Less than one year after our wedding gifts were opened, I was left with pitifully few of them. When my ex-husband packed up his “half” of our belongings and moved out, he took almost everything. In the kitchen is where his indifference toward me was evident, and I was surprised to have been left with very little silverware or pots and pans, and most notably (at first): zero of the two George Foreman Grills we’d received as gifts.
At the time, it felt good to funnel all of the all-too-raw emotions I was feeling into simplicity: ragey anger. Anger came first because it’s the easiest. It was then that I could so easily hate him for not worrying about my future, or even how I was going to prepare or eat my next meal. I raged at him inside our apartment where I was left without a couch, a vacuum, a car and a TV.
I was so, so bitter about his greed and revenge. After all, he had been the one to walk away, and he’d practically made a sport of it throughout that year; this time it just happened to have stuck. He walked out on me. He made me tell him that I hated him so that he could leave without guilt. I was left in an unaffordable apartment in suburban DC, and he took with him everything that would fit in his car without a second thought. And it was unfair.
I was angry so I didn’t have to feel afraid. I didn’t have to feel anxious about how I was going to get my next load of groceries home. I didn’t have to mourn the loss of the relationship that had been a part of me through college. I didn’t have to face my loneliness, or the truth that I’d made a mistake. It was easy to push those feelings onto him.
But then I found I didn’t need to be angry anymore. Once the dust had settled and the pieces of my life were falling into place, anger didn’t even feel justified anymore. But anger had paved the rough road of abandonment smoothly. The path I was left with was so smooth that it allowed emotions like embarrassment, shame, fear and indiscretion after making the biggest mistake of my life, to show up. But they didn’t stay long. Because by then, I’d survived the worst of it.
And then, I was left with peace. And that is everything.
When you get through the tough shit and realize that nothing can be changed but the way you feel about it, there is nothing better. It took me years, but peace was worth the wait.
Besides, I don’t even use a George Forman grill. And I knew where the “fancy” stainless steel silverware was stored in the closet. It still visits my dishwasher daily.