Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Finding of the Lost

The events of the past year have brought me to the place where selling my home has become inevitable. I have not been, nor am I even now, happy about feeling as though I have to do it. I have made it as much of a proactive and healthy decision as possible, and my family and friends have been wonderfully supportive and helpful. The task of cleaning out my house to get ready for sale, turned out to be a monster more ferocious than I initially imagined.  Still, the process belongs to no one but me, and I am the one who has to muddle through and make some sense of what goes along with it.

I have been here for nearly eight years. I bought this house after my divorce from my children's father, my husband for nearly twenty years.  In all that time quite a bit of property came into this house and not so much went out. This deck was stacked against me in all directions. It is not that I felt particularly attached to any of these fine items that had residence here, its just that with raising my children, being a girlfriend, then wife, and  building my career and furthering my education I really did not get around to thinking much about what to do with the things in my house.  Because of this, it has now become the order of each day, to go room to room, corner to corner, and into each closet and crawl space, evaluating and examining and sorting what will stay and what will go, some from just my home, and some from my life completely.

I learned early on in this project that there are all kinds of feelings and emotions tied up in the things we keep so I am writing about that and the process of  discovering, thinking, deciding and in lots of cases letting go. It seemed a perfect time to do this once, living in the moment of the thing in my hands, experiencing all it represents then deciding its fate.  

It seems as though this should be a straightforward endeavor, but in reality it is not. For me, nearly each thing I laid my hand on, conjured up a memory or a feeling and presented me with the challenge of having to evaluate it and decide. I chose that not only would I decide IF something could stay or not but WHERE it would be placed and WHY.  It made sense to begin with the big items and then move to the smaller ones.  Since work was to be done in my basement, I began there, purposing to work my way upward. One of the biggest things in the room was my son's Weider Gym rack.

It looked a bit like this one, and was great fun on more than one level of use, for a few years. As happens with young people, they grow, and change and this piece of equipment did not seem to pass the test of time so it was abandoned and morphed into a lovely laundry rack/ clothes closet. I was remembering fondly how difficult it was to get it in the house when I bought it. My former husband's son brought it in the house alongside his father piece by piece. I remember the grown-man boy and his wife working so well together to assemble it for my son. I remembered making dinner for them and their three children who had become accustomed to spending time in my home back then. Watching it come down was bittersweet in more than one way for me, however I admit now that I am delighted that it no longer sits there. I believe it was recycled and that gratifies me because its parts need a new life and less useless purpose.

Next there were two large pieces of equipment that I bought for my rehabilitation shortly after my accident in 2004. Because my mobility was challenged it was easier for me to accomplish my required activities at home. I would never have considered letting them go until my father pointed out that I had come a long way and certainly did not need to hide in the cellar anymore to continue to progress. He also pointed out that there was no real resale value to them.  Before long people who care about me were volunteering to help me stay safe as I worked out so I called back the junk man and off they went. It felt good to see them go out. It felt good to know that I did not need them anymore and that no one but me understands fully the work it took for me to  graduate from them.   It feels good to move forward towards a positive new life.  I believe they will be donated to charity and  hopefully be used to rehabilitate someone less fortunate. I like that.                                     
It amazes me that there was so much junk in my basement. I had fun tossing most of it in a big barrel. I could not even list it off now, but I know I threw away and donated away items in equal measure. I feel good about this. 

One of the hardest things I parted with was the children's table and chairs that my former husband left in my home after he decided that being a husband was too difficult for him and he departed. I was not given one good reason for being abandoned, nor was I really given a choice. Someone else had entered his life to be his confidant, confessor and lover and while not a legitimate nor realistic relationship, this woman made herself available for and enabled him to engage in a closeness with her while he remained living in my house and contributing next to nothing to the running of it.   He cut me out of his life equation with no notice or fault. His connection to her with internet and phone, at that early time all paid for and owned by me, went on behind my back while I foolishly thought that if I remained supportive he would live up to his vows of marriage just a few months before and come back to me. I carried guilt for many months thinking that somehow I was to blame for him emotionally abandoning me on our wedding night and never affecting with me again until much later. For months when I looked at the little table and its two chairs  I felt connected and somehow still trusted but really it was wrong of him to abandon it there just as he had abandoned and split apart our blended family scattering relationships in all directions with a cavalier and selfish whim.  Months later he drew me back in close to him, while confused in his thought processes I reveled in the feelings that flooded back to me until he confessed his confusion over who he really wanted and needed in his life. There was chaos and anger and for me a deeply shocking and emotionally devestating physiologic event. It brought me to my knees and nearly undid me completely, the grief at the loss of what had been conceived in what I believed to be love which in reality was the confusion of two very troubled hearts. As I looked at that table and chairs I knew what I had to do.  I packed it up in my car, brought to the park where he met me, stood in front of him, gathered up my courage and told him the details of what we had made together which I had to suffer the loss of on my own. That is why I cannot treasure that table and chairs anymore. That is why I could not keep them safe for him. He did not keep me safe as he promised me he would. It was his failure and not mine. Had I kept them I would just repeatedly see what was not meant to be or happen, who was swept away in the eleventh hour of our marriage as forgotten as his vows, and that is just too much for me to choose to live with.       


Looking around my basement, standing barefooted on brand new carpeting, and looking at the newness and freshness of the room once dim and dark and loaded with remnants of my past life, I cannot help but remind myself of who and where I was and who and where I am now. The floor is new, and the walls are fresh and there is more light in the space than ever before. Looking around there is nothing but potential, promise and the enticement of an exciting future full of possibilities. I stand strong in the place where just a few years ago I struggled to stand at all,  and I smile confidently knowing that for me forward is a one way road, and while I might take look back a bit now and then I will not turn back and abandon the journey laid out ahead of me. Still for a little bit of time nearly every day I think about who might have been, wondering if God somehow works it out so that one day I can see which twinkling star was given to me, if only for that moment, that gave me that delicious feeling just one more time again, of who I know myself to be. I am Mary, blessed, mother of John and Jacqueline, equally blessed and we are our family.   


  1. And you are loved and welcomed home with open arms!! You are an amazing woman Mary - although your past isn't a fairy tale life you have done some wonderful things. New beginnings await you and I am so happy that I am going to part of that!!

  2. No matter what Mary, consider yourself loved and believed in by me. You are an amazing woman who has triumphed over so much and came out stronger and wiser than ever. So great to see you embark on a great new chapter in your life.