the ex-husband-orcism

Last weekend, I invited girlfriends over to help me perform an exorcism:  the exorcism of my ex husband’s belongings, photos, spirit and trappings of our married life from my boudoir and other areas of the house.

I had long been thinking about the idea of a cleansing or a celebration, and I never felt quite certain about what was appropriate or acceptable. My plan took on definition for two reasons:

  • A girlfriend gently told me that, while I clearly cherished my “mother” identity, it didn’t belong in my bedroom. Every other room in our home is family friendly; my room should be a personal sanctuary, a child-free zone. The family photos and stuffed animals would have to go.
  • With each passing week that I failed to tackle the project of cleaning and re-organizing the basement, I knew that I was experiencing some major resistance to dealing with it all. This was not going to be an easy job for me.

I was going to have to call in some reinforcements. And I would need them to be both relentless and brutally honest. After all, my closet (and outdated wardrobe) was part of my bedroom.

I invited a bunch of fun girls, knowing that only a handful could or would show up — this sort of thing is not for everyone. In one day, what we could accomplish would be limited, so I prioritized:

  • Rearrange and organize my bedroom and closet
  • Organize the children’s artwork (my sister, the art major, would be assigned ultimate judge of what I should keep, purging the rest)
  • Begin the impossible task of cleaning the basement

I set out a spread of beverages and snacks — brie, hummos and the like — and the girls arrived in early afternoon. We began by moving furniture and de-cluttering in my room. Down came the belly cast from my second pregnancy, out went the family photos, and in came the “welcome to my boudoir” energy. Any trinkets or baubles that I’d received as gifts from my ex went into the garbage. After the momentary feeling of guilt that this might be appreciated by someone else, I willingly, gladly let go.

With a team of supporters around me, it was easy to enjoy the feeling of liberation that letting go, releasing what no longer served me, could provide. Sure, there were a few moments of compromise, a few items that, for sentimental reasons, I was not ready to let go. But mostly, perhaps because I was being watched, it was easy to say no to that oh-so-tartish Roxy tee shirt, a circa 1988 Benetton and a Coogi sweater (yeah, embarrassing) that I’d purchased while vacationing in Sydney with a boyfriend in 1996. What was I thinking, holding onto these for so long? Even after the girls left, I purged books and jewelry with glee.

We never got as far as the basement, but I now feel unstuck, as though the task might be something I could accomplish, little by little, on my own. And I think the biggest surprise to me was how easy it actually was. I thought I might have some bigger moments of resistance or feeling really emotional, maybe even tears. But there were none. It was fun, even empowering!

When the children returned from their weekend with their father, they were energized and began cleaning their own room. We’re on nine large bags for charitable donations and counting.

Sage smudge yet to come.

3 thoughts on “the ex-husband-orcism

  1. HURRAY for you and your purged zones! So glad to hear when people re-evaluate their spaces and notice that there are things that we think should be there but should have been given up years ago… you freakin’ rock….well except for the sweater…come on benetton? for real? I’m surprised it didn’t have a swatch watch attached to it ms. 80’s…


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