The things we leave behind; there are so many. Some we leave happily by choice and others because we simply have to.
In 2006 I left the home that I raised my children in. I had remained in an abusive marriage far too long, but experienced mixed emotions about leaving. On one hand, I was desperate to get away from an alcoholic husband. On the other, I was leaving 18 years worth of memories behind. A lot of those memories were awful, but the ones of my kids growing up were priceless and far outnumbered the bad ones.
I knew for a long time that day would come, but nothing prepares you for the flood of emotions. Despite believing that it was the only healthy option left, I continued to second guess myself. I was anxious to make a fresh start, but terrified of the unknown. I knew that while familiar things can seem comforting, they can still be very bad choices.
There were so many things I wanted to take, but couldn’t. The roll top desk that we bought early in the marriage, the bookcase from my mother-in-law that housed my favorite stories, and the lighted Christmas village from my goddaughter. These were only a few items of a very long list.
Then there was the house itself. We worked long hours to get it ready and I invested my heart in preparing a nice home for my kids. My boys were one and three years old and my daughter wasn’t born yet. The marriage was already in trouble and I foolishly believed a new house would provide a new start. Soon after moving in I realized this was pure fantasy.
After my departure, I managed to live without the house and all the things in it. I went on to make a new home that I grew to love, because it was truly mine and I found real peace there. However, it wasn’t until years later that I understood the connection to all the things I left behind.
Every item, large and small, had a memory attached to it.
They reminded me of a person, a place, or a recollection that had value for me. All these things together represented my past; my history.
Despite the bitter circumstances of my exit, I realized something important: we take our memories with us. Even though they’re often attached to inanimate objects, the invisible string that connects them is…well…invisible. It only exists in our minds, just like the memory. Although I no longer had these things in my possession, I could still feel the positive emotions they embody.
Now, when I drive past my old house, I don’t feel the intense sadness and loss that I did in the beginning. It’s just another home in that particular neighborhood. This change was possible because I took the happy memories with me and left the rest behind.