The bedroom was the hardest because it only contained his energy. We had moved into the house only two years before and I had already been asked to find another place to sleep, told that I was not welcome in the bedroom with him. Opening the door after months shut away was like opening a door to a sauna – hot and suffocating. Taking a deep breath I moved through it with my salt, vinegar, vacuum, and baking soda. I took the bed apart, leaned the mattress against the wall as I cleansed every inch of the bed, baseboards, ceiling. EVERY INCH! I opened windows and let the room breathe again. Finally, I could claim it as mine.
It took me about three months to work through it all and by the end, it felt clear and neutral. But there was also a void. What it needed was love. I needed to fill it with reminders of how to love and care for myself. Digging out my old Feng Shui book, I mapped out my house again with the intention of creating more flow and love. It felt good, grounded, and mine.
I declared the space a house of peace and put a plaque at the door stating: Peace to All Who Enter Here. My house was a place of peace and love. Do not come in if you can not uphold the peace I had created. Ironically, after I placed my plaque at the door, my ex never came into my house when he would pick up Mina and would wait on the sidewalk. It took three years for him to feel comfortable coming inside and sitting down.
As you reclaim yourself after a divorce, reclaim your space and make it your own. It is the only way to step away from your past and stand strong in your future.
- The Marital Home: Is Home Still Sweet After Divorce?
- 10 Ways To Make The Marital Home Feel Like Your Own On Any Budget
- What I’m Thankful For: My Home
- The Calm After The Storm And My Long-Awaited Return Home