Today I made a big list in my precious planner. The section is called simply “Home” and the grid paper contains scribbles of the projects and plans I have for my little one and I’s house.
This was the home that my ex-husband and I bought together two months before our wedding. We had never lived together, preferring to follow the traditional route. We visited financial advisors and borrowed money from parents to make up a deposit. We were disappointed at how little we could afford, but we found a perfect place – small enough for just two of us, big enough if we wanted to make two of us three, and close to my family and friends of mine.
We did little bits and pieces to the house but largely it wasn’t until I fell pregnant that the biggest changes occurred: new carpet in the lounge; new decor there too; one wall of our bedroom painted petrol blue and cheap curtains purchased to match. Our money, care and love went into the nursery: furniture that would last – oak – and a painstakingly hand painted wall of bright zig-zags; a handmade mobile of silvery stars; a little cupboard built in to house my newly-evicted crafting equipment.
I made most of the decisions about the aesthetic in our little house because I’m fairly creative, but in spite of that, when my ex left it felt like I needed to do something. Change things. Refresh, revamp and exorcise some demons. I got my planner, made a little Home section and started noting down some projects.
Over the last year I have made some of those changes: the aging textured wallpaper in the hall and all over the vast high stairwell was stripped with great difficulty by decorators. The smooth, crisp white walls make the entrance to my home that much brighter and more modern. The petrol blue wall in my ex and I’s bedroom have been completely replaced with a bright yellow and grey 70s wallpaper, grey walls, and even a brand new bed. It has been cathartic, making these changes, and I have cleared out so much of my stuff in the process. Clothes that I don’t wear and rubbish I haven’t looked at for years have been systematically binned in an effort to clear my possessions and make tidying easier. I’m still looking for the elusive dressing table.
I remember my friends asking when the bonfire of my ex’s things would be taking place. It’s a standing joke, isn’t it? Burn that bastard’s belongings. I never did. Bin bags of his clothes lived in my hall for months, and I never felt spiteful or bothered enough to burn them or cut them up or let my friends take out their anger on them. I don’t know why. I never fulfilled that stereotypical woman-scorned role. My dad eventually put them in the attic along with the rest of the “stuff” he has put there over the last 14 months.
While retrieving the Christmas tree he informed me that I really ought to clear it out. Today in my Filofax I added it to my list of projects.
I’m scared, though. Not just of the wobbly ladder which means I have never actually been in my floored, lit attic.
I’m scared of upsetting all those demons and memories I’ve psychologically put up there, out of sight and mind.
My wedding dress – the most expensive thing I’ve ever worn, which I loved.
My ex’s kilt, purchased for the wedding.
My little one’s tiny clothes, grown out of so quickly.
Photographs. Mostly of our wedding.
Every item of his clothing, bin bagged and shoved there because when he left he never looked back. He bought a new wardrobe, leaving behind all of his garments, the way he was when he was with me. He moved on.
I’m scared to go up there and stir all of that up. It’s like a whole past life is up there and I don’t want to face it, but I know I will have to.
I was a wife once. I tried and tried and tried for my little guy once, and I still wonder if I will ever experience being pregnant and a mummy of a new little life again. I have come so far in a year but mostly because I have let the dust settle on those things in the attic.
I have spent the last 14 months making changes, trying to grow and settle in my new role. I worry that this will be a step backwards.
I know that some of the things can offer me joy: I want to donate my wedding dress to a charity which will make gowns for little babies who pass too soon. I want to donate the warmest of my little one’s clothes to refugees. I will keep my travel system and larger toys just in case one day I have the chance to be a mummy again.
As for his clothes…what do I do? I have offered them back many times. Maybe I should have had that bonfire, not out of spite, but just so that I didn’t have to delay this task. Perhaps I’m not quite ready yet. I won’t really know until I try.
Wish me luck.