Episode 14 - It's Just 'Stuff'

podcast Nov 22, 2022
Do Divorce Right
Episode 14 - It's Just 'Stuff'
16:00
 

The Do Divorce Right podcast is dedicated to looking at the many different aspects of divorce,  interviews with women who have their own incredible divorce stories or those who can offer some great advice as you go through yours. Hosted by Becca Maxwell, a divorce coach and relational intelligence consultant, the focus here is to help you to find the strength and support to help you heal, feel lighter and in a better frame of mind to face the inevitable challenges of your divorce journey.

In this episode, Becca talks about ‘stuff’ and her past, how she got through some sad and tough times. She talks about some of her precious possessions that she had in her last marriage, and she explains why it was important to make the sacrifices that she had to make for survival's sake.

Listen to this episode to learn how Becca managed all of the challenging circumstances, how she found success, and replaced those possessions with the better ones and how she restored beauty to her life.

 

Audio Transcript

 

Becca

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘stuff’ lately. 

It began with thinking about engagement rings and diamonds. 

I had both an engagement ring and an eternity ring in my last marriage and they were SO beautiful. Oh my god I adored them both so much. There wasn’t a day that I looked at them with anything but gratitude and awe; how lucky was I to have these incredible pieces?! 

More than being symbols of the marriage or the love with my ex-husband, they felt to me like evidence of how far I’d come. I was just a small town girl from a working class family whose parents have had a pretty weird relationship with money their whole lives. 

These rings were the evidence that I’d made it! I was kinda wealthy. What a weird and wonderful feeling that was..

And when there was really no option but for the marriage to end, I knew that I needed to downsize. We needed to split up our possessions and decide who would get what in the split.

And as many of you already know, this can be such a confronting exercise - trying to decide what means more to each of you/ what you’re willing to let go of or negotiate for another piece / what you bought into the relationship and want to keep etc etc. 

It’s not easy.

And actually I think that I have quite a healthy relationship with ‘stuff’.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve moved house since I left home at 17. If I’m right - and I might not be! - I believe I’ve moved home 6 times since my youngest was born 10 years ago. There’s 6 homes I can distinctly remember, but there may be more. 

So I think I’ve become quite good at holding onto the things that mean something to me and letting go of possessions and ‘stuff’ that doesn’t mean so much. 

I don’t find it difficult to declutter and throw things away or find new homes for them.

I didn’t even find it very difficult to be generous with my ex when dividing our things.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t grieved some of these possessions. 

When I left my first marriage I could only carry two suitcases with me. I left with only what I could physically carry. I took the most practical, urgent things like work clothes and key paperwork. 

I always thought I’d go back for the photo album of childhood photos that my mum lovingly put together and brought to England from Australia to share with my then-husband. 

Or the antique Tunisian bird cage that I’d nervously bought at auction while we were together.

But no, he dumped the photo album in the canal in a fit of rage and likely destroyed my birdcage in the same way. I’ll never see these things again. I can’t share those photos with my children or reminisce over them with my mother. They’re gone. And I will never not be sad about that. They are irreplaceable. 

So yes, there is sadness and pain and grief in having to let go of possessions.

It’s not just stuff. 

They’re stories and experiences and representations of a different time. 

Downsizing, or ‘rightsizing’ or letting go of possessions - even just decluttering! - can bring anxiety - and I covered some of this in my podcast episode #2 with Jenny who is a declutter coach. 

One way to reframe how you feel about letting go of your things is to think of this as freeing up some energy and space to bring something new into your life. 

Allowing your ex to keep a piece of artwork that you’ve both loved, may free up the space for you to one day buy a piece that doesn’t have emotional baggage with it; something that you love simply for yourself! 

For the record, I thoroughly recommend getting a new bed. Don’t take that energy with you into the next stage of your beautiful life. Get a new mattress. 

There isn’t too much ‘stuff’ that I’ve had to grieve from my 2nd marriage really;

There was:

  • the car - that he stole while I was away on a work trip and sold, without my permission, even though I’d been paying all expenses on it in the year since we broke up. 
  • Artwork - that we’d bought together and that I believe has been abandoned along the way (I can only hope that it has found its way into someone’s home who loves it and I’d feel so much better about it if I knew that to be true.. So I’m just going to assume moving forward that it is)

And the diamonds.

My gorgeous, “I've made it” diamonds.

As much as it hurt me at the time, I sold the engagement ring simply to keep the kids and I afloat in our most challenging times.

More than a year after leaving the marriage, I learned that my ex had not been paying the mortgage on an investment property and the bank wanted to put the house for sale at a mortgagee auction - at the bottom of the market! This is a whole other story and I’ve shared this in a podcast episode with Julie Crocket of Her Investment Property podcast. I’ll link the episode in these shownotes

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0We1g3HtXQfIP4nFLNc7Z8?si=aa7120a17eb74d18

So I needed to work with the bank to promise them a mortgage payment each month to not sell the house until the divorce was final. And this created a new expense for me; on top of the increased rent and bills that I needed to cover now as a single mum.

Another 6 months or so after this I received some mails from our children’s school chasing the school fees for the next year. Initially I ignored them because they were in copy to myself and my ex, and his employer was covering the fees for the school. So I assumed it would be settled and I didn’t need to get involved.

Eventually the school let me know that the employer was no longer going to pay the fees and if I wasn’t going to pay, the children would have to leave the school.

There was no time to let the court decide who was responsible for paying for the schooling, and with the new mortgage costs I was already having to pay, I had no option but to say that we’d have to enroll them somewhere else. 

At this point I also learned, through the school, that my son couldn’t even complete his final few weeks of the term because his Dependent's Pass was cancelled. 

Our son’s right to reside in Singapore was connected to the Employment Pass of my ex-husband which had been cancelled. And so this was how I learned that my ex had lost his job.

My ex wouldn’t have a conversation with me about what was going on - not about the school or anything else. 

International school in Singapore is expensive, and there is no option for expats to go to local schools, so now I’m paying an additional mortgage payment, new school fees for 2 children (when previously I wasn’t paying any at all) and my ex stopped paying child support altogether.

I really had no option but to minimize ALL of my expenses as much as humanly possible. And it still wasn’t enough. 

So I sold my engagement ring.

My “I’ve made it” diamond. 

And that money helped me manage for a bit longer. I can’t even tell you what bills I paid with the money. Perhaps it was school fees, or rent, or groceries and bills. I’m really not sure. But I was definitely just scraping by at this point.

The loss of my eternity ring was a whole other sad story - perhaps not for today. I’m not sure that I can revisit that one too today. 

Instead, I’d like to come back to the idea of 'STUFF'

It’s been 9.5 years since my marriage ended and I’ve spent nearly a decade working so hard to rebuild.

I have savings again, and investments and I live a beautiful life that I am SO grateful for.

I still receive no child support and all financial burdens are my own; I pay the schooling, rent, mortgages and upkeep, groceries and utilities, holidays and outings myself. 

My children are well clothed and well fed.

I’ve been able to buy new artwork and other pieces that I love. 

And this week.. I bought myself some new diamonds. 

A gorgeous ring that has no attachment to a person other than myself. 

My “I've made it through” diamonds. 

So, I know, it’s not just stuff. 

And some things we may always be a little sad about losing.

But I also know that sometimes the upgrade is even better than the original piece. 

And I really want that for you!

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