Packing to Leave During Divorce

If you’re the one who’s leaving the house or apartment where the two of you have been living, at some point, you’ll probably end up packing your belongings to leave. This is a delicate point in the grieving process.

I’m not sure it matters much whether you’re the leaver or the left. Packing is a pain, literally. Even in the most cooperative of divorces, packing your belongings will probably bring up for you deep feelings of regret, betrayal, loss, and maybe guilt.

Tom was the leaver. He and Marcia had struggled for months to define how they would deal with their divorce. They finally signed the papers, and Tom could see the light of freedom at the end of the tunnel. After months of gamesmanship on both sides, he and Marcia agreed for him to go to the house and pack the gear he had left behind when he moved out, and Tom was relieved and excited to be finishing up his ordeal. “But for some reason, when I started pulling my old sweaters out of the drawer,” Tom told me later, “the dam broke. I just sat down in the middle of the bedroom floor and bawled. Why’d I do that?”

I’ll tell you what I told Tom: I don’t know.
What I do know, though, is that the physical act of packing may be a more emotional time for you than you thought it would be. Perhaps it will be exhilarating for you. Or maybe you’ll cry. Or maybe you’ll feel a deep emptiness that you can’t understand or explain. Or maybe you’ll feel all three.

You’ll also forget some things. That’s okay. Remember, you’re in crisis, and you’re going to forget to pack some of the things you planned to get. I’ll let you decide whether you want to reopen the wounds by going back to get them. For some of you, that will be no big deal; you’ll just call your STBX and ask for them. For others, though, you’d rather walk on hot coals or watch four hours of Richard Simmons videos. Just know that it’s okay to leave things behind if you’d rather not deal with your STBX again.

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