The Accounting of Loss

Lean accounting

I’m a numbers girl. I like to quantify things. I enjoy manipulating variables until I arrive at the security of the right answer. So, when I went to play a favorite album on my iTunes yesterday and my ex’s email popped up with a prompt for an unknown password (his computer was the main one and so all iTunes purchases and downloads were routed through his machine), I wanted to pick up a red pen and add “iTunes library” to the mental ledger that catalogued all of the losses from the divorce. Its entry would reflect the dollar value of replacing all of the shared library that now only accessible by him. It would not be a lonely entry; it would join hundreds of other losses, both tangible and intangible, that I incurred with that initial text.

Fuming, I settled on another album, pressed play, and looked up to resume work on formatting the book (note to self – never, and I mean never, take a job that includes editing or formatting!). My eye caught a note that I have posted above my computer:


-great relationship

-awesome family & friends

-good job and promising additional career

-health and love of working out

-awesome pets

-roof over my head in a city I love

-progress beyond imagined

-learning to let go of fear

-being able to help others heal

-he didn’t take my life

Obviously, that list would be recorded in black in the assets column of my mental ledger. But what dollar amount would I assign to each item? How could I even begin to quantify those things that are so dear? I can’t. There are some things that go far beyond an analytical list.

I think it’s time to retire the ledger and to become lax in my accounting, at least that done in the red. I think I’ll choose to count my blessings rather than enumerate my losses.

Thank you for sharing!

18 thoughts on “The Accounting of Loss

  1. You are SO smart!

    Long ago, when we were losing so many, so fast; we adopted the expression “Count the living, not the dead.”

    Your Gratitude poster on your wall does that well. Kudos to you. 😀

    Nowadays, as I ‘lose’ people in other ways, the expression holds true, perhaps more than ever.

    In a very real way, I lost a beloved wife to her mental illness; although one could conjecture that I never actually had her.

    But my reality is that I am free to love fully, now that she is gone. Gone. Sometimes that’s a very good word! 😀

  2. I look forward to the time when I can stop adding to the red ledger, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m not happy about it but I’m still at the point where I practically look for things to add to my red.

    How long does it take to stop doing dumb shit like looking through a stray electronic device, combing through the emails from the past? Why the hell do I do this? It sure isn’t healthy.

    Dont get me wrong, there are things in the black ledger as well. Lots of them actually. I think I will start a physical, portable, hard copy of the “black” so I always have it with me, to pull out and refer to when I need it. I should probably do this before today’s meeting with the lawyers…

    1. That’s actually similar to one of the first survival skills I learned as a teacher. I keep a large envelope in my classroom with positive notes and pictures from kids over the years. On those hard days when I fee like I can’t take any more, I take out my envelope, read, and smile. Sometimes in full view of the class that is causing me grief. Tangible reminders are a great thing!

      1. Lawyers went fairly well. I think she finally realizes that I’m not going to roll over and beg in terms of support payments and division of assets. Methinks this came as a bit of a shock.

  3. I find myself focusing on the figures in red from time to time. But every day I am reminded and grateful for the things I have gained from not being in that relationship anymore! And that will always outweigh those numbers in red! 🙂

    1. Sounds healthy! I think we need to acknowledge the red and accept that sometimes it will catch our gaze but we do not have to allow our eyes to settle there.

  4. This post hit close to home. I also lost all of my itunes library when my ex walked out on me. But, I am also learning that I am gaining some significant assets in being out of the relationship. Still grieving, for sure, but keep reminding myself of the good things.

    1. I received innocent spouse relief from the IRS. Think we can get Apple to offer something similar for iTunes? 🙂
      Keep focusing on you assets – they will grow over time while the losses begin to fade.

  5. mine didnt take my itunes library he was so dumb that i had to manage all his online stuff including emails, but somehow he managed to troll the dating and porn sites though. He never had a facebook profile,another mark of a psycho secretive. Thats a blessing for me,but a danger for his future victims, if you Google him nothing comes up his name is too common. They cost us eveything, but Like you, I escaped with my life and started over, that is the greatest satisfaction, in a decade past of being deprived of any. There are no answers just a tangled ball of wool, it is our humaness that keeps us searching for motives and meaning, they are absent of any meaning.

    1. You are so right with your apt description of a tangled ball of wool. It is so easy to worry at it fruitlessly, unraveling the same thread only to end up back at the start. The ball of wool only brings pain and confusion but gratitude can help set us free. Let’s make the best of those lives we have:)

  6. Gratitude is a powerful thing. Makes us stronger. Regret is corrosive and weakens us.

    Good idea to retire that ledger.

    Thanks for continuing to share your struggles in such an honest and open way. It is a gift to all of us.


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