The Pictures in the Back of the Closet

This April will mark two years since my longest-term relationship and engagement ended. At the time I would have acknowledged that I was profoundly sad and angry. Several months later, I can also say I wasn’t quite in my right mind.

I busy myself with projects pretty religiously. Over the holidays and New Year’s break – in Miami and LA – I went on a closet and drawer blitz. The places I typically avoid because they’re completely unruly and layered with history. I know my closets, in particular, are special. I love things because they remind me of time, place and people. Through the years, however, (and as a healthy byproduct of moving from a house to an apartment) I’ve pared down everything I ever owned significantly. I’ve had a lot of things in my life.

During “the purge”, I found a few things I don’t ever remember stashing away: stacks of pictures, cards and notes, collages still in frames. All of my ex, things we did, and places we went. They were in bins and boxes – shoved away in the farthest reaches of my closets. On two different coasts.

I don’t remember putting any of these things anywhere; at some point, they were just out of my view.

Almost two years ago, the priority was making the things – the memories – disappear. I can only guess that I wasn’t fully ready to trash them. In the moment, I was sad and pissed, but I was also in shock and in mourning. The person I loved most in life and alongside my family was gone.
The pictures living in the back of the closet meant that he was still there, in however a small and concealed way.

It’s just so weird. I didn’t foresee any type of reconciliation (…a woman scorned), yet I obviously needed something to hold onto. My brain (and my hands, as minions) decided: “ok, we are going to shove every last piece of him out of existence”. In my room, in my office, at home in Miami… in those spaces, I uncovered the work of someone who was (at least temporarily) unhinged. In some ways, it’s scary; in other ways it illuminates the truth of sadness. The brain and heart deal with loss in all kinds of ways. Even if we can’t still understand them fully in hindsight, they’re performing some kind of protection function in the moment.

In my two-week fit of purging into 2015, everything is now gone. In the garbage. My clearer eyes now see that life as a million years away. There is/was a tinge of sadness in the permanence of the goodbye, but the prevailing emotion and priority now is complete happiness. To completely move forward, all of those things – from all of their hiding places – had to go. Now I will go too.

And be free.


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