Getting Real

There’s a challenge going on over at veggie sausages: who needs it? It’s all about the clutter.

Challenge number two is about the emotions behind clutter and decluttering. I have a few, here and there.

I haven’t chosen an area to do actual, physical decluttering, because, well, screw it, that’s not a priority right now. R. Sativus is. OMG, I just totally put myself first. Sorry, that realization is a little distracting. But trust me, I have done a lot of decluttering in the past. Ian may have moved in with a TV and one box of stuff, but I happen to have years and years of junk accumulation experience. I promise, every time I move, I toss a bunch of crap. But I’ve always replaced it. And of course, we’ve added to it plenty over the past almost nine years.

Most of it, sure, no big deal. Sort and trash. Done. But since 2009, a lot of that junk has taken on a whole new meaning for me, not in a good way. I remember the first few times I ‘went through’ stuff. I kept and filed away all the things I’d written, the letters to Ian, the letters to myself, the pages of my side of the fight from that day I was physically unable to speak due to fury/grief/who-knows-what. The few things he’d written in return. I kept all that hate and bitterness, because it was something real. When your world is completely smashed to bits, evidence of reality becomes exceptionally important.

After I quit my job in 2010, there was even more. I’d had to keep all my uniform shirts and hats and name tags, the jacket I’d received from the company for my first Christmas, the fancy World Record Breaking hat from the event I’d participated in (one of two in the region), my 30 second pizza pin (only one in the region, y’all!). Slowly, that stuff became less important as a reminder of what I’d done and more important as a reminder of what he’d done. So one day I threw it all away. And it felt good. I went through every room in the house to make sure I had it all, and I bagged that shit up like nobody’s business. It was freeing. It was glorious. It was a big fuck-you to everyone there who’d given me a hard time. Even better than the high school ex-boyfriend photo bonfires we used to have. You remember those.

The car was another thing. I can’t take credit for getting rid of it, but that was another day of emotional decluttering.

But the words were another story. Words are precious to me, even those horrible ones. I still needed them. I still needed their reality. So I kept keeping them.

Until I didn’t. We were in counseling, and I thought I was finding out the things I needed to know. I thought I was finding our new normal. It doesn’t matter that I was wrong. It matters that I could go home and throw all of that paper away. It mattered that when, on occasion, I happened across something else that belonged in that file, I didn’t even need to read it anymore. It could go straight in the trash without having the chance to hurt me again. It was still real, but it wasn’t now.

I’m glad I threw all of that away. There have been plenty of days since then that I would have dragged it all out to read, to make myself even more miserable. It’s better that I don’t have that option available. I can understand that, and I can even say that it’s been a while since I even thought about being able to do that. So that’s good.

Getting rid of bad stuff is good. And it makes me feel good.