Remember when Marie Kondo was trending? She had a phrase that can apply to more than just decluttering your home: Keep things “that spark joy”. Downsizing after divorce can mean physically downsizing, like moving to a smaller place with only the things you kept from the marriage. Downsizing can also just mean ridding yourself of the things from your former marriage that no longer “spark joy”. Cleaning out your things in the real world, downsizing, after a divorce does have restorative and hopeful moments. It is possible to bring back joy in your life after divorce.
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. Maybe you do want it, or maybe you can’t quite let go yet, but things you shed can become ways to embrace your new life, or they can be 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 and you can spark joy.
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