Sifting through the Past

The thing about moving is, you always find little pieces of history and memories laying around, waiting to be discovered. Or at least if you are a pack rat like me, who dreads throwing anything out, in case I may “need” it one day.

After a year-and-a-half of being married (and thus, a year-and-a-half since I moved out of my parents house), I was kindly informed that it was time to move all my belongings from their house. I don’t even know how I got away with keeping things there that long – probably because my parents realized how small the place was – but when we moved into the new house, I was left with no excuses.

Of course, I didn’t simply throw away all the items that I clearly hadn’t used or ‘needed’ in the past year-and-a-half – no, I decided to sort through everything.

Lo and behold, pieces of my past came crashing through.

A few were welcome – childhood memorabilia, old writing projects… But then there were the items from past relationships. Now, my dating history isn’t vast. There was a summer romance for a French boy – which was definitely more trouble than it was worth. And there was Bob (not his real name) – the only other guy I’d ever dated. Bob and I had been together 2 years, on and off. On for year-and-three-quarters or so, then I broke up with him, and then I followed a mad, and very dumb, impulse to get back together with him for a month or so after a summer apart. Bob and I were wrong for each other. I was young and unaware of what I wanted in life – he was a few year’s older and knew exactly how he wanted me to be – even if that’s not what I wanted.

The relationship is old news. We broke up when I was 19 – almost 6 years ago. I’ve been married 2 years, and he’s been married a few months now. So, when I stumbled across the locket he gave me for our one-year dating anniversary – I felt like I opened a cupboard to the past.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t care for him anymore. I’m madly in love with A and there’s no room for anyone else. Sure, Bob will always be special in that first boyfriend kind of way, but that is all. And truly that wasn’t the issue. The issue was, I knew it was in the past, A knows it’s in the past – so is it wrong to wear a locket that an old boyfriend gave me?

My heart says yes. A says to do whatever I feel like doing. He’s not the jealous type really, or at least he wouldn’t admit it. But, I feel it’s disloyal. And yet, it’s beautiful and I’d always wanted a locket, so I can’t bring myself to throw it out.

I’ve dabbled with the idea of giving it away. I had offered to give it back to Bob when we broke up, but he refused. I’ve thought of giving it to one of my nieces, but that seemed strange. To keep it for a future daughter that may or may not be, also seemed very strange. That is what I will do with pieces A gave me, not a person that has no meaning to me any more.

The locket will always remind me of Bob – so should I just keep it tucked away in a box of the past – or is that like I’m not letting go of the past? I don’t feel like I’m holding on to Bob, or the idea of Bob, but would keeping the locket seem like I am? Is it wrong to keep mementos and pictures of the past, or should they be tossed, burned, discarded?

These are questions I struggle with.

And, that is why I wish it had continued to be “lost” and then no decision would have to be made.


– Inspired by prompts 1 & 4 of this week’s  Sleep is For the Weak Writing Workshop.


7 thoughts on “Sifting through the Past

  1. I know that feeling! I have a present from my ex in a box, I can’t bring myself to throw it away because I know how much time and effort he put into it, and it was the most romantic present I had ever got. I think it’s tough when you’ve spent a long time with someone and it doesn’t work out, there’s no hard and fast rules. I think it’s just a case of what feels right to you.

    • Yes, it is difficult. It will most likely stay tucked away in a box forever… There can’t be any harm in that – my husband knows it’s there and if it doesn’t bother him, that’s all I care about. Maybe someday I will make an actual decision.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  2. You should definitely keep it! There will come a time when it won’t feel wrong to wear it, when it will just bring back fond but harmless memories. You’ll love wearing it, because it will be part of who you are – it was 18 months of your life, after all! And maybe for now it can stay in the cupboard.

  3. One of things I regret most in my life is destroying a whole pile of stuff from time in a bad relationship. Even now, 15 years on, I wish I had kept it, if only for a time in another 20 or 30 years when I know the memories will have faded and I will be desperate for something to remind me of such a significant time in my life, however hard.

    Keep it :) Put it in the back of drawer somewhere to look at in another ten years. Memories are too important to give away.

    Thanks for this beautiful piece x

    • Hi Josie! Thanks for reading my post – I’m sure that I would regret it one day if I were to throw everything away. After all like you and Sandrine mentioned, it’s still a significant part of who I am. That relationship taught me so much about myself, about love, and about true friendships.
      I’m loving your Writing Workshop – it’s fast becoming a highlight of my week! :)

  4. Pingback: Make or Break « The Undomestic Working Housewife

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