The weirdness of visiting the old family home

Separation is an emotionally tough experience. This is not only something I’m learning personally, but definitely something that friends have also shared with me too, and separation –> divorce, well, even when it’s a cut-and-dry situation where one party has done something unacceptable (like have an affair) it’s still damn tough emotionally, a rollercoaster of highs and lows.
What’s rather surprised me, however, is the ambivalence I feel when I walk into the “old house”, into the house where Linda has stayed as I have moved out and set up a new home for myself and the children.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about everything but since there’s such a sense of inevitability about our slow journey towards disassociation, I’m rather surprised to find just how ambivalent I feel when I walk into our her home now.
It’s not that we have different levels of organization and cleanliness (I’m tidier, but have fewer animals to deal with) but that it’s striking to me how quickly “our” stuff became “her” stuff in my heart.
I look around the house and see pictures we bought together, furniture we picked out at furniture stores, decorations we made together, and even little presents I gave Linda, and it all seems no more emotionally involving than visiting a model home at a new condo complex.
Which is weird. Somehow I thought I’d feel a dramatic “whoosh” as my heart was continually assaulted by memories each time I walk into her house, an overwhelming sense of the loss of our separation and divorce, of the pain, pathos and poignancy of divorce after almost 17 years of being together. But I don’t.
I can’t decide whether its a good sign, an indicator that I am making the emotional break from the past and moving into new territory as we all must do, or whether it’s because I’m just wrapping that part of my heart with some handy duct tape and suppressing the emotional response that I should actually be having.
Nonetheless, we remain friends and, heck, I am typing this blog entry in on Linda’s computer (that I bought her) sitting at her table in her house, having just set up our her (gotta keep recalibrating) network backup device so that she will have a reliable backup of her data, photos, music, etc. And it feels only a little different from how I’d feel if I were at a non-former-partner friend’s house doing the same. If anything, I’m struck by the trust that she exhibits by asking me to set things up on her laptop, but at this point it’s not like there are many secrets between us anyway. Even now.
For those of you that have gone through a similar transition, especially those of you who moved out of the “family” house, how have you felt / do you feel when you go back?

3 comments on “The weirdness of visiting the old family home

  1. My experience was quite different, but this is probably because, a) he never allowed me back into the house, and b)he moved someone else into the house relatively quickly. The house itself, doesn’t feel like mine anymore, but when I think about things inside of it, they still feel very much OURS…and it annoys me that someone else thinks of it as her own. Or I’m just incredibly damaged or something.

  2. I haven’t visited this blog in quite a while, I guess, so I was saddened tonight, upon ‘entering’, to learn of your separation. It is great, however, that things are so friendly (maybe that’s too strong…civil? that seems too cold) between the two of you.
    My folks recently divorced (it was final around Thanksgiving) and for the first time, today, my dad said to me on the phone, ‘your mom’s house’. Ugh. We’ve all, up until now, still called it our house. It is our family home, in which we spent a large portion of our childhoods. And my father still owns half of it – and we kids feel like we sort of own it, you know?
    I know this is from an entirely different perspective, that of an adult child of divorcing parents, but, so much of what your discussing in recent posts here is a part of some of my reality right now.
    I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time, and I appreciate your candor as well as your point of view. (I, too, ‘celebrate’ the day of my first child’s conception, and hold that date dear to my heart.)

  3. Dave,
    I was very sad to hear of your seperation/ divorce and yet I am happy to hear that you are able to remain “friends”. I am the second wife to my husband and he was so hostil toward his ex that it was hell for the kids. I had to stay and remain the neutral between him and her even when I did not want to. I attended school functions because he wouldn’t talk to her. I rearranged my schedule for the kids to save them even more heartache.
    I cannot imagine what it feels like to see things you share together because our relationship is not that close. For the children’s sake you are a good couple. Even if you are no longer together, you are still their parents and obviously good ones at that for putting them first! Everything happens for a reason and I have never been let down by trusting in God to care for me.
    Thanks and good luck.

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