About two years ago this time, I was re-entering an apartment that I once shared with someone I thought I’d be sharing a home with forever. I didn’t expect to find so many traces of him, as he had agreed to clear out all of his belongings before leaving and moving across the country.
Instead, a large white laundry basket sat in the corner of the bedroom. For weeks, I didn’t even open the lid. I would just open the bedroom door wide enough to hide the dreaded basket of doom. Then, I got curious. Maybe it wasn’t so bad — maybe there were no skeletons in the closet. Maybe it was just full of clothes that belonged to me (after all, it had been months since I had been able to live in my home).
When I finally mustered up the courage to lift the lid, there it was. Just what I had expected, and more. Piles and piles of his stuff. His towel. His flip flops. His hoodie. His t-shirts. His shorts. His underwear. Memories reaching up to my abdomen were living in my bedroom with me, and I still didn’t have the energy to touch them (it actually took me months to get rid of the basket, and that haunted and disgusted me daily).
To the woman reading this who has had to donate his clothes (or throw them away if you’re like me and had no energy and zero chill).
To the woman reading this who has also had to live with his guitar in the corner.
To the woman reading this who had to get rid of the art on the walls that you got together on your honeymoon.
To the woman reading this who still receives mail with a last name that no longer belongs to you.
Wherever you are in the “letting go” process, you are not wrong. You don’t have to feel rushed. And you also don’t have to feel any obligation to hold on a second longer than you feel peace about. Only you can know the pace of your healing. It is your gift to yourself — to feel it all so very deeply, and then to release it. I judged myself for a very long time about being right or wrong about holding on or letting go. It’s confusing. It’s complicated. And in all the marriage counseling and couples therapy, no one ever prepares you for how you are supposed to handle yourself when you have a home full of him…without him. Be gentle with yourself. You’re not alone. And it gets a hell of a lot better — I promise. But girl…get rid of the laundry basket when you’re ready. That’s where the real dirty work begins.