Everything Must Go

everything must go
image source; collider film review. Will Ferrel in Everything Must Go

Letting go of our stuff is one of the steps to moving forward but how and when can we do this? That’s the tricky part and there isn’t one perfect answer. Each of us hold different attachments to our things, stuff. We all have various degrees of emotional attachment.  At the outset of divorce we can be a little too hasty in discarding our old life. Until some time passes, we don’t know what these items will mean to us. What memory will they evoke or what part of ourselves will they represent. if any? If you’re not sure right now, then keep them and let some time pass before revisiting their worth.

I read somewhere and I can’t recall for the life of me where it was, that “…divorce is like a Polaroid picture. What truly happened will develop over time and then you will see.” This resonated with me for so many reasons. At ten years out, I can say I see a bigger picture than when I was going through it.

As time goes on we change our perspective, some things become clearer and other things or events blurred or softened. We can separate our divorce from our past because it doesn’t define our past anymore. We see our past as a tableau of memories rather than just our divorce. We can learn to appreciate that part of ourselves too. But when we’re in the thick of the divorce process, we view our past as something we are divorcing. It is not. We are still the same person and those memories will remain. What does this mean? It means that we may want to hold on to a few things from our married chapter so that at a later date we can revisit that part of ourselves.

The mystery is; what to keep, when everything must go? When we have to move, downsize, even remarry—everything must go or does it?

I picture Will Ferrell when I hear or see signs that say ‘everything must go’. In the film of the same name, Will played the rejected husband Nick, who also lost his job and was forced to sell everything. It was actually one of his more touching characters. There he sat in his easy chair on the lawn, in the middle of the sale, refusing to let it go. We’ve all been there with some thing. We know it’s impossible to keep it but we’re stubborn.

So, let’s say we’re ready to let some stuff go…let’s say we’ve kept a pile of sentimental things to stash away and revisit when the Polaroid picture is completely developed…at some later, unknown date. How and where do we begin? Well, I’ve made it easy for you and made a list of methods to deal with the eponymous Nick ‘everything must go’ phase of your life:

Everything Must Go Methods of Disposal

The infamous garage sale technique-proceed with caution, that’s all I’m going to say.

The donation technique-the best one of all, in my opinion but beware that although you’ve let go of your ‘stuff’ you may not be able to let go of the image of a stranger using or admiring your ‘stuff’—kinda weird.

The throw it to the curb technique-just make sure you follow your city/county regulations. No one likes the neighbor who puts stuff on the curb knowing it will not be picked up by the garbage truck. No large wedding photos here…

The give it to a friend technique-second favorite method for me. I love that you can give something precious to a friend who will appreciate it. One word of caution though; just because a friend complimented you one time on that decorative item, doesn’t mean she really liked it…

The ‘there’s no way in hell I’m parting with this’ technique-Create a box labelled just that: “No way in Hell” and keep that shit.

Finally, the ‘why have I kept this all these years? technique-don’t ask this question ever again. Use above method of choice to refrain from taking this thing with you anywhere, ever again, amen.

There comes a time in everyone’s life where we have to take stock of not only our relationships but our stuff. When or what that is, remains a personal journey, even a mystery. It’s a fact though, that divorce will hasten this need to purge. My only word of advice is wait for the Polaroid image to complete it’s development before disposing of sentimental stuff. You never know when you’ll want to revisit who you used to be…in order to see how far you’ve come.

Did you purge immediately after divorce or any other life changing event? Or are you one who keeps things, just in case?

Enjoyed this? You’ll love the book The Great Escape; A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

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20 Replies to “Everything Must Go”

  1. As you know, I’ve never gone through a divorce, but I actually go through my stuff a lot. Sort of like a purging. Get rid of the old and the things you don’t use to make room for better things. I usually like to donate what I don’t need, but now I’m putting things together to have a yard sale some time.

    1. That’s a great habit to get into, Chrys. No need for divorce to appreciate a good purge 😉 Yard sale…be prepared for super cheap people to want to pay .25 cents for your good stuff. That said, it’s a good experience all round for making a little cash and clearing out the stuff you don’t want. Good luck with it!

  2. Oh, I could write a book on how I got rid of things! But since he literally abandoned them, I didn’t feel that bad in the end. He did send money so I could mail a big suitcase of clothes at one point, and I really wanted to smear ink all over them, but I didn’t. I’ve thinned the photo albums and my Facebook posts, yet never got rid of all of the photos. I agree on not wiping out a person’s presence who played such a large role in my life. What I couldn’t sell, I gave to Goodwill. I will always remember the attendant’s look when I unloaded stuff into the wheeled cart. He said, “Uh-oh, looks like somebody is in trouble.” I responded, “You have no idea.” I regret not keeping at least one fly fishing pole since I’ve always wanted to learn, but I got good money for them. I also regret not keeping the acoustic guitar since I’ve always wanted to learn that as well. At the end of the day, I just wanted to get rid of everything. It felt good. Even know, I think about how things like how the last box of Kleenex in the pantry is one we bought together at Costco. The only sentimental thing I have left other than photos is a pink tie he wore on our cruise to the Greek Isles. He looked good in it, but my plan now is to burn it and scatter the ashes over the Lower Falls in Yellowstone, which is where we said we wanted our ashes scattered in one of us passed away. Oh, and I wrote a letter to him that I buried up on the Salmon River. Great post! It clearly has struck a chord and this is a topic I need to explore further.

    1. Hi Jeri, well, you showed some serious self restraint by sending him his clothes without ink stains! So true about keeping some photos. You will likely have an appreciation for them later and if not, you can get rid of them. That is hilarious about the goodwill attendant 😀 Burning stuff is a cathartic way to get rid of things, too. One of the rules of thumb I’ve kept in my mind is, if someone gave me a gift with great love in their heart, I may keep it even if they aren’t in my life anymore. I think you made a good decision on the fishing rods and guitar, especially if those were his hobbies because they would sit there and wait for you to ‘learn’ them and who knows, you may not get around to it. Better to invest in your own items when the time comes that you truly want to learn these things. Hope that makes sense. Writing a letter you don’t intend to ever send is also great therapy! This topic is very much a real issue with so many emotions involved. You did great in your purge, Jeri! That must have been really hard. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Hi Lisa,

    You have wonderfully merged the emotions and realities, which one has to encounter in such situations. While it may be easier to say ‘let go’ and throw away or donate all the things…memories and emotions are hard to erase as they are embedded much deeper and revisit uninvited. The psychological damage that is attached to divorce stays in the form of children. Even those who are wise enough to separate before producing trophies of so called marriage carry un unimaginable baggage, which can never be discarded. Writing about it is the best catharsis. Love and hugs dear friend. 🙂

    1. Very thought provoking, Balroop. I think we do our best to mitigate those damages but doesn’t always stick. We can’t give away our memories but we can let go of things the trigger negatives. Thanks for sharing here! 🙂

  4. This is just fantastic. I’ve never attached myself to stuff really though obviously there are things of value in my life. That said, I think it’s important to take stock of inventory when you are going through a monumental life change, and I imagine that divorce would be one of those times. Giving away to a friend is brilliant–she (he?) can grant visitation if you really need to be reunited.

    This preview — I really want to see it <3 thank you for sharing. Will Ferrell always has a piece of my heart and I'd love to see him in a serious role.

    1. Good for you, Charlotte for not holding attachment to ‘things’. Purging is definitely a necessity in times of change. That movie is probably on demand. Not sure if it’s on Netflix. It’s from 2011 and one of his best! Thanks for stopping here to chat 😊

  5. I dumped a large amount of things to the curb, and donated a few, including my wedding dress. Hey, it was mine, I could do what I wanted with it right? Wedding ring is in the bottom of some bag I lugged to or from the office I think. or maybe I tossed it too, I don’t remember.

    I am not a keeper of all things sentimental or otherwise. It just turns into stuff I’ve had to pack and move, clean, or dust behind. I’m a simple girl with all my memories of good times stocked in my head. Most of the pics we had together I can recall exactly what he said beforehand to make me or the kids look sad, and that’s not who I am anymore. Why would I want to look at those photos as reminders of sad me and sad kids? I’m good right where I am today! 🙂

    1. Hi Michelle, sounds like you had no problem letting go of stuff—less baggage, right? I also donated my wedding dress. I didn’t know what else to do with it. It was dated and would make a great Halloween costume for someone. Our daughters will want to choose their own (new) dress when that time comes. Jewelry is another tough one. It’s valuable but we don’t want to wear it. I had some thing melted down and made a gold bangle with it. Same gold, new piece without the emotional attachment. Yes, photos are funny because I recall in many, my ex was frowning, like he was mad I was taking the picture. I’ve made albums for each of the kids that Include all the family snapshots. Thanks for sharing your experience here, Michelle! Others will be inspired by your new life.

  6. How have I never heard of this movie? I love him!!
    I go through these bouts of holding onto things, and then when I let go, I royally let go! It’s somewhat amazing.
    The garage sale thing can be tough. We have local buy nothing boards on Facebook and they’re so freeing!

    1. Hey Tamara, that movie was in 2011 but not as big as some of his films. It’s one of my favourites of Will Ferrell. I’ve never heard of a buy nothing board on facebook. Sounds interesting. I definitely go through purging phases but it takes a while to let go. Stuff will sit in a pile until I make up my mind 🙂

  7. Lisa,
    Great post! I purged because the ex took most of the stuff with him. And when i merged households with my now hubby, i got rid of even more furniture, simply because of space concerns. To be truthful, I use an old bamboo spatula that recently splintered, that was from before, for cooking, and this is five years later, and i was thinking, gosh, i should probably replace this. LOL. The stuff I tend to hoard are the kids arts/creations they’ve made through the years. Ihave plastic bins for those that I ought to sort through. I weirdly don’t hang onto my own stuff, lol!
    But this is a good reminder that I’d like to do some purging for the new year.
    I love what you wrote about the past is not defined by the divorce, and the don’t divorce our past. Rather our divorce and the prior marriage is part of the tableau of experiences and stories that brought us to where we are today. Which sometimes, makes me feel like I want to take a big nap, goodness gracious that was a lot to live through. LOL.
    Love and hugs and happy holidays to you! <3

    1. That’s funny about the spatula, Jane. It’s the littlest things sometimes we keep and then wonder why. I was using cutlery for years that was a wedding gift. 9 years later, I asked myself why I continued to use it. The answer was at one time, I couldn’t just go buy new cutlery as it seemed a waste of money when this set worked perfectly well. Later though, I thought about the constant connection to my marriage…and gave it away, invested in a new set. Hoarding the kids art projects makes sense! I used to do that too. Eventually, I had to select fewer pieces to keep and toss the rest.
      Indeed, we feel during divorce that it is defining us. It isn’t until time passes that we realize it’s only a part of us. You’re still living it, Jane with co-parenting struggles. Once that settles down, you won’t need as many naps—LOL.

  8. —Lisa,
    thank you for educating me on so many things.
    I can now empathize & understand w/ others going thru divorce.
    I tell my girlfriend about your blogposts all the time.

    Luv U.

  9. Never had to choose (lucky me!) I left nearly everything behind. My ex-husband gave me back some clothes and things – I gave some away, I kept photos albums, I sold jewelry. I still wonder what to do with my wedding dress and my ring…

    I imagine it’s hard Lisa to decide what to do with stuff that most of the time is full of memories…If there are good, I guess I keep (if possible). If not, I sell or give away.
    Maybe I would just decide to sell everything and start with only brand new stuff.

    Interesting as always Lisa. Thank you.

    1. Sometimes giving away, selling stuff and starting over with all new would make sense.So long as we can afford to buy all that stuff new—LOL. It’s a tough one, knowing what is the right thing to do. Listening to our instincts will give us the answers. So, you still have your wedding dress?

  10. I know I’m late to this post Lisa but wanted to add my 2 cents. I basically downsized my entire life post divorce. Everything I own now fits into one carload. An easy move to a monastery next 🙂

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