Spring Cleaning: Downsizing After Divorce

Spring: We say “spring cleaning” from that old world where the house was opened up, aired out, rugs and curtains beaten of their dust and dirt--the entire home given a thorough scrubbing after a dark and cold winter. Think of your former marriage as that cold and dark winter, and your new life as a time to let in the sunshine and rid your home of dirt and old things. It’s a metaphor. This metaphor is intended to help you feel better after a painful time of difficult emotions and letting go of your old life and dreams. But cleaning out your things in the real world, downsizing, after a divorce has restorative and hopeful moments.

Many people reading this will identify with the moving aspect of divorce. Yeah, moving as in emotional, but also as in physically changing locations. It’s sad, and often painful to leave the home you began your family in, but the opportunity to shed unnecessary things presents itself. Do you need all of those plates and coffee mugs? Cry it out, because, no, you don’t. You don’t need all of the things you once did. There’s an empty space, but in that space you can create new things. Declutter. Donate. Assess whether or not you still want the mug you bought in your 20s while on a trip together. Maybe you do want it, or maybe you can’t quite let go yet, but at some point that mug from Six Flags, or the shirt from your visit to Toronto together, will either become a thing to let go or a piece of your growth that you want to keep.

The other valuable thing about cleaning stuff from your home as you trade spaces with someone else is your ability to find yourself in that space. Divorce causes an identity crisis of sorts and a new space can be daunting in the sheer loneliness of having less, but in that minimal space you see who you are and who you can grow to be with less.

Cleaning things out, living with less, has the added value of teaching us what is truly important. We learn what love means. We learn more about ourselves. We learn the value of negative space. This spring, if you’ve faced divorce, embrace what you have with less. Take the time to clean a few other areas out and either fill them with something new, or just let the space have value in its emptiness. Yes, this another metaphor.If you are divorcing, know that opening up after the darkness and confusion, letting some light and air in, can help you move forward. You can build a new home. You can build a new life.

Things are about to get better. We are here to help.