Memories in a Box

Sleeping BeautyYesterday I started boxing up memories. This means preserving them, but putting them away so they don’t hurt my heart anymore when I stumbled across them. I have seventeen years of memories; they twine through multiple homes, various milestones, holidays on different continents and of course the lives of my children. It is difficult to box memories, impossible to pretend there aren’t happy, even joyful times preserved in those pictures, impossible to pretend they did not happen. Yes, they happened and I was there, that smile was real and those times were not false, they simply didn’t lead to the ending any of us wanted.

It is difficult to forgive yourself; your failures sit on your heart. Eventually though, they open the door to what isn’t yours, what you don’t own and how you didn’t fail. As I began to sort through hundreds of pictures, some in albums and some loose I realized there were two of us, not just me. Two of us who journeyed, two of us standing before the minister making promises, two of us living under the roof of our various homes and yes two of us fighting the battles. The problem was there was only one of us leaving, twice. Only one of us ultimately unwilling to fight for our marriage. Only one of us so angry they were willing to throw everything away. I realized looking at those pictures, both of us were wrong, both of us did wrong, both of us failed; not just one and finally I forgave myself and refused the entire blame.

Like many of you, I choose love. Always, I choose love when I can, when it is offered and I am not petrified, I admit I am often petrified. I also often choose to love the unattainable, the unlovable, the out-of-reach, those who do not wish love or stand beyond love. I think I know why I do this; it is honestly safer isn’t it? Because as I said, I am petrified, of love of being loved, or maybe of not being enough to keep love and being rejected, shoved aside and turned away from.

I have a friend, someone who has known me for more than thirty years she says on the face of it I am a romantic; I like the idea of being loved and in love. The other thing she says is I choose men who are ultimately not worthy of my love, men who will walk away or who I will walk away from. She says I will always love men who will remain out of reach, either emotionally or literally unattainable and in this way, I keep myself shielded from any real hurt or invasion of my personal space.

Is she right? I truly do not know the answer to this, on the surface it seems she might be. If this is the truth, it would seem I have another thing to forgive myself for.

My divorce, yes I finally said it, draws to a conclusion, the final decree being signed by both of us and presented to a judge sometime in the next week. I look down a future of alone and realize I am building around myself a640px-Aurora_and_the_forest_of_thorns protective tower, like Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty, no way in or out. No one is doing this but me, for now I think this is the safe choice. I might wish otherwise, maybe a knight willing to brave the wicked witch that is my alter ego or the protective thorn forest that is my history; yet, I have to wonder does that man actually exist? Is this simply my romanticism attempting to convince me to at least leave a light on, a way in.

For now, I think I will keep the lights off, romanticism held closely at bay no matter my instinct to reach out, choose love. Memories to box both tangible and in my head, fortunately I have the practice to be successful at both. The ability to express love, desire, fear and all the other emotions of our humanity will find outlets in other forms; thankfully, I have given myself permission to open new doors both those which I have always followed but kept secret and some new.

So for now, I wait to see what is next. Tomorrow is a new day; I find I am not as afraid as I was last month. Sure, there are still things that make me catch my breath and want to scream, not as often though. Certainly, there are things that make me want to fling myself to the floor and have a tantrum like a two-year-old, not as frequently as last month though.

For now, I will simply try to find small pleasures; perhaps they will grow and untangle and maybe someday I will put the light on.


  1. You might be alone but you won’t be lonely. You have friends, family and all kinds of interests to fill your life. Do you have pets? Now may be the time to adopt a dog. They’re loyal and bring so much joy.

  2. ***Like many of you, I choose love. Always**

    Love endures forever and ever.

    xxx LOVE from Duluth.

  3. I love your honesty, Val, and your willingness to ask difficult questions. I don’t know the answers. But you will never know unless you ask from your heart–another part of being a romantic, which is something I love about you, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I am not sure I love that about me right now Kathy, but I also suspect it is such a part of my nature it will not change. Difficult questions? Do you wonder, when do I get to ask simple ones? I surely do. Just one time, an easy one.

      I love you too, Kathy. I am grateful for you friendship and the gentle wave I feel when you are here. Thank you.

      Hugs back, always and to both of you


  4. I’m simply sitting and watching the process, Val, as you heal and move past the past. Those thorns are real but you do not have to wear them like a crown for the rest of your life. You will take off that thorny crown when you are ready. When you ARE ready, let me guarantee you that the champion of your heart will be there to meet you. He does exist, but he will look nothing like what you have known before. You won’t have the ‘old’ familiarity–the thing that has you choosing someone as a partner based on what you are USED TO. You will have a ‘new’ familiarity–the kind that speaks to your SOUL and tells your soul that you are finally HOME. This union will seem GIFTED to you because it is, but it will be YOU that has made the gift happen.

    There is one caveat: you have to dig, as you are now, and then dig deeper still to recognize your ‘pattern’ (we all have them, whether good or bad), connect the dots as to what started any patterns that have not served you well, and then raise your awareness of what is drawing you to people (what feels familiar and why?). The rest will work itself out.

    Your words resonated, Val. Your thoughts were beautifully expressed. Thanks again for exposing your vulnerability.

    Peace, baby!

    • Right now my friend, I have nothing but vulnerability. That is it, which is why I think I am building those castle walls high and begging those thorny bushes to grow tightly woven.

      Thank you my dear friend. The support? It is so very much needed.

  5. Valentine, it’s my first time here and I must say it’s been a while since I came across such honest and vulnerable sharing.
    You might not realise this but you have spoken for a lot of people in your story. You have put into words what they may have failed to do for so long.
    Hang in there… it will get better. The lessons are always the goldmine.
    Be good to yourself and take care!

    • Thank you, your words mean so much to me. I wouldn’t write these slices of my heart if it weren’t for the thought they might sometime help someone else know it doesn’t hurt forever. Honestly? I know it will, though there are hours in the day I think, maybe not this hour, maybe not this day. I am trying to be good to myself and those around me too, it helps to do this. The lessons, sometimes gold, sometimes something more. Thank you again.

  6. singleworkingmomswm says:

    Oh, Val…thinking of you with each step of this that I know too well. Lately, I’ve been watching the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” with Julia Roberts. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it for this processing time of your life. It’s been in my dvd player for weeks now, and I watch it in place of TV as I hit the pillow at night to unwind, finding tidbits to keep in my proverbial hat, to remind myself that being alone is a good thing. It is a necessary thing for healing, any type of healing, but especially from heartbreak. When people (myself included, as I’ve done it) jump back in the wide open sea of love before they are truly ready, know more of who they are and what they want and need, it only leads to more confusion. So, I’ve been doing this alone thing with some “detached dating” for many years now, and watching this movie reminds me that each part of the journey is okay. We will find our TRUE loves with open hearts when it is meant to be. Love you! XOXO-Kasey

    • I find, strangely I have been alone and healing for a few years now. I am processing this weird side affect of memory review and shaking my head as I go. Kasey, we will see about all that love thing and what and where and when, meh.

      Maybe, I am just meant to be alone now. Maybe forever with sort intermissions. Who knows. Certainly I don’t. For now though, this is fine. This is okay.



  7. At last I arrive! And At last you understand and are not holding all the blame,… Its a sad day I know to finalise a union that began so many years ago Val. Letting go of guilt is hard… We often hang onto blame either blaming others or ourselves.. And yet maybe Val its just time to change.. You both grew but in different directions..
    Tomorrow is indeed a brand new day.. A day when you can breathe deeper and pull to yourself the life and people you wish in it…
    Boxing up our memories is easy to do in the physical.. mentally those memories I know will resurface often at the most inconvenient times as something will trigger them to life..
    But you will cope.. as each day you will grow even stronger..

    Your friend is wise as she sees the patterns of those whom you have attracted into your life.. You said ” Is she right? I truly do not know the answer to this, on the surface it seems she might be. If this is the truth, it would seem I have another thing to forgive myself for.”,,

    No stop right there! for NO you have nothing else to forgive yourself for… We experience what we need to experience… Once we learn from our experiences.. we move on… Allow yourself this time to move on.. Allow your choices in ‘Love’ to be your choices.. Please you, not the other party…
    You spoke a while ago about your Dream Man… keep him in focus.. know that even now the world is contriving to bring you both together… I know not yet.. But he is there… and when you are ready.. He will appear… He has humour…
    Keep laughing Val… for you deserve Love and Laughter in your life… and I know your heart will once again sing..

    Love to you my friend
    Sue xox

    • Oh Sue, even in that dream man there are flaws. He is a construct, a message. But allowing myself time, yes this I am going to do believe me.

  8. We all box away memories – some good and some less good. I do it all the time. In any relationship – seldom is one person to be blamed, I reckon.

    I love your honesty, Val, and wish you well in your journey ahead,

  9. I would hug you right now.. Just saying. Your words are of healing Forgiving yourself and not taking what isn’t yours are so important in the process of healing.. .your friend is wise, and putting things in boxes, time doesn’t heal shit.. But making room for other things to grace a start in not having it so raw. Keep on keepin on.. You are gonna be all right. ♥

  10. I enjoy reading your blogs because they are honest, and honesty is such a rare commodity these days. You did the right thing to forgive yourself and realize you are not to blame for everything that happens in your life which detracts from life quality. You are a good person, tell yourself that every time you wake up and believe it through each day. Things will start on the upward track if you do that. Of course this will not erase the hurts and regrets of the past but they will be put into perspective as learning experiences rather than burdens to carry each day.

  11. I have no doubt that you are a romantic … I have no doubt that you are hurting … I have no doubt that you will love again. Meanwhile, here’s a twist on your friends comment …. Is it possible that you don’t give a chance to the ones who will graciously give you want you want? … Meanwhile, time is a great healer, so give time a chance.

    • Yes, I suspect she is accurate in her assessment Frank. As to loving again, I think I am a bit burned right now. Perhaps I will just stick to writing about it for now.

      As to the twist, you could be right. Time, yes it is and I am going to give myself the fit of plenty.

      Thanks Frank.

  12. I know that is not an easiest of journeys that you are on, but I truly believe that you find the happiness and, intimacy and many wonderful new memories. as you make this journey. Your post made me think of a line in a John Prine song, “The going is as important as getting there.”

    • I suspect that is one of the more accurate quotes. The journey right now is important, even if it does feel a bit long, slow, painful and at times heartbreaking.

      The other side of this is, I have finally pulled out my poetry journals and begun both writing in them again and posting here. Though that was a leap of faith for me. So far with only one exception, my leap has been met kindly for which I am grateful.

  13. I really feel for you but I know you are a strong woman. Putting much positive energy your way to help you discern what it is you need to get from your circumstance. Now that you’ve taken stock. Here’s a favorite quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “This day is too dear to waste a moment on the yesterdays” Try not to dwell on the pain. I know it is easier said than done, but just focus on moving forward.

    • Truly this exercise isn’t for dwelling but indeed for moving forward. It isn’t to wallow but for shaking off. While there are moments, they aren’t terrible.

      Thank you for the quote, it is a good one especially appropriate for this that I am doing.

  14. When I was younger, I asked my grandma if we could watch some of her old home movies, but she said no. “Why would I want to see those and be sad for what I no longer have?” I didn’t get it at the time, but these past few years as I’ve gotten older and my kids have grown, I do. Memories can be joyous, but they can also strike up intense melancholy for what we no longer have. Looking to the future can be more soothing. I hope your future takes you to a good place, and these painful times can be put behind you, just like memories in a box.

    • It is strange, isn’t it. We are reluctant to throw away entirely all those memories. As I pull out each of those pictures and mementos, I am transported and sometimes nostalgic even. Some make me smile, some just break me a tiny bit. So many are intertwined with family, parents now lost, children now grown; it is impossible to simply start a bonfire and throw them away entirely. Just as it is impossible to pretend all those years never happened, simply because it didn’t end the way I would wish.

      So, yes some of it hurts horribly. Yet still, someday my grandson will ask again what happened to his beloved Grandpa J, I want to be able to tell him with pictures. Someday, others will remember other better days, those still exist also. I am the keeper and truly, I don’t mind.

  15. Be well. Be strong. Be happy.

  16. I will always be here if you need someone to talk to Valentine, you will heal and come out stronger in the end, have faith..!

  17. I’m at a loss for words, Val. Memories you can hold in your hands are concrete, you can destroy them but you can’t undo them. The ones in your mind you can push back, but better to face them all head on, it w.i.l.l. get better, friend.

    • It is getting better Tess. I waited for this one until I knew it wouldn’t simply bring me to my knees. I had taken all the obvious ones, the pictures on the walls and on table tops and shoved them away, yet still there are hundreds more. I love being behind a camera and creating those memories. So I waited. I suppose reaching that final agreement and preparing that final decree pushed me to this step. But it truly is getting better. Being able to say, it wasn’t all me and I am not ‘all bad’, that helped.

      Thank you Tess

  18. Yes, it will get easier. You’re going through a necessary step to move on. It will be much better than you imagine.

    • It is getting easier, honestly. This sorting, sitting on the floor and looking, some of it is tough but I am glad I waited till now. Each day, walking through the house it becomes more mine and then also easier to consider letting go of.

      All of it, just hard steps. Yet, not so much.

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