Monday, July 6, 2009

The High Road, the Low Road and Leaving Baggage Behind

In the past week, the past and its dreaded baggage came snapping at my heels.

I hate baggage. I also largely hate my past and do everything I can not to spend precious energy thinking about it or moseying down memory lane.

I have an ex. I also have an ex-house and an ex-dog and ex-cat.

When it was painfully clear that happiness was unattainable in the relationship as it stood and that no changes would be made by the ex, I left the ex and 95% of the accoutrements and trappings that went with the ex-relationship.

I didn't look back. I didn't really miss what I didn't take with me (except for the ex-dog and the ex-cat...I still miss them). What I haven't needed in the past 6 years, I couldn't anticipate needing in the future. After all, a person can always attain more "stuff"...we do live in a capitalistic, retail-therapy world of sorts.

There were things I asked for, documents that were important that could seemingly never be located by the ex and I just had to accept that they were gone forever.

Until last week.

The ex's new spouse contacted me through my own sibling, to tell me they are trying to sell the ex-house and that a whole upstairs bedroom was filled with my former-relationship stuff. I was to provide a location for drop-off so they could put the place on the market. The one caveat being I wasn't to go to the ex-house. That would make the ex's new spouse uncomfortable.

Seriously? I left him, remember?

Anyway, things spiralled into a must-remove-this-weekend situation. The ex's new spouse got so intent on ridding her space of my haunting past, that she broke down and called me to arrange this sifting and dumping of the past. She called ME. Impressive.

I told her to throw everything in the garbage. To me, it could only BE garbage. Its detritus of the past...I don't want to carry it around with me...and why the hell is it still sitting there 6 years post-split?!

Reality? The ex was "never comfortable" throwing out my wedding dress, my old undergrad text books, receipts from Canadian Tire for that ex-hose, dried out acrylic paints or ex-wedding photos.

Some of us like to cling to the past and others of us like to shed it. I'm a shedder.

I gave in, went solo to the ex-house, made the ex's new spouse uncomfortable, visited with the ex-dog and ex-kitty, sifted through the detritus of the ex-relationship and gave explicit go-ahead to shed the remains of the past.

I came away with some pots and pans I was previously not allowed to have, a locket with pictures of my grama and grampa inside and a heart-shaped box my mom painted for my 21st birthday.

When I left with these useful items of the past, I felt heavy. Weighed-down. I realized it wasn't the stuff in the trunk, but the feeling I always carried when I lived in the ex-house with the ex-spouse. Going "home again" meant going back to why I left in the first place, again. I hate that feeling.

When I got home and showed my partner all of the new-to-us old stuff, the phone rang. We were in the middle of organizing, so we didn't answer.

The past called again, to tell me that he found my undergraduate degree, in its folder, and that I could come by the next day to pick it up.

The past wanted me to have my educational attainment just took 6 years to accept letting go of that piece of paper. Every time I asked for it, from the moment I left, right up to a year ago, this degree was impossible to find. Mysteriously vanished.

Perhaps it was held ransom until the ex was prepared to finally go his way as I go mine.

I'm taking the high road, unburdened by stuff from the past. I won't cling to mistakes, failures, pain or the unknown through stuff. I choose to travel light.

I wish the ex and his new spouse, many happy years of gathering new shelves, closets, basements, attics and garages full of detritus marking their past.

May it never come biting at their heels.