There will come a time, after separating that you may vacate the marital home. This time is coming up for me. I am moving in one month, and this is forcing me to figure out what to do with all of the memories I have piled face down in the dark recesses of my home.
Minimalism is my mantra. I don’t like to have stuff around the house that I am not using or I don’t enjoy. My family knows that if they leave something on the kitchen counter, it might get thrown out in one of my cleaning storms. When I receive something that is of no use to me, I pass it forward to someone who will enjoy it.
But what are you supposed to do with the photos and memories from a lifetime passed? Is there a recommended protocol for cleaning house after divorce?
Out of sight, out of mind
That being said, I found myself completely confused during my prolonged 4 year separation and divorce battle about what to do with family portraits and my wedding Ketuba (traditional jewish wedding contract). I knew I didn’t want them on the wall, but I was unsure about where they should go. My temporary solution was to tuck them under the hanging clothes in the guest bedroom.
This was an excellent solution for the last 6 years. I completely forgot they existed until I began the process of decluttering in preparation to sell my house. Suddenly I had some decisions to make.
Was it ever real?
Those of you who are familiar with my outrageously litigious and vicious battle may be able to relate to what I am about to say. As I looked at the professional 16x 20 portrait, of myself, my ex husband, his two kids from his first marriage and our infant son, I felt like it never really happened. I could not bring myself to that moment where we were a family. I have come so far from that place it is like it was never actually real. It could have been 5 strangers in that portrait staring back at me.
The decision to trash it
I knew my son would not want this portrait. His feelings of betrayal and abandonment run deep. I didn’t want it either. It represented a time in our past that was so fraught with deception, antagonism and pain. I know there were moments of bliss, but the entire 14 years feels like an altered reality.
I considered the expensive frame. Perhaps it should be salvaged. Nah. I brought the portrait to the dumpster in my parents condo and I hurled it in. Finito. Chapter finished. Movie complete. Exit stage left.
There is no right or wrong way for cleaning house after divorce. Only the way that feels best for you.