Have you ever watched the movie Waiting To Exhale? It’s a story about four women, all different, going through various stages of love, divorce, and life. Bernadine, played by Angela Bassett, sacrifices her career to prioritize her husband, who leaves her for another woman. Usually poised and passive, she transforms into her inner badass after hearing the news. In one scene, she takes all of his clothes, golf clubs, and possessions, throws them in the front of the house, covers them with lighter fluid, lights a cigarette with a match, and drops it on top of the pile. Boom.
In the early stages of my divorce, I looked for opportunities for my “Waiting to Exhale Moment.” Eventually, I settled by throwing photographs and papers into a trash can. Not quite as dramatic and dare I say fulfilling at the time, but it resonated with me. No matter what caused your divorce, a formal release of your partner can be cleansing and freeing. There is no specific way to do this; however, I will share some ideas I have practiced through my journey. Some will work for your ex, some may work for a friendship that is no longer serving you.
Music tied me to my ex. My best friend sent me a “New Lease on Life Playlist in the early stages of my journey.” The playlist energized me and made me reevaluate the music I was listening to. Music plays a large part in my life. Slowly, I moved out songs I connected to with my ex and moved in new songs. Why pour salt on a fresh wound? If music is a part of your life, consider asking friends and colleagues for further recommendations. Create a new playlist for your life.
Shared possessions with my ex were a visual reminder of my past. It was time to declutter my life. Please refer to my blog post, “Let’s KonMari Your Life,” for more information. Transitioning, some of our treasured purchases helped clear my space and my mindset. As a visual learner, my space and environment can severely impact my mood.
Luckily the universe helped me with my photographs. Before moving with my ex to our last home together, lightning struck my Mac and wiped out my hard drive. At the time, I was devastated to lose all my digital images. Little did I know that this would be a total blessing. I sorted through my pictures several times. In the beginning, I wanted to destroy all of them. I will tell you that no matter how your divorce unfolded, your past is your past. It was actually my current husband who encouraged me to keep a few pictures of my first wedding. This is a personal choice, and if you have any doubt, keep a few things, and revisit them once more time has passed.
These days it’s hard to escape from seeing someone in your past with social media. In my case, I decided to create an entirely new set of social handles and close my old ones down. I didn’t make a formal announcement, I just let it happen. If you are going through a turbulent situation, I will encourage you to take a break from social media. Many studies link it to depression, and if you are in a time of fluctuation, it’s the last thing you need.
Although I promised to stay friends with my ex’s family and friends, I ultimately decided to part ways. For me to start fresh, I needed to do this. Your situation may not allow this; however, I encourage you to find new connections and friends that coincide with your current situation. When I was single, I needed single girlfriends. I did decide to share my why for close family members, but the rest I let slip away. Give it some time. If a relationship is no longer serving you, it’s time to part ways.
One of the most transformational tools I used was to write a letter to my ex and then burn it. (You knew I would get my Bernandine moment in there somehow). I wrote all the hopes and dreams I had for our relationship and our future plans in the letter. Somehow writing this down and then releasing it helped me start fresh. I encourage you to try this, but remember, there is no need to mail this letter; it’s just for you. It’s time to be selfish.
After working with a coach, I recently performed a karmic cleanse while walking through the aspen laced forest in Flagstaff, Arizona. Yes, it’s definitely up there with one of the most “new age” things I have done, and I loved it. Let me preface this by saying if I tried it right after my divorce, it would have never served me. Things come to you when you are ready. She had me repeat the Ho’oponopono prayer during the walk, which is an ancient Hawaiian practice for forgiveness and reconciliation.
I am sorry.
I forgive you.
I love you.
This practice’s foundation is unity and believing that each person has come into your life to teach you. Some times you will enjoy the experience, and some times you won’t. At first, I resisted this practice. It took me about a decade to see how my life transformed from each situation I have encountered, both good and bad. Let me reemphasize this; reflection and transformation take time. Be patient with yourself and your journey.
Whatever method you try, I encourage you to do something to release your past relationship. Whether it’s hosting a divorce party with friends or doing something quiet and introspective, gift yourself the time.
What has worked for you? I would love to hear what kind of formal release you have done of your partner.