“What are we going to do with all of the furniture?” I asked my boyfriend who had become my ex-boyfriend merely 24 hours ago.
“Oh, well you can take anything, or everything. Whatever you need, okay?” he told me gently. He smiled and left the room to continue packing up his things to move on to his new life, one that didn’t include me or the possessions we spent four years accumulating together.
A white-hot rage blinded me momentarily.
“I don’t need your shit.” I retorted, but very quietly, because my whole thing was to not rock the boat and be the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ who had an opinion about being broken up with.
Cut to 5 months later: I had begrudgingly kept half of the furniture, out of necessity. In hindsight, I wish I had sold everything, every piece of furniture, and moved out with my mattress and a suitcase full of clothes. As a broke uni student, it seemed more practical to keep everything to sell and replace it all over time.
All I really wanted to do was to buy some new lamps. No more of this “neutral” themed crap everywhere reminding me that I was single. And you know what? I have discovered on my journey of life that ‘neutral furniture’ is basically code for ‘black or blue’.
I had saved up some money and was strolling into the lighting store. What happened next can only be described as an existential crisis. As I wandered around the store, cash in hand (metaphorically), the world at my fingertips (many lamps available to purchase). I could not make a decision to save myself. Floral shades? Intricate stands? Plain but bold? Modern and sleek? Brassy and basic? Tiffany shade-oh fuck that price tag…
I was so overwhelmed by the variety of lamps I could own that I left the store, sat in my car and cried.
I know that this is a truly absurd reaction to have to variety, which many say is the spice of life, but my diminished palette could not handle the tanginess of choice.
My quiet breakdown didn’t really have anything to do with all the lamps I had to choose from but stemmed from the fact that I didn’t know what I wanted. It was the realisation that I had forgotten what I liked and maybe even who I was. A part of me had suspected this was the case but it wasn’t until I was standing in Beacon Lighting, trying to find a lamp, that it came crashing down on me that my sense of self was gone.
Months later after I had finally decided on and purchased some lamps, my new goal became clear to me: rebuild yourself by rebuilding your home. Material possessions would fill the void, right? A new couch would take away that awful memory of being ejected from someone’s life, yeah? An apartment full of furniture will remind you of who you are!
Cut to 3 years later: My bedroom furniture is completely devoid of heavy wooden pieces dominating my space. My lamps are in place and my journey complete. I sat on my pretty bed and pat myself on the back for the personal growth I had achieved.
I sat on the floor and cried because as it turns out, material possessions are not the answer to self-actualisation.
So, what is the point of this story? What have I learned from this? That I shouldn’t get so caught up in a relationship that I lose my sense of self or my preference of lamp? That I shouldn’t hedge my bets on furniture making me feel better? Or that the reality of achieving goals isn’t as theatrical as I thought it was going to be?
Maybe the lesson is that healing can be a long-term process that may necessitate achieving silly goals, selfishly focusing on yourself, letting yourself emote (occasionally in public), buying a pink couch (this may be subjective), changing things for the better or crying in your car outside of Beacon. For me, it’s about writing these experiences down to share with sisters and friends to let them know that it’s okay… I didn’t know which lamp to buy either.