One of the most difficult aspects of separation is dealing with the memories. I remember on my first solo grocery shopping trip, I burst into tears at the sight of the sparkling water my husband used to buy. If I couldn’t even handle the sight of an innocuous green bottle, how was I ever going to handle the places and objects that sparked real memories?
In the early months, my primary strategy was avoidance as much as possible. It wasn’t easy, though, as I lived about 6 miles from our former home and I still worked just around the corner. I secured a P.O. box in the area for that first year and I would take the most circuitous, traffic-laden route to get there so that I didn’t have to drive by my old neighborhood. Even so, I lived with constant reminders since I was so close to the crime scene.
Even while I tried to practice avoidance with the everyday reminders, I sought to consciously layer memories of the big things, I fought to take back psychic possession of certain locations or activities that he and I had done together.I staked my claim on those memories I refused to let him have them. By revisited with others and layering memories, I could once again look at those places with fondness.
It was a surreal time. I dragged city-loving friends on hikes through the mountains. I faced the place in the airport where I last touched my ex with a date, on our way to see the Smithsonian. I went with groups of friends to the restaurant where he and I ate weekly.
At first, this layering was very deliberate, intentional. Over time, I found that it became second nature, even to the point of applying a second layer without thought. Much as one does with a sweater when the wind bites a bit too much.
23 thoughts on “Layering Isn’t Just for Sweaters”
Yep, I had to move cross country. Couldn’t take being in an area that I absolutely loved. Been 2 years away. I might go back this summer. I need to go back for a few weeks to do some things. It will a head rush when I go.
LOL at you dragging your city friends into the mountains.
I guess one of the reasons I have not dated yet is that I just don’t want to face those emotions. Yet.
Thanks Lisa! 😀
I almost moved across the country, but I settled for 30 miles away. I go back to my old area of town every couple months to visit friends. This past visit (two years since I moved from the area), was the first where I didn’t have a head rush. Welcome relief.
I have same problem, a song, food, clothes, they all bring memories of him. Its been 17 months since he walked out. I am stuck in a hole. I find no joy
in anything. Going to a concert will have me crying. When does the hurt stop?
I don’t know if the pain ever completely goes away, but the texture and intensity of it changes. It becomes less of a stab in the gut, raw and burning, and more of the rub of a familiar shoe. From my experience, the areas where I consciously layered brought less pain over time than those I neglected. Go to the concert. Cry. Go again. Cry a little less. Eventually, the tears will be in check and you might not even realize until after that you never cried or thought of him.
Decide which activities and locations brought you the most joy independent of him and work to reclaim those first. It doesn’t happen automatically; you have to make it happen and chose not to live in that hole.
I guess my problem is I can’t see the forest from the trees. My head says he isn’t worth a tear, but my heart…. well it cries buckets.
@ Michelle. I understand. In 2010, I was crying, feeling horrible, so concerned about my exwife, so worrried about her, AND SHE WAS GETTING MARRIED AT THE TIME! LOL So. Yeah, I understand. The whole bonding thing really sucks, at times like divorce.
Keep in mind, I’m a guy, so let’s just forget I said I was crying, etc.
Now for some manly conversation…
How ’bout those Knicks? (spits on the floor, all tough and manly like) 😛
Time for me to go kill something and eat it raw. Or maybe a protein shake instead. Bye!
I think we need more men to admit to crying:) Thanks for being brave and honest!
Rascalfoxx, thanks for the laugh. I personally think it takes a real man to show emotion. As for basketball, well the knicks are okay, will always love Micahel Jordan. But for me I LOVE football. Go Ravens!!!
My boyfriend likes you already; he’s a diehard Ravens fan and has turned me into one too:)
Sometimes the heart is the first to get the message and the last to let it go.
I got divorced in 2004; from a hard 19 year marriage. Devastated me.
Remarried in 2005, divorced in 2009, final Feb 2010. Devastated me.
Here’s oe of the things that helped me work thru it.
Almost everything reminded me of her.
So I journaled a LOT. Hours every day. After several months, I began to think I would be journaling for 2-5 hours a day the rest of my life. Every feeling and thought, I typed out.
One day I realized that certain songs were triggering memories, blasting emotional holes through me.
So I journaled about those. Then I realized that as long as something bothered me that I would channel those feelings into my writing.
Then I intentionally listened to songs that would set me off and journal about whatever came to mind.
One of the key discoveries for me was changing the settings on Word so that the files were encrypted and required a password for access. From that day on, I journaled without restraint…ALL of the anger and resentment and bad feelings were expressed without restraint…it was constructive. Cathartic perhaps, not sure.
Open Office’s Write program is free and even better than Word; it has encryption and password capability too. I use it now instead. It was an easy transition.
So instead of avoiding the feelings, hoping they would go away, I embraced them, expressed them, processed them, and desensitized myself to them. I took away their power by facing them and putting them in front of me in writing, and once reduced to a small hill of words, said “Forget you” and started a new file. After a couple of years of writing intensely, I began to lack the urgency to write, I was no longer harrowed up by the memories. I could still remember in my mind but my body was no longer wracked by the intense pain that had previously accompanied those memories.
I was free. Truly free. What’s really interesting is that the type of woman I am looking for now is very different from before. It has been good to wait even though I have been very lonely.
Thank you for the comments. Until this website, I felt like I was the only one going through it. I had almost 26 years in and one day he called, said lets go out to eat. I came home to shower and his things were missing. He was going to tell me over dinner in a public place! He said there was no one else but he was done. Found out much later that after we got back from our 25th anniversary trip that he started cheating. He was with woman for about 9 months before he left. Our daughter was in and out of the hospital and while I was with her he was with other woman.
I thought I was the only one too when it happened to me. I’m glad you now know that you are not alone.
Writing has amazing power to help us heal. It gives distance and perspective. It helps us face emotions that are too ugly to share any other way. It has a knack for silencing the inner critic and letting the hidden face the light of day. It really doesn’t matter what becomes of the writing; it’s the act that contains the medicine for what ails us.
I found that volunteering somewhere got me outside of myself and helped a lot.
Thanks! Learning to get out. Got a gym membership and thinking about doing a half marathon!
That sounds awesome! A half marathon was my first ever race and only a dew months after my husband left. It felt amazing to tackle a manageable goal at the time.
Someone mentioned the desirability of a “Ronald McDonald house” for recently separated or divorced people. Great idea.
I would have loved to be able to have NSA conversations, just to talk with someone.
That would have helped, I think. Maybe not.
Dang, am I replying to myself? LOL
Was watching Today show, and a couple weeks ago they had a Divorce Conference in New York City, some woman decided that people divorcing needed
advice and help. They had massages and make overs, also seminars on how to move on. It was a great idea, just couldn’t go.
You mean this? 🙂 I like the comment suggested a “rent a mom” too.
ahhh. so it was You!
as to ‘rent a mom’ — i used to joke with my former wife that we needed a mom to do things for us. she agreed.
its a great idea.
hmmm. thought just came to mind about a ‘rent a wife’
i guess thats already cough cough a profession. ok, back to work for me. 😀