My discovery of minimalism as part of my transition through divorce has helped me to be more intentional with my time and resources. I spend less money and save more. I am happy with less.
I am perfectly pleased with my high-mileage yet reliable car, and plan to drive it for as long as possible. I spend time seeing and experiencing rather than collecting, cleaning and organizing.
By letting go of items from the past, I free myself to live in the present and attract new experiences and adventures.
How Decluttering Brought Me Joy
Several years ago, I moved abruptly from a house and out of an unhealthy marriage into an apartment and a new, daunting existence. I was depressed, tired and had little hope for the future. I began the process of decluttering out of necessity, and slowly discovered a more minimalist style of living.
I sorted, discarded, and donated clothes, books and household items. I shredded unnecessary paperwork. Many more items left my living space than entered it. I found myself reaching a point where I became excited to have less.
I looked at objects with fresh eyes and really asked myself what purpose the item served in my life. I asked myself if my belongings could be useful to someone else. Were they being wasted sitting dormant in my apartment?
I also spent time looking through mementos, reliving memories, and then letting them go. I focused on forgiveness of self and others.
During that time and for the next two years, I spent a great deal of time alone. I was sad and fearful, but I developed confidence and realized that I am resilient. I walked for miles each week. I appreciated nature.
I spent hours thinking. Over time, I began to discover my interests and preferences without the influence of a partner. I realized that I didn’t enjoy watching television so I cancelled my cable.
I figured out what foods I enjoyed and simplified my kitchen. I started hiking and biking with friends. I began to set goals. I eventually was blessed to cross and join paths with a wonderful man.
How Minimalism Saved Me
Minimalism helped me to open my heart to new beginnings, and I have entered into a deeper relationship than I could have imagined possible with a man I met as a I was becoming a more genuine version of myself. We share similar goals and views. We enjoy life. We give each other our presence.
After some careful reflection, I can see that my life has improved. Here are three ways minimalism saved me after my divorce:
1. I find joy in giving.
Offering and then giving treasured items to friends whom I knew would love them made my heart happy. Certain items have meaning and purpose in our lives for a specific period of time. It gave me great pleasure to share.
Donating furniture, clothing, art and other items to organizations that will make them available to people who want and need them felt wonderful. Giving books to the library so others can enjoy them gave the books new purpose.
2. I am clarifying my preferences and determining my style.
In the beginning my efforts were rushed and accompanied by little thought. I bagged up many items of clothing that meant nothing to me and gave them away. Then I became more discerning.
I had perfectly wearable clothing that I never wore, so I let it, and any guilt attached to its purchase, go. Four years later I have given away even more clothing, much of my jewelry and all of my uncomfortable footwear.
I have purchased few items, yet feel better dressed than ever. I appreciate almost every item that remains with me. I am in the process of figuring out what I like to wear, embracing Project 333.
I no longer wander aimlessly around department stores, look at magazines, nor concern myself with fashion trends. I focus on quality, comfort and striving to define my personal style.
3. As I release the past, I separate from the pain and guilt attached to it.
I realized decluttering was more than creating open space and repurposing unused items. It was also a process of releasing pain, regret and guilt.
It lessened the opportunity for ruminating about past mistakes or replaying regretful events because I was no longer triggered when I happened to walked by a particular item in my apartment or came across a specific piece of jewelry.
I felt that I was able to gain presence by eliminating the weight of my past. I became more hopeful, began to take better care of myself, and developed more specific goals for my future. I was more thoughtful and purposeful in my day-to-day life. I was more empathic and patient in my work.
Experiencing Freedom in Minimalism
My new love has adopted minimalism, and I’ve enjoyed watching him unburden himself of dumpsters full of paper, items linked with memories from the past, boxes of books and bags of clothing.
I am certain that minimalism will continue to help us find deeper meaning in this next phase of life as a couple and assist us in navigating the logistical challenges of daily life together.
I feel free and light as I take this next step on the path.