That Damn Toothbrush

One learns interesting things about themselves when they lose one fifth of their world. I have discovered that I have three predominant ways of coping.

  1. Purging
  2. Shopping / Spending Money
  3. Keeping Busy By Renovating

Ben’s Olympic Hoarding habit drove me to the edge of sanity.  I actually feel a little shudder go down my spine when I look around my home office where I sit to write this post and recall a short time ago when I actually had to cover the glass door and never cross the threshold lest I disappear into the abyss that was “Ben’s space.”  Looking into this office gave me a physical reaction that mimicked a heart attack.

Since Ben died I think it would be safe to say that I have emptied this residence of at least 50% of the “stuff” it contained.  My home is not small so that is a lot of “stuff.” Much of it had zero sentimental value to myself or the kids (if everything has sentimental value, doesn’t that contradict the actual intended meaning behind “sentimental value“??) and so I sold it for cold hard cash.  I’m nothing if not practical.   The kids and I quite easily filtered through the piles of impedimenta, accoutrement, paraphernalia – also known as crap – and quickly found what meant the most to us.  The rest went buh bye.  How many guitars is it reasonable for one to keep when it is not their own passion?  I know the answer to that question … TWO!!!  That’s right.  The one that started it all about a dozen years before this picture was taken …

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and the last one before it all ended …

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Almost everything else in here was history and I moved at a frenzied pace with the sole goal of being able to breathe.  I don’t regret any of it.  I found most things very easy to get rid of,  but I continue to be surprised at the small things I can not let go.

Our entire closet was emptied of all Ben’s clothes within days of him dying because practicality kicked in and I needed the space.  What girl doesn’t want more closet space, right?  I saw no practical point in waiting what some might consider to be a “decent” amount of time when it was clear that no one in this home would ever wear those clothes. What difference would it make if I left the closet stuffed full and overflowing with clothing that would never again be worn by anyone here?  Ben certainly wasn’t coming back to wear them or complain about them being gone.  So I purged, and yet I found myself needing to keep his t-shirts.  I tucked away about 40 of his “favorite” t-shirts to be transformed into something awesome when the time is right.  I also have every single one of his ties hanging neatly in a row, which is odd considering he rarely wore a tie.  His hot tubbing flip flops remain by our back door, waiting for him to step right back into them despite the fact that I am re-homing our hot tub.  His tooth brush remained on our bathroom counter.

I commented to a friend the other day about my ruthlessness in clearing out our house and how I found it odd that I couldn’t bring myself to throw out his damn toothbrush.  It just sat there and stared at me and taunted me, day after day.  Many times I picked it up to toss it out and then I put it back down.  The very next day after having the toothbrush talk, my cleaning lady was over and she asked “do you have an old toothbrush I could use to get some of this grime out of the sink?”  Without hesitation I walked straight over and handed her Ben’s toothbrush.  Apparently cleanliness wins.

Most things I got rid of had monetary value, and being the ever practical one I sold them for money to support coping mechanism #2 – Shopping.  First it was clothing and some shoes.  Since I had the room in the closet now I figured I’d fill it back up in ways that made me happy. One of my friends walked in one day and took a look into my newly filled closet and said “Stop.”  I stopped.  (Thanks, Lisa).  Some of the clothes still hang in there with the tags on, but mostly I don’t regret those purchases.

I have also done some redecorating courtesy of the sale of Ben’s truck.  I know that Ben would have a fit over the money I have spent on the house because he would have much rather had the truck, but I guess that’s my choice now since he is not here to drive said truck.  I like to think that Ben would be happy that I spent somewhat responsibly and have not gone outside the budget I set out for myself, and also because coping mechanism #2 (Shopping) which kind of morphed into coping mechanism #3 (Keeping busy by renovating) has helped keep me sane.  After all, he rudely left my world and clearly refuses to come back, so he has to expect that I must find something to do to occupy my time.

I do know for certain that Ben would be 100% supportive of the travel we’ve done and the travel we plan to do.  One of his regrets that he voiced quite clearly before he died (how it hurts to know he had regrets) was that he wished we had spent more money on travelling and less on the house.  So you see, he’d support half of what I’m doing.  I’ll take that as a win.  I don’t mind being a bit defiant of his wishes, since he was assholish enough to go and die on me.

I know not everyone agrees with my methods of coping, but in the words of Rhett Butler …

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At least I haven’t started drinking.  Well, at least I haven’t started drinking heavily.  I will admit to having had to walk home last night after a few glasses of wine in the company of friends who make me very happy because they meet both of my current friendship requirements

  1. they talk about Ben and
  2. they don’t judge my coping mechanisms.  (They also take care of my dog when I’m away and they always have wine).

(I suppose they also meet requirement #3 – they invite me.)

This week the girls and I are going to make Ben very happy by taking off on a healing journey.  We hope it involves hiking and exploring and being with nature.  Maybe it will end up involving Universal Studios and Alcatraz.  We’ll see.  We’re flying by the seat of our pants.  One of the girls is thrilled beyond words that we are doing this, and one of them hates me for it.  I’ll let you figure out which is which.  (Zak is staying home and working. Someone has to.  lol).  I am very pleased with myself for committing to taking this trip for multiple reasons that I can’t explain.  Considering the way I was feeling this time last year, I feel like I’ve come a long way.

Speaking of travel, here are a few pictures of Hawaii that I haven’t shown off yet.

And then there was this:

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One year ago I felt like this (click here) and I was desperate.  I cannot adequately explain what living in a constant state of fear, helplessness and desperation does to a person.  But one year later I feel like I’m ready to head off and seek some healing, and I think that is probably a good thing.  I feel like I’ve come a long way.  And so we are off.

8 thoughts on “That Damn Toothbrush

  1. Hi Wendy. I haven’t commented in a while but have been following your blog. Your way is what ever works. Who gives a dam what anyone else thinks! I think of you often and think about how fast one’s world can come crashing down around them without warning. It’s good to hear that there happy times amongst the times of grief and that you are taking the time and steps to heal. Your blog while healing for you is , I am sure ,a comfort to others who may be going through the same thing. Hugs! Enjoy your next trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for letting me know you’re still reading. I write for myself but its always nice to know I’m not the only one looking at it. xo

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  3. Have a great trip! Good luck with the one that doesn’t want to go…. 😀😀😀 btw… I read every sentence too. Maybe you should venture up here for some healing. This would involve margaritas, horseback riding, boating and hot tubbing. Shopping sucks tho 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been following your blog since you started it and for some reason I feel compelled to respond to this one. I know we haven’t seen much of each other since you moved, and I really regret that. I so, so appreciate your brutal honesty and candidness (is that a word?) on this blog. You write how you’re truly feeling and that is so refreshing. It’s easy to spout a bunch of flowery bullshit but it takes a lot of strength and courage to be as frank as you are. You are the strongest person I know, not that I ever had any doubt! Ha, Ha! As for anyone who dares to judge your coping mechanisms, screw them! You do what you have to do! Stay strong. I’m always thinking of you and the kids. Enjoy your healing journey!
    xoxoxoxox Christa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Christa. Not so sure about “strong”, but “managing” and “reasonably capable” perhaps. Thanks for still reading.

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  5. hi. I am a widow, too, of 9 years. I wrote a blog for 2 after I lost Simon. I am finally ready to re-publish it for real. I am googling words for the title, and somehow stumbled across this. I TOTALLY get it. I never wanted to be in the Widow Club, but it is the best damn club, in terms of understanding. All the best to you.

    Mary Lou

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