It’s all fun and games when a relationship is new and you are slowly trying to make your way in your guy’s life… and his house. So leaving some stuff over at his place is always a good way to start (see Is an Honest Place Better Than a Great Place?). But what happens when the relationship is over and you don’t only have a toothbrush and a hairdryer as break-up casualties, but a whole suitcase of clothes a box full of cosmetics? As playful and fun as it is making yourself at home at your new boyfriend’s place, it’s twice as painful and excruciating having to get your stuff back..
Almost 5 months after my break-up with Serge, I was almost in peace with the idea of writing off my belongings as break-up casualties and calling it a day rather than going through the heart-wrenching task of having to walk back into a house that felt like home to me less than half a year ago to claim back my clothes. I figured that if I can go without them for almost half a year, I clearly don’t need them. Unfortunately, in situations like this, it never helps to have a rational friend – Sarah insisted that this was an experience that I had to go through in order to close that chapter of my life and learn. I recall her saying over dinner on Thursday night “I want you to do this and I want to be the one to drive you there. Plus you have stuff worth over 500 pounds there!”. When I realized there was no fighting her over this I gave Serge a quick call and arranged to drop by on Friday afternoon to finally pick up my boxes.
Needless to say I barely slept the night before, but the real drama actually began when we were getting close to his neighborhood. I could feel my heart beating faster and my stomach in knots throughout the hour-long car drive to Serge’s place. I was creating imaginary scenarios in my head about how I would face him. I felt resentment and anxiousness growing inside of me. I knew that there was only two ways this would go down – either I would see him and feel even more resentment for everything that he did to me or I would see him, in the same place that we spent our weekends together, and feel the heartache of the break up all over again. Either way, I knew that after leaving his place, the peace of mind that I had after not having talked to him for so long and letting time heal my wounds, would be long gone.
The more we drove through the old familiar roads and I started recognizing all the places that Serge and I used to go to – like the small Italian restaurant just around the corner from his – the more it hit me: everything looked the same and yet everything had changed… All the memories that came rushing back made my heart break a little more, but the whole area seemed like an abandoned battlefield. And I couldn’t decide if it was a bittersweet feeling or if it was simply painful. Before I had time to decide we pulled into his driveway and Serge was letting us into the building .. that’s probably when my breath was cut short and went into an auto-pilot mode.
Sarah and I didn’t spent more than 5 minutes in the flat. As soon as I entered a huge surge of emotions swept through me – and I had to keep it all bottled up until I got out of there, The light in his flat looked so different post-war. I was looking around in horror – every room was full of memories and it was too much to take in. I was hoping that I would resent everything around me but there was no hate, there was no anger – I just missed everything that flat represented and everything it had meant for me, My memories from that place were bittersweet, but for some reason, I could only see the good ones around me, I tried to concentrate on my breathing and the lump that had formed in my throat making it hard for me to swallow – warning me that I wouldn’t be able to keep the tears from streaming down my face for much longer. I had to go up to the guest bedroom where the first box was full of my clothes. When I noticed a piece missing and asked where it was he went in his room looking for it. I recall him calling out to me that he couldn’t find it and to go have a look. I looked at Sarah and shook my head in shock “I can’t go in there” – if I had kept it together in every other room, getting into his bedroom would have been the final blow. The last thing I needed was to see the bed that I shared with him, knowing he shares it with someone else now. I decided I didn’t care what was missing, I had to get out of there that instant. Sarah and I picked up a box each and started making our way out. I politely thanked Serge for keeping my stuff and while he was showing us out the door and saying goodbye I felt his hand on my back for a split second. And the world stopped spinning and I could feel the tears burning my eyes. I couldn’t’ turn to face him, rushed through the door that Sarah held open for me and said a quick goodbye on my way out. She called the lift, and as soon as I got in, I knelt on top of the box full of my failed-relationship leftovers and cried. I cried for the good times and I cried for the bad times – I cried for everything that was over, for the things that I lost and wanted back and for the things that hurt me. But most of all I cried for a piece of my heart that I left behind in that house when I closed the door behind me for the last time that I would never get back. And Sarah patiently caressed my hair while I was crying my eyes out – first in the lift, then through the parking lot and finally on most of the car-ride home.
By now I know why I had to do this – I knew that was me closing that chapter for good. I don’t know if my heart caught up with my brain yet, but I’ll come to terms with it. There’s nothing left unsaid, nothing to ponder upon.
I now know that I can resent Serge from time to time all I want, but he would always have a piece of my heart. Even if two days later I still feel his hand around my back, making all the emotions surge through me again and bringing tears to my eyes, I know deep down that this is the end of an era. And after all, if after more than a year of being together, entering that house made me feel nothing, then it would have been a waste of a year. At least now I know that I don’t regret anything.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you deal with claiming back all your belongings after a break-up? Comment and let me know!