Divorce and minimalism

Which came first for me?

Words by Cheryl Esch

The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The conundrum of that question is much like my divorce and minimalism. Although I began intentional minimalist living in 2019, much of the work had been happening years before with constant decluttering. Decluttering of kids’ toys once they grew, releasing books (my crutch and love), collections of items, my late mother’s keepsake items, my clothes, Christmas decorations, fabric for sewing (which I had six large Rubbermaid bins of), scrapbooking supplies, and much more. All gone. Even though my journey to divorce had started in my head long before it happened on paper, it seemed to mentally run alongside my decluttering phase. I knew the time would come for a new start eventually.

Despite all my decluttering and giving away or selling larger objects, when it came time to walk out that door after announcing divorce to my spouse, I had a lot more I needed to minimize. I did walk away with only a desk and a futon as far as furniture was concerned because I truly wanted to start over. Starting over was difficult but allowed for a clean slate in many areas of my life. Since I was now alone, my thoughts began to shift to the mental and emotional clutter I needed to tackle. We often associate minimalism with physical objects. My minimalism journey encompassed all facets of life: emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual. As I was unearthing scars from one area, another area of my life would be affected. It’s all connected.

Divorce presented the opportunity for me to “let go” and find freedom from stuff, overwhelm, other’s restrictions, mental baggage, and societal expectations. As I began to rebuild this untethered life from the ground up, clarity appeared as to what truly brought me joy. I’m not saying it was easy, but after spending over 11 years in a miserable marriage of nearly 23 years, I wanted only things that made me happy and resonated peace in my life.

Minimalism became my way through a divorce. Since my divorce, I have lived minimally in either a sparsely decorated apartment (I have furniture now) with two wall hangings and things I love. Or I have lived very small in an RV, which I will again return to in a few months as I prepare for a potential nomadic life of travel. I continue daily to lessen my physical belongings even after all those years of decluttering. Truth is, as I become more and more aware of what is truly important and valuable in life, the more I want to release the belongings that don’t matter in the end. Family, friends, faith, love, memories, and experiences are what matter and make my heart sing with overwhelming joy when they fill my life.

Cheryl Esch

Cheryl Esch is a mom of two adult boys and currently lives in Dallas, Texas. Cheryl loves hiking and being in nature. She teaches Pilates when she is not traveling. Cheryl is a travel advocate for solo women travelers and has her own podcast and blog.

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