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In Need Of Some Practical Advice

I have a question for you, well, several actually. It concerns the flotsam of our relationship, you know, the stuff left behind. I would appreciate it if you could share with me how you have managed to so deftly and effortlessly dispose of it all. I have quite a formidable pile over here and I seem to be at a loss as to how to handle it. I figured you’d know what to do, as so much of what I’ve got, you had at one time too. Please help me.

It started with a dress, a sundress I bought at your urging. When I saw that thing hanging in the store my eyes lit up. It was not anything I ever would have bought for myself but I knew it would make you happy and it did. You would ask me to twirl like a child and I would dance and you would look at me admiringly and it was fun because you made me feel attractive and young and desirable in a way that was foreign to me until you came into my life. I have many dresses like that one, and a rather large lingerie drawer, filled to capacity, all bought for your pleasure and because I felt pretty in them, and ultimately I felt loved when I wore it all. I have a closet and dresser full at this point. They all still fit but I cannot wear them because they remind me of you, of the joy I felt. What should I do with them, a tag sale perhaps? Maybe offer them to the consignment shop? Or should I put them all in a large garbage bag and just put them out with the trash? Don’t know. It is a dilemma. 
 
I have a cigar box filled with cards and notes, all saying “I love you” and dotted with little xx’s and oo’s, things I’ve cherished now for years. What does one do with the pictures, and the handwritten, tearstained keepsakes when the sentiment no longer applies? Do people burn them; sacrifice them to the god of lost love and unbearable heartache? Is there such a god that can offer redemption, a baptism of sorts so that I can wash it all away and start anew, my heart open to love and a rejuvenated life view? What did you do? You had pictures of me, things I had given you over the years. How did you dispose of them? I need to know.
 
How about computer stuff? I for one have quite a treasure trove of things shared, emails…years of emails, and pictures so many that I believe I am pushing my storage capacity limit. At one time you had even more than me as I had deleted some along the way and you had not. It is mostly the pictures that hurt, snapshots of happier times. I was quick with the camera—even provided you with your cherished Facebook photo; and while we’re on the subject, what to do with all the naked stuff? I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still get me aroused, so it has value, but alas, mostly it just makes me cry. Maybe you have it all in a file somewhere, never to be opened again. That is convenient, and practical. Maybe someday when you are gone someone will open it and they will ask themselves what possible relevance this woman could have had in your life. Maybe it will be like a mystery, an unsolved mystery, but since there are no pictures of the two of us together in existence they will never be able to figure it out, unless I outlive you—then I will tell them everything if I am ever asked. I will say, “For a long while there he loved me and I loved him and it was passionate and wonderful. And then he didn’t anymore. End of story.” 
 
I saved the hardest for last; it troubles me the most I’m sad to say, but I am sincere with my inquiry. How do you manage, you the one wholly incapable of compartmentalizing, how do you manage the memories? Are they in a special file as well? Are they packed up there in your hippocampus, stored away as stuff in the attic would be, forgotten? If you could give me some tips as far as this is concerned I’d say we could just forget all the other stuff I brought up here, as it would all pretty much be moot if I could manage the memory part.
 
I remember lying with you, the feel of you, kissing you, being held by you, I would pull away after a moment and you would grab me back, not wanting to let go. I remember that, how you would enfold me in your jacket, clinging to me, making me feel safe and so loved. We would stand there long after our first attempt at parting, not wanting to separate. No one has ever hugged me like that. You made even the mundane special, and I cannot forget it, how loved I felt.
 
I can remember riding with you, holding hands, toasting, laughing, singing, sharing lyrics, you made it all fun for me, and I tried my best to offer the same for you, often dropping everything at the sound of your voice, offering you the best of me, the best that I could muster, all in an effort to make you smile, to make you happy. When you do all those things with someone else, do the memories of me ever break through? They do for me. What advice do you have for me? How do I make it stop?
 
My soul is so infused with pain at this point that I don’t know if I can call it love, but there is this thing, this thing that won’t let go of me, a tugging, a nagging ache, and it is in my bones. And there are echoes in my head. You said to me “You are the love of my life. I love everything about you. All of my other relationships pale in comparison. You are my heart’s desire. You are my future. Someday it will not be like this. Someday we will be free to love one another.” And I said, “I will wait, because I love you.”
So I waited, because you were so convincing you made me believe you. But you never came back to me. I’ve stopped waiting, but as for all the rest of it, what do I do with it all? It is cluttering up my life and I need to straighten it all out. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
How did you do it? 
Quintesse Quintesse 46-50, F 48 Responses Jul 16, 2012

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That is good. It is not so much that you "get over" the pain--you just learn to live with it always being there. You learn to compensate for it, you watch out for the pitfalls, avoid the triggers etc. Time and new experiences help, your'e right. Thank you for your thoughtful, compassionate response--then and now.

I remember now...reading this and thinking how I felt the days, weeks, and even years later....when that one special person in my life was suddenly absent in my evreyday life...but not in my every thought, even when I just simply close my eyes for just a moment...the longing for and the pain...I knew was something I would have to get used to...and didn't know how to....as I've said before to others, (with my own stupid advice), it's an accumulative process that only "time" can truly heal...before "happiness opens its door" for us...but it will...somehow....jb....

After I wrote this story I went AWOL for a while, sorting it all out. I want to thank the people who read stuff like this and try sincerely to say thoughtful and kind and encouraging things. It really does help.
For all my carrying on about what to do with everything, I decided to do nothing. I figured that it would all work itself out in time. I am not a vindictive person and I realized that taking my pain out on material things that I cherished was not practical and not healthy either. It would have been like taking revenge on myself, and I would have been left with ashes, and pieces of the very things that once made me feel whole and happy.
So I did nothing.
I worked on letting love "in" as opposed to letting anger and pain "out". It seems to have worked. I am in a much better emotional state then when I wrote this, but I thank everyone who reached out to me with advice and genuine concern. I touched me. Still does. Thank you everyone who responded to this.

One day, long after you're past this pain, you'll revisit these great memories during a time of deep despair...suddenly you won't feel worthless/hopeless at all...

think Quercus is right time is the healer,clothes well charity shops can make use,letters,E-mails store for while but don't do anything hasty and things will work out!

Thanks Ricky. You know how they say you should never make any decisions when you are grieving? Well, that is what this is, so I have decided to just continue doing nothing for the time being. I can always throw things away, but I don't want to right now because I may regret it at some point. This has turned out to be a tortuous time of my life but it was also blissful and joyful for a while as well. <br />
Not only that, it was defining on top of everything else; I learned a lot about myself, what I was capable of. I learned how to love and I got to feel what it felt like to be loved for a while. I may be having a difficult time processing all of this emotion but I will be stronger someday as a result. Thanks for understanding and for sharing. None of this easy, but it helps to know that I am not alone. Thanks again.

I'm so sorry that you have to go through so much pain! (((Hugs)))<br />
I kept all love letters and gifts. It still makes me sad after all these years but I read them from time to time.

nwtrdr33--Thank you very much for your comment. It's official, my decision; I will pack it all away and put it somewhere for another day. It is not at all in my nature to destroy something that represents a part of who I am, something that represents a tortuous but also incredibly beautiful time of my life, despite the pain it gives me right now.<br />
I will take your advice, learn from your experience and I will hold on to the memories as the remnants of them may someday feel like a gift instead of instruments of torture as they are now.Thank you for sharing your story. I know it could not have been easy for you to write. You touched me. Thank you again.

For me I wish I had never gotten rid of anything.I wish i had pics,and letters,and cards that were given to me.One day it will be a nice thing to have to reflect on my life.I know it hurts now but years and years from now the pain will be gone and then it will just be memories you are able to reflect on.<br />
I throw away stuff in times of hurt and anger but the reality is I wish I never did.If you keep most of the stuff you will be glad you you 20,30 or more years from now.Talked w/many people that wish they could go back and read some from 1971 or 1984 or sometime back then when they were 25 yrs old and were dating so &amp; so.<br />
Hang in there the pain subsides and you do move on but once you get rid of everything it is gone for good.I hope you heal and enjoy life soon.Thanks for sharing take care.

Ven, I am gratified to read your comment, about the saving. It does all serve a purpose I think. While I can understand your wife's jealousy to an extent, what I am getting from you is that the remembering, the evidence of your past is relevant, it is a part of who you are, or were. And being able to look back at who you were is valuable, as you can then compare it with who you have become. Even revisiting the pain (or in your case foolishness, as you say) is okay I think as the pain itself is a part of you as well. <br />
Thanks a lot for your thoughtful response. It is great, and you have given me more to think about.

Dinah, Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment You are very intuitive. I am a pretty passive person when it comes to stuff like this, and you are right also when you say that destruction would be counterproductive, and not in my nature at all. <br />
I know that what we shared, when we shared it, was beautiful. He knows it too. I will never know why he walked away from me, but I can guess. In any case all I have now are the memories, and to attempt to destroy them would tarnish them, and I don't want to do that.<br />
<br />
My friends here have suggested that in time it won't hurt as much and that I will be able to look at these things and remember it all and smile. I want to believe that they are right, because time spent in love is never wasted time, and time spent remembering, as long as it does not cripple you, is not wasted either. Someday maybe it will not cripple me, maybe it will remind me that I was once loved. That is nice. <br />
All of this is very cathartic for me. Your comment today helped me. Thank you very much for seeing through what I wrote, for seeing into my heart, and for recognizing that thing about me that I was trying to convey--that just putting the rhetorical question out there was itself an attempt at healing. It will come in time. Thanks again.

I took the liberty of looking at some of your photographs ( I hope that is not too forward ), and noticed you have a beautiful dog. I have always found, when I am in pain, that the unconditional love provided by animals is healing. They keep us company without words, yet sing to our hearts. I don't understand it, but I know they help us heal.

Pain is part of life, unfortunately, but so is joy. Do not forget to look into the light, and to treasure all the wonderful memories as you travel through your days.

I hope you are healing. You are clearly very gently.

The pictures are there because I like to share myself here and I have nothing to hide. I appreciate you taking the time to look at them. Her name is Dakota and she is my constant companion. I am way ahead of you, haha. She feels my pain, smartest dog I've ever had. She loves me and I love her--now that I can count on.

Your pervasive gentleness is evident in the tender way you describe your love. To summon hate and anger to overwrite the wonderful memories you cherish seems unlike you, and I suspect would be counterproductive for you in the long run. <br />
<br />
Perhaps putting away the flotsam in a box that you may revisit after time has washed over the pain and healing has occurred. You clearly shared warmth, closeness and affection- those positive and constructive things will be what remains once the pain has subsided.<br />
<br />
As for your question, I can offer no reply, only assurance that time does help. It is not meant cruelly, but perhaps cherish the knowledge that you were so loved, and that you may find that again in the future.

Autimom. Well, here we are. No one knows better than you...I will take your advice, as you have been a loving and supportive friend for a really long time now. You know me. <br />
I hope that you are right about the pain subsiding. I think you are. New memories can be made, I agree, but they do not supplant the old ones, maybe they filter them though, so that the contrast between what was and what is, is blurred a little, and the pain then becomes a little muted. I'm going with that, anyway. It is great to hear from you. Thank you...again.

Ksparrow,<br />
Your comment here had me crying (again, still) because you made me feel like I can take something really, really painful and then articulate it and have someone like you read it, and understand, and offer sincere condolences and advice. And then that little "I care" at the end. That did me in. It was like my emotions came full circle. And in the end I realized that people DO care and that, over these past few days, has made all the difference for me. I care about you too. Thank you from the bottom of my worn heart.

Wheezers, Lost love is brutal. This I know. I don't know if we are ever really "done" when we love someone deeply though. I can manipulate my mind in some ways, process the emotion and move on. Thank god for that or I would have been dead long ago. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your comment. This stuff is hard.

You have come a very long way with this. I believe that you've finally accepted that waiting isn't what you want to do any longer, that you are ready to start living again and I applaud you. Someday these items that you talk about won't matter,...there will not be pain associated with them forever. I suggest that you put the letters up in a box so that you can pull them out in the future and see that I am right. Delete the photos. Put that dress on and go out and make new, happy memories in it.

Thank you, you.

I have a box a memories in my closet. Mostly notes and letters from old crushes I had through my high school years. My wife has asked repeatedly for me to get rid of them, but I refuse. I haven't looked at them for a long while, but I used to look from time to time, to remind myself of my foolishness. I may need that reminder again.... so I keep them. And my wife keeps threatening to destroy them, her jealous streak shows through. They say that your body can't remember pain, no matter how hard you try. You can remember bits and pieces of the pain, but never fully remember how bad it was. So people keep little tokens to help them remember. To remind them of their foolishness, and release them to be fools again.

Thanks so much. I have replied as a comment

Tas, See? This is why you have to stay. This is more in keeping with my way of thinking. I cannot burn or smash or mutilate anything because I am not angry, I am just profoundly sad at what I feel that I had and lost. But I know deep down that I cherished every second I spent with him, and I do not regret any of it and I have come to accept that it is over. One day soon I will not be tortured by it, but as you suggest, I will smile at what we had together for a while. I understand how life works and I have had enough heartache to understand too that things happen for a reason and that we can never know what will happen or how we will react and that is the joy and the beauty and the astonishing nature of life. Love is way more powerful than hate and bitterness and anger. I am just sad, and this is how it is manifesting itself today. But it will not always be like this. You are so smart and especially you are a great friend, sharing yourself honestly and with such kindness. Thank you. Don't leave.

I cannot speak for him but for me I would say deal with all these things by cherishing them. Life is so short. Your relationship ended but it sounds as if there was a lot of love and happy times. Cherish these memories, seriously. You may well fall in love again and it may well be forever .. but it will never be the same. <br />
I understand how painful this is but dont have the end in any way ugly.<br />
If it is currently too painful to see the things and the memories then fold them neatly lovingly away in special boxes. One day you will look at them feeling peaceful and grateful for the time you shared.

*faerie follows Tas' advice* ... in time, Quin, such tokens and memories, perhaps bittersweet, will give us that smile of peace, lessening the turmoil in our hearts. *hugs to you both*

Fallflower. Bring the boxes, and bring a bottle of something and we will put an end to this once and for all. I HAVE gotten excellent advice, and I will be taking it. Not sure exactly how it will all play out yet but I have come a long way since whenever I wrote this (4 days ago I guess). I will write a follow up at some point. I will move past this somehow...soon. Thank you for being such a good friend to me when I need it most. Now get over here. I'm thirsty.

How could I forget that most important bottle! Red or white?

Not sure what I'm in the mood for. Better bring one of each.

I am just seeing this incredibly moving piece now. And you've gotten lots of good advice. Letting go of the physical stuff is a solid start to letting go of the pain. How you go about it - burning, donating, selling, tossing, or just packing it up to deal with later - is probably less relevant than that you actually let it go. I will totally come over with some boxes if you want :)

Letting go is hard to do, but sometimes life forces us to let go when we just can't hang on anymore.

You are absolutely right. I am letting go. Thank you.

Thank you Lady. I think everyone has felt this at one time or another. People deal with things in different ways. I cry like a baby, and then...I write. Thank you for reading and commenting and mostly for understanding and commiserating.

AvatarUnknown. That is exactly what I intend to do. I intend to put that effing dress on and dance until I drop. I do get compliments and I will accept them for what they are and not let the memories sour it all. That is the plan.<br />
But if it all falls apart then I will do what you suggested and just pack it all away so that I can dry my eyes and face my future. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind and really profound words of advice and empathy. I really appreciate it.

I will be glad if any words of mine help you to move on and be happier.

Ruby. Thank you for your comment. I know from experience that time definitely does heal wounds. Some, like this one however, will remain open for a very long time for many reasons, not the least of which is that it happened to me at this point in my life, a point in time when I am very vulnerable and desperate. <br />
So I have to climb back up and out at a distinct disadvantage, the hole being a bit deeper than it might have been had this occurred at another time. Still, I will claw my way out of here. Thank you again for your support. It is like a little leg up, what people have given me here.

i went through the same thing a few yrs back.it i cried myself to sleep everynight and i thought i wud go crazy.it is difficult to let go of things dat mattered so much once.bt somehow u wl have to learn how to do it...no one else can do that for u...u have 2 start living again and most of all start loving yourself again

It does feel as if you are going crazy at times. Thank you for saying that. It makes me feel a little less ...insane.

Heart wrenching. Hugs to you, will not say I understand. because no one can feel your pain but you. But i have felt similar Psion and emotions. Very moving and well written.

If you can bear to wear the sundress to a fun event, say a friends bbq, then you will be laying new pleasant memories over the old. Possibly collecting admiring glances too..<br />
However, if you really think you will never be able to wear that dress, or any of the others again, its time to let them go. They serve no useful purpose in your life and are actually cluttering up your closets, leaving no space for new clothes. A box in the attic for other stuff, one day you may come across it and wonder why you kept it. <br />
Help yourself to see the possibility of a future love in this world by choosing to have fewer reminders of the past around you. It wont be easy, but you are a strong person. You can do it.

I don't have an answer for you life is sometimes sad. They say time will heal all wounds but they don't mention how to let go of the things and memories left behind.

Aussiesuzy. Your comment touched me, especially the part about loving ourselves. People have always told me that I am really hard on myself, and this time is no different. I torture myself with what I must have done to become unlovable, unwanted after so long. I wonder what it is I did, said, wrote...<br />
Maybe it was as simple as "Out of sight out of mind" when someone else came along. Or maybe he just needed to walk away for reasons I will never understand. Ideally you get to know the reasons so that you can cope with them, work on your failings etc. But I will never know what I did to make this love go away, and I suffer with that.<br />
I not only do not love myself, I pretty much hate myself. Your words struck me. I need to get over myself, and fast. I need to find a way to like myself again so that I can learn to love life again. Thank you--sincerely--thank you.

Hiker. You astound me, always with your ability to get to the heart of the matter so eloquently, ans so personally and so lovingly. You are gifted, certainly, but mostly you are a really great friend. Thanks for coming through for me...again. We understand one another, partners in pain. I hope one day to be partners in joy. Thank you, you.