The Dignified Break Up: Purge & Release

I’ve always been somewhat of a minimalist at heart. I am not one for clutter, and ever since I was little, I’ve taken great joy in organizing things. Even with my minimalist attitude, I still find things to purge and release.  I love the sense of peace and wide open mental space that you get when you’re done.

It is most important to deeply purge, both mentally and physically, after a break-up of any sort.  In fact, throw in a paint job and some rearranging too.

After my divorce, nearly everything I was at the curb waiting for bulk pick-up, and not long after that a furniture truck was backing in.  I started with the living room and found the most girly of all couches; a soft baby blue couch with huge silk pillows.  It was now or never.  I knew that eventually I would be in a nice, normal and new relationship again and this would probably be my last opportunity to have hot pink anything.  So I sprung for hot pink bath towels too!

Releasing the physical stuff helps to give you courage to start on the internal stuff.  Maybe it’s the new space, or may be you feel lighter when you look around and the outsides are brand new.  You somehow gain hope that your insides can be that way again too.

  • Purge & Release mentally as well as physically.  Sometimes it happens at the same time…

While you are going through your space inch by inch cleaning, purging, painting and reclaiming it (for about to be) new self, consider cracking open your “treasure chest”.  You know what I mean.  The drawer, box, room, what have you that keeps every memento, concert ticket and love letter.  Take a look inside and be reminded of love past.  Start thinking to yourself about how each one of those romances ended.

Is there a pattern?

Is this break up similar?

Did he/she say something about you & how you act that you’ve heard before?

I’ve been broken up with before, or I’ve had to end a relationship and the last time that it happened I stumbled upon something in my purge phase that changed me.  I found a vintage laced bag that I didn’t even know that I had.  Inside was stuffed full of the letters that my ex-husband had written me from Iraq.

As I re-read them, I realized that the beginning of my relationships usually begin the same way, delirious with love and excitement.  I also realized that several red flags – usually the same ones with each love – are always ignored during that phase. Like a ton of bricks smashing me in the head, I got it.  Since the relationships move in the same cycles, its no wonder they end up in the same way, and therefore I act the same way, and therefore they say the same things to me and probably about me.

Doing this magical exercise and swallowing the bitter pill of self-examination will actually make you a better and more healthy you. In turn, you will attract a better and more healthy selection of potential partners.

In my last break up, I came to understand that I had been carrying the resentment from my marriage around with me and consequently punishing someone who loved me for the major mistakes made in my marriage. How would I feel if someone did that to me? It dawned on me that my ex-boyfriend had to have stumbled upon this lace bag, and if he did, then he had to have seen some of the candid wedding snapshots stuffed in there as well.  To him, it must have felt like I wasn’t over my husband when in fact I was, I just wasn’t over the circumstances.

For the sake of all things holy and good…PURGE.


  • Release

With my “treasure chest” in hand, at 3:30 in the morning, I went to my kitchen and got out a large pot, then went outside to uncover my grill, dumped everything into both, then sat on my deck with my dog, lit a Marlboro Light and set the shit on fire.

Pictures, journals, concert tickets, letters, post cards, dried flowers, notes…everything. As I watched it all burn, a calm and a relief that I never felt before came over me…it was like I was free.  With my past reduced to ashes and set free into the universe, I decided to take it even futher.  I pictured my ex-husband in front of me and I told him that I forgive him and I forgive myself as well…and committed myself to working to make that actually true.

Breaking up is work.  It takes a lot of open mindedness as well as a willingness to accept responsibility and fault.  It’s too easy to just blame the other person, and also too painful. Yes things didn’t work out. Yes you feel rejected. But the longer that you run from these feelings the more pain you are going to feel. The more that you are going to punish the next person, and the least likely you’ll be able to co-parent if that’s the position that  you are in.

Breaking up isn’t easy, but it can be classy.