How I learnt to let go of her stuff – A Valentine's tale

I woke up to the same view of boxes stacked on boxes that I’ve woken up to many times before. Perhaps a part of me wished that I would get the opportunity to unpack the items inside and share them with someone, but that’s just how memories stay: personal and so scarily intimate.

The thing about breakups is that even the clean ones leave you with more baggage than you can reasonably deal with. But deal with them you must, lest you end up in existential hell with your sanity strung together by the loose tethers of hope for a future with somebody else.

April 2016

I found myself in precisely the same situation as anyone who’s ever attempted to recover a relationship turned sour. You hoard everything you’ve accumulated over the years and you shove them into a brown box that gets chucked under the bed.

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‘Out of sight, out of mind’ you tell yourself, knowing that it couldn’t be any further from the truth.

May 2016 

 I took a trip down to her place to collect a box of our things that she left behind when she left to study abroad. It contained ticket stubs from all our movie dates, the little cards and letters we’d written each other over the years, photos, brochures from the places we’d visited, even security passes from the theatre productions we’d been in together.

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We had burgers for lunch outside the State Library of Victoria.

With the box in my backpack and unbridled optimism, I got on the cheapest flight to Melbourne. I figured that if it were only collecting dust on the shelf, that I’d make a last ditch effort at salvaging whatever was left of what we’d left behind.

From here it’s easy to guess what went down: Boy makes a last ditch effort to fix an already broken relationship with fragments of what once was, only to find that Girl has already moved on.

In short: no amount of nostalgia could change her mind. Memories don’t change, but people do and you can’t stop someone from moving on if they already have.

December 2016

Perhaps I’d grown tired of staring at boxes and accepted that some things aren’t going to change no matter how hard I wish for them to. One by one I emptied the box, sifting through what seemed like an eternity of memories condensed into four years’ worth of gifts.

I realised, that perhaps the items we hold the most dear to us will always be the hardest to let go of; we cling on to what we can when we know things are falling inevitably out of our grasp. Neither memories change, nor the items we ascribe them to, but people do and no amount of holding on will hold anyone back forever.

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Toss the photo, sell the frame

So instead of throwing the items away, I’ll choose to sell them to someone who could use them instead. To leave our belongings to rot is to strip away utility from the otherwise functional. While the story has ended, the book can still be read over and over again.

If these items can move on, maybe I can too.

January 2017

I’ve always thought of Carousell as sort of a repository – behind every item here is a story. Behind every story are lives of people so seemingly distant from our own yet so intimately shared with us through the marketplace.

But it doesn’t just end there right? With every pre-loved item is an opportunity to create new stories, to paint our lives with vibrant new shades of colour we’ve never used before. Putting our my items for sale wasn’t about getting rid of them, it was about allowing for the things that meant the most to me to mean something to somebody else.

So one by one I sold our things: from the Darth Vader socks she got me that I never wore, to the bicycle pump she knew I needed to renew my passion for night cycling. It was an interesting experience, thinking about how ordinary household items could mean so much to a person but I knew that my items were going to people who would need them more than I do. I might have also sold her a Kindle to help fund my new camera.

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As I look back on how far I’ve come in this journey of recovery, I’ve come to realise that much of our internal is deeply influenced by the environment we choose to immerse ourselves in. Moving on isn’t just about cutting off contact or dismissing residual feelings. It’s not about letting go of something or someone, as if anything in life are ever truly in our grasp, within our control anyway. Letting go, is about letting yourself create opportunities for growth.

Just like how we allow our once-cherished items to grow into new environments and create new experiences, we let ourselves accept that there are greater stories out there to pursue… if only we allow ourselves to.

*Cover image from 500 Days of Summer

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