I performed a long put off chore this weekend — I cleaned out my personal email box. This was long, long overdue. I had emails going back to 2008.
This was a chore I had been putting off for some time, making excuses as to why this was a low priority. Bottom line — I wasn’t ready. I knew that, in that plethora of emails, that there were personal messages exchanged between me and my now ex-husband. Messages that were primarily focused on his affairs (there were multiple), the status of the remodel on his parents’ home that we completed right before he filed for divorce and into which he promptly moved his girlfriend after filing (the girlfriend he denied for two years), the lies and gaslighting messages he engaged in — he gaslighted me our entire marriage — telling me he loved me even while he was planning to leave.
The exercise was cathartic. It took me about 6 months after the divorce was final to finally get to the point where I knew I would be ok. It took me three years to start going through boxes in the garage containing the remnants of our life together, sorting through and throwing away mementos tarnished by the lies, while keeping the meaningful ones from my children (there are still boxes out there to be gone through, 31 years of marriage accumulates alot of boxes), the few I have since he and his girlfriend (now wife) unilaterally decided to discard many of the remnants the way he discarded his family, without regard. Lost to me forever are the drawings and grade cards from elementary school, Christmas ornaments hand-made every year with the kids around the kitchen table, hand-made valentines day cards from them, baby dresses sewn with my hands for my daughter, halloween costumes and pictures, and others, so finding the few mementos that remained was important to me.
The emails contained messages from his various girlfriends to him, that he forwarded to me during marriage counseling, messages from his girlfriends to me telling me to stop fighting the inevitable, that he loved them and not me, pictures and expressions of love from him, messages telling me that I was the love of his live — all lies.
I was braced for a plethora of emotions, prepared to ride the emotional rollercoaster. Deleting those messages was oddly freeing. That period of my life ended 6 years ago, and sifting through the emails was surprisingly emotionless, as if that happened to another person. It was as if I was looking through the history of someone elses’s life.
Another person is oddly accurate — I’m not the same person that I was when I was married to him. I’m stronger, more carefree, independent, a woman with her own identity, albeit a bit guarded and cautious. Going through the emails was like looking through the remnants of someone else’s existence. My daughter tells me I’m a very different person than I was then, and that the change is good.
My plan is to downsize my house, and relocate to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, where I can sleep with the windows open and not hear sirens and traffic, but instead the sound of flowing water, crickets, and owls. Part of the downsizing is getting rid of things no longer necessary. The electronic housekeeping is part of the cleaning effort
It was a chore I had been dreading, but was not nearly as awful as I was expecting it to be — to the contrary, it was simply a chore to be done. Now the boxes in the garage aren’t nearly as daunting.