Sara said her biggest accomplishment was being able to handle everything that being a single parent entailed. In the beginning, the prospect of parenting on your own made her nervous but over time she came to master it. I asked her if there was a moment that stuck out in her mind when she knew she was ready for a new beginning and could do it. Here’s her answer:
I stayed in the house after my ex moved out. He didn’t take anything with him, he just left so all his things around the house reminded me of him and our marriage.
Then one day, I called the city and said,
“I need a dumpster.”
They brought a dumpster to the house and I got rid of SO much stuff, old furniture, things he’d collected. I was like,
“This is a new beginning!”
I wasn’t so harsh that I threw out anything valuable to him but just the stuff we didn’t need. We had a yard sale, I donated a lot and threw the rest in the dumpster. It was me saying,
“This is me starting over and I am getting rid of it.”
When I told my ex what I was doing, he wanted to know what I’d thrown out. There were some items on the side of the house and I told him to come and get it if he wanted it. He took some and the rest went in the dumpster. He said,
“I wish I would have known everything you threw in that dumpster,” to which I said,
“The dumpster was sitting here for months. You had that opportunity so you can’t say anything now.”
I didn’t feel bad about it because I made it very clear what I was doing. Getting the dumpster was my new beginning, the moment I knew I could do this on my own.
The Divorce Coach Says
I completely understand how this was a turning point for Sara – she was taking charge and being assertive. I think a marriage that isn’t working inevitably saps your self-confidence so any time you can be assertive in a way that you feel good about, and achieve your goal is a win for your confidence. It’s not only about getting your point across, it’s about finding how to express that point in the way you’re most comfortable with – for some that may be via email, for some that may be over the phone. I like to do it either in person or over the phone and I like to do it without it turning into a shouting match.
There’s also something very symbolic about this moment: clearing out your ex’s stuff is a very visible, physical demonstration that you truly are ready to let go and move on.
Clear outs can be enormously satisfying. I love getting rid of stuff we no longer need. It’s almost as if I can hear the house sighing, and thanking me for it afterwards. I like space and I hate clutter. Thank goodness for dumpsters.