When my family lost someone, we would have to prepare the house for mourning. We would cook a condolence meal, light candles, and cover every mirror in the house. Though there are some esoteric reasons, covering the mirrors and keeping the place dark is a good way to limit the bereaved from being confronted with the reality of their loss. Outside of the practicality of it, there’s a solace in the ritual of preparing the home.
I prepare my home after I’ve lost a relationship too.
There’s a solace in the ritual.
I start with the stuff. As the great millennial parody boy bad, 2Gether, taught us; the hardest part of breaking up is getting back your stuff. While scouring my apartment to stuff a box with their toothbrush, books, and extra butt plugs can be emotionally draining; it’s beneficial on a number of levels. Firstly, it’s just plain good karma to return someone’s property. On the other end, it’s hard to move on when your place is littered with memories.
After I’m done packing the severance package I move on to the the items that I can’t give back, but can’t have around either. Old presents, pictures of us, any item whose existence facilitates their memory gets reconsidered.
Some items I throw away and it is very liberating. I had a partner once who learned to knit and made me a scarf one year. But she didn’t know a lot about yarn, so she made it out of mohair (read: the itchiest fucking yarn on the market). And I spent a the rest of our relationship getting strangled by that uncomfortable rag because it was a gift from the woman I love. After we called it quits, I pitched that shit on a bonfire like I was casting off shackles.
While it might be beneficial to throw away many of these items, some may have become an integral part of your life. If they bought you that copy of Halo that you and your friends are always playing, you can let the memories that you have (and will) make with these items eclipse the previous emotion.
There are some items that fall between these two categories, though. Not useless enough to discard, not useful enough to be worth overcoming the feelings of loss; I’ll mull over these items the hardest. The Rolling Stones record he got me that we used to play and snog like teenagers until the needle scuffed the end of the record but we were too busy slobbering each other to go flip the vinyl; what do I do with that? The aneros prostate stimulator that I only ever let her use on me? The DVD box sets of Seinfeld that we used to stay up late watching?
Stuff like this, I pack away. Like a time capsule. I put them in the crawlspace and I wait until I start thinking about them and wanting them enough to pull them out.
I know I’ll be ready to think about them again, just not yet.
And there’s a solace in the ritual.