When my ex-husband left the home we had shared for years, there were empty spaces in the drawers and closets and bookshelves. He took a few pieces of furniture, leaving empty spaces where they’d stood. The garage bay where he’d parked his car? Empty. I remember walking around the house in those early days, looking at those empty spaces and feeling them draining my heart as well. It was a strange, fluttery emptiness, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.
After a while, I decided to take action. I set about going room by room and purging and organizing every space. After 23 years together, we had accumulated a lot, and since he hadn’t really taken anything other than his clothes, this was a long process. I weeded through boxes of electronics with the help of a friend. I culled our book collection. I cleared closets. And what I was left with after all that was more empty space.
I lived with it for a while – those empty drawers and closets and even a whole room. For weeks, “his” side of the closet and dresser and garage sat as a constant reminder of what I thought I had lost. Those empty spaces matched my empty heart for a long time.
Then I realized that empty space was a gift. Ironically, that was what he had told me HE needed at the beginning of his affair. He’d said, “I need space.” And while he was off setting up a new household with a new person, here I was with all kinds of space that now belonged just to me! It is, after all, how you choose to look at things that really makes the difference.
I set about filling those empty spaces with whatever I wanted. I took up space in the closet and drawers with my clothes. I made the empty room my office. I left some cabinets and shelves empty for what may come. And as I did this, I worked on my empty heart. I found a good therapist, I wrote, I meditated, I prayed. I took the emptiness and filled it with things that made me happy. And ever so gradually, my heart and my home filled up again with joy and peace.
I was healing, and it felt good.
It was around this time, about 18 months after “the ex-odus,” that I met a man. This man has a smile that will melt the coldest heart and a heart that is bigger than any I have ever known. This man, as I got to know him, became the perfect icing on the delicious cake I had baked for myself. His presence enhanced my world, and his love filled the cracks that were left in my healing heart. Being around him calmed me. After years of up and down with a cheating spouse and a heartbreaking divorce, this man’s love was a soothing balm.
Did that surprise me? Not really. Know why? Because I had made space for it.
Fast forward two-and-a-half years to today. This lovely person is in the process of moving into my home. And guess what? I am making space for his belongings just like I made space in my heart for his love. As I shift my clothes around in the drawers and closet, and as we clear and organize the garage and kitchen and bathroom together, I am filled with gratitude that I had the time and space and wherewithal to get to this point. I am proud of what I made with what I was handed – which I still think was a hot cup o’ shit. Y’all, I made CAKE out of that! And then icing showed up!
Empty space can be scary, but really, it’s a gift. With emptiness, possibilities are endless. You can fill it with whatever you want or just leave it for a while. You get to be a creator. And every now and then, just when you think you’ve created your perfect haven, you meet another creator with a similar vision, and you get to build a brand new world together.