I came home to his mail again. We agreed to have no contact for an extended period of time, to give me the space to heal. Seeing his name on all the envelopes felt like a dagger to my heart. A reminder of what is gone. I thought well, what now? Do I throw it out? That’s kind of cruel. Do I pass it onto mutual friends who he doesn’t even see that often? What if it’s important and he needs the mail soon? How do I stop this from continuing to happen?
I never considered the difference of the end of a relationship compared to the ending of one in which you lived together. The ending of one where you’re left behind in the house that you once shared. At the end of relationships, it always seems difficult to avoid bumping into reminders of that person. When you’ve lived together though, you find reminders constantly within your home, the place that is meant to be your safe haven from the world.
The mail was the beginning, the constant daily reminder. At first it was annoying, but it slowly built to be this massive representation of my pain. He wasn’t ready for a relationship, as he needed to sort his shit out. Needed to find his way into adulthood. Somehow diverting his mail within two weeks didn’t fall into the category of ‘sorting his shit out’.
After the mail begun to come in, I then started to find his belongings in cupboards and drawers. More stuff to work out what to do with. He told me that I could keep what was left in the apartment. It reminds me of him though. So, I’m left with another dilemma, do I throw it out? Seems wasteful. I’m also not sure I could bring myself to do so, it would concrete the reality that he is no longer here. Every time I find something I put it in his old sock drawer, a drawer that was left empty on his departure. Out of sight, out of mind right? I don’t know what I plan to do with the drawer full of his things that are now apparently my things. How long does it take until I’m ready to go through it again? Will I eventually throw them out or make use of them, who knows?
I’ve been waiting to cry. To feel this turmoil and chaos within me. The last man I truly loved, when he was gone, I didn’t know how to cope. I stopped sleeping. I stopped eating. I struggled with the energy to leave the house. My panic attacks returned. I moved back in with my family for a brief stint because I didn’t know how to be alone. I was preparing myself for it to happen again. Getting my psychologists phone number ready on speed dial. Preparing what I would say to work when I couldn’t hold myself together to be there. Despite the mail and the continuing treasure hunt of his belongings, I’ve just been left with a calm emptiness. A background noise of sadness, but ultimately plodding along with life like nothing has changed.
Whilst washing my hair, the soap holder which was holding up the shower shelves snapped off the wall. Crash, straight to the shower floor. My first thought was this is usually what he’d fix, something that he would sort out. My second thought was this is it! This is the moment to break down and cry. I still didn’t though, not a single tear. I washed the shampoo out and went on with my day. It’s been a week and the mess is still on my shower floor. The ironic part is majority of the items from the shelf are his. I’m showering everyday with his loofah and shaving cream at my feet. I don’t want to pick it up, I don’t want to fix the soap holder – it’s not that I’m incapable. I am completely capable of driving to the hardware shop, buying a new soap holder and screwing it into the wall. It’s just that I don’t want to. This is his thing – and the second I do it, I am once again concreting that reality that he’s not here to do so.
How is it that there’s obviously enough discomfort for mail to irritate me, his objects to make me a hoarder and for me to share my shower floor with someone else’s loafer – but not enough to make me cry or struggle to get through the day? How is it that five years ago I spiralled into a dark place, and this time I’m stuck in some weird calm? It is that I am in a better place within my life? I love my job, my family, my friends. My world is so much bigger than a man in it. Is it that I’ve learnt the coping skills necessary to handle a situation like this? Is it that I finally love myself?
Have I actually, after all these years of struggling to show myself compassion, learnt how to fucking love myself?