Purging after divorce: How your stuff is your own personal psychic

Do you look around your post-divorce digs every night and feel like you just hate it all?

Are you still in your old house and wondering about letting go of all this stuff — about purging after divorce?  

Are you in your first apartment after divorce and wondering how you got all this stuff, and whether any of it still belongs?  Or maybe you’ve gotten rid of everything and embraced total minimalism after divorce -- but it feels cold and disconnected

Whatever stage you’re in, take a look around your living space as it is right now because your home is your own personal psychic.

Why your first apartment after divorce is the best psychic you’ve ever met.

If you want a quick snapshot of where you are in your divorce healing journey, look around you at your home or apartment.  Your home is a living organism, and it will tell you what you need to do to heal.

It’s better than an oracle deck when it comes to figuring out where you are and what you need to do next, even if nothing else you’ve tried has worked so far.

When you look around your personal space, what does it tell you?

What does your home currently say about the life that you’re living?

If this weren’t your home, what would be your guess about the kind of person who lives here?  When you get that “snapshot” of who this person is, does it match the person you are deep inside, the you that you want to be?

If you’d like your space to provide you with comfort, love, and support, there are just two steps to take. First, let your home tell you what’s going on inside it (and inside you), and second, letting it be your guide to what you’d like to change (and let the darkness begin to lift).

Step 1: Answers from the crystal ball.

What’s in your home? Why is it there? What’s the history, and how does it make you feel now? It’s time to take a quick overview of everything.  

Are there lots of items scattered around the house that remind you of your ex?  How do you feel when you encounter these objects every day?

Every time you open the closet or look at that bookcase, do you see the wedding album, or that DVD you both loved? They’re having a subtle emotional impact on you even if you’re not consciously noticing them.

What about the kitchen?  Are you still cooking dishes that were his favorites (because you or the kids like them, too, but every time you make those recipes, there’s an undercurrent of sadness)?  Are there pictures of him on the fridge because you don’t want to upset your kids?

The living room: Out of necessity, you still have most of your marriage-era furniture?  Do you just not have the strength to clean or straighten, so it’s looking like a war zone?

The bedroom:  Are you sleeping on sheets that you used during your marriage?  Did you always hate the color scheme, but needed to have something neutral or masculine, for his comfort level?  And, now that color -- beige or grey or blue -- is the color of your battered heart?

And, last, the most private inner sanctum: Your closet.  What’s in there, and what is it saying to you? Is it a total mess, crowded with dreary stuff that’s old and vaguely worn out?  Is it full of items that feel bad whenever you wear them because they remind you of that fight, or of how he criticized how you look?  Are you not even sure what’s in your closet that actually makes you feel good?

Now, let’s go from the dark to the bright: Which items throughout your home bring you the most joy? Maybe, right now, these precious touchstones of your beauty and value are hidden underneath layers of everything else.

When those dusty layers of “not you” are brushed away, it’s always so exciting for my clients to see what emerges.  A special vision of themselves comes into view, as if really seeing themselves for the first time.

That’s how your house gives you the best psychic reading ever.  It tells you where you are right now, and gives you hints of where you can be, with just a few simple changes.  The feeling of your living space transforms, as well as what you believe can be possible for you.

But before we get there, let’s uncover what you love by dealing with what you don’t.

Step 2: Sweeping away the broken glass.

What I notice happens so often with divorcees who seek me out:  They feel they have to put the broken pieces back together, when it can be so much easier. Broken glass is dangerous. It’s so much better to sweep it up and get another cup.

When you did your Step 1, what things did you find that depressed you the most?  What are you itching to throw away (or at least hide away in your garage)? If you have lots of things in your space that are so not you, grab some post-it notes to inspire you.

You don’t have to do it all now. Go easy on yourself.

Box-up or Goodwill the things that are easy to grab, and slap post-it notes on the rest.  The post-it notes will remind you of how something makes you feel, or what you plan to do with it, or how you plan to dispose of it.  

Reassure your spirit that you are going to let her shine, even though you can’t get to everything right now.

Hate the color of that wall?  Throw a post-it note on it that says you’re going to get some paint chips to look at. Next time some cute bedspreads come across your newsfeed, take a screenshot.

Need to move marriage and family memorabilia out of your path?  Find a new home for that family photo in your kids’ room.

Do something “creative” with the wedding gifts that are still in your kitchen and you never liked anyway -- maybe using a hammer when no one else is around.

“You don’t get it:  I can hardly make it to work every day.”

DD purging ifo mockup.png

Yes, I totally do get it!  If you can’t even bear to think about doing the two-step process above, I have a special gift for you.  My top 5 suggestions for creating a first apartment after divorce that nurtures you, supports you, and makes you feel beautiful.  You can pick and choose among the five “get started” steps, and none of them takes more than a few minutes to do. Check it out here:


Should it stay or should it go?

I thought you might like to hear how this divorce decluttering and nest-creation worked out for some of my Dynamic Divorcee clients and Facebook friends.  Here’s some of what they did to heal while staking out their own space and their own style:

“My first home post divorce was bigger than the home I had with my ex. At first I was terrified to do anything. So afraid after years years of his crap!! But I painted it and furnished it and made it my own. It slowly reflected me. I was able to hang pictures on the walls but out nice things. He broke everything that was mine or in some way ruined or sabotaged what I tried to create. As I healed the house became more of a reflection of the home I wanted it to be. It showed  me what I could and more importantly let my kids see me get back up.” -- Teryl

“I got divorced almost 2 years ago and when I moved out I wanted a clean slate. Similar to the story posted on your post, I also finally bought the couch I wanted and chose the furniture and colors I wanted. I am for the first time very happy with my place. During my marriage I was very unhappy with my house and the furniture in the house. Our living room had the furniture from his old house (which I hated) and he never agreed to update anything. I love my place now and I am very happy with it and my new life.” -- Marciel

“My first post-divorce home was a small apartment about half the size or smaller than our marital home. When I left he wouldn’t let me have anything so I had a blank slate. I created my calming “beach house” retreat. I bought the fun blue plates I had always wanted, a white couch, bright colored comforters for the beds. And after leaving the atheist, I was able to put out my spiritual statues and hang positive quotes around. Rather than a toned down me, I was able to be fully and happily myself. My children and I even had a house blessing circle with all of my yogi friends and best friends when we moved in. I’m still here 7 years later with my new husband.” -- Hillary

“I'm remarried now. But it was the bed. It had to go. I bought a new one when I left. I told him to take our king-size when the divorce was final and I moved back into my house. He moved into my apartment. It might have been more practical for me to keep our old bed - it was already in the house, and the queen-size bed was already in the apartment. Plus the master bedroom in the house was big, whereas the larger bedroom in the apartment was much smaller. I didn't care. No way was I sleeping on the bed we had shared, not even for one night. Our court date was in the morning. He moved out with his bed, and I moved back in with mine in the afternoon.” -- Linda

“All the furniture. I replaced it all. It was no longer our space it was mine. So i bought the black couches I had always wanted and the decorations I always wanted. Put up pictures of all my friends and voila!! He was forgotten.” -- Claudia

“Left everything behind including those ‘friends’ that at the end ware not! I got rid of everything that reminds me of my ex and the last of him is gone just about few weeks ago when I found pictures of him. I moved to a small apartment but I always kept telling myself is only a transition to a better life!...and it was! I got new furniture, new clothes, new house, new friends and the best of all I have God and peace of mind. I left him with everything I bought in that apartment glad I did a least he has something to offer to his new wife.” -- Julia


And, in case a divorce decluttering guidebook would help . . .

Here are some of the books divorcees said were most helpful: