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Reframing Emptiness: Gaining Perspective When a Relationship Ends

This is it.  The last day we share a home, a closet, a bathroom and utility bills. My husband and I try to look busy as the movers load the last of his things. The men remove the protective padding from the door frames and close up the back of the truck. Jeff (husband) rushes off to follow Two Men and a Truck to his next home. No time for a closure hug or a final look around at the space he once filled. He’s gone and I remain. The emptiness in the house permeates me and settles black and hollow in my chest.

I promise this won’t be a completely sappy, tear-jerking post on the sadness of divorce.

What to Do When an Empty House Scares You

The truth is I do not linger in the empty house.  I pick up my gym bag and head to my favorite hip-hop cardio class. The scene from the house lies just below the surface of my happy/cool/together facade as I ascend the stairs to the studio.  Two friends ask how I am doing and the waterworks and emotions sneak past my seriously wimpy and somewhat inept guard.  I quickly recover by focusing on the Beyonce song that’s playing.  I do not want to ugly cry all over the hardwood floor, that would be dangerous. Once the class starts and I move, sweat and get lost in the beat, I feel myself being happy.

After class: for once in my life, I am not eager to go home to an empty house. My friend, Amanda, graciously offers to have lunch with me after class even though I know her schedule is booked to the hilt. We have a good venting/sharing session over grocery-store salads and free cups of water.  The light lunch and conversation fill me up.

I return home and check in on Facebook.  I shoot a quick note to my friend, Kimber, telling her about my empty, sinking, weird day.  She replies with, Remember emptiness is space.  Space allows for creativity to fill it.

Space Beats the Heck Out of Emptiness

I begin to apply pop psychology to my notion of what emptiness is.  I reframe it as free space.  I alchemize it in order to see it as healthy and even beneficial. Instead of seeing what’s missing I see what’s present.  Loneliness, unfulfilled plans and an ache from loss become solitude, space to create and a reason to look inward. Now the loss feels more like a gain.:) What am I going to do with all this wide open space?  Whatever the hell I want!!  First and foremost, I have children to care for but my love life is entering a fallow season which could be just what the doctor ordered for my hollowed out center. I can write, read, pay attention to my friends, take classes, watch long-ass documentaries and chick flicks, explore career paths, belly dance, be of service to the universe or do absolutely nothing at all. Instead of wallowing in emptiness I can revel in space to live.

Later in the day I walk through the house noticing where the new empty spaces are; the spot in the basement where the couch used to be, the compressed carpet where the feet of the cedar chest used to rest, the visible white walls of the closet where Jeff’s clothes used to hang, the extra room on the shelf in the shower. All these spaces look odd but feel natural and comfortable.  I spin around in the now spacious living room. My mind feels uncluttered in the rooms with less.  I start to envision new ways of decorating the house (something my full brain has been unable to do for a long time). I have the urge to be thoughtful.  I text Jeff to see how he is doing.  I invite people I treasure over for dinner.

I told you I wouldn’t take you down the rabbit hole of divorce darkness. The message I want to get across is to look at feelings of emptiness as spaces to fill with joy, love, creativity or belly dancing.;)

What do you do when feeling empty?  Is there a void in your life that could be seen as an opportunity?  

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Posts similar to Reframing Emptiness:

A Divorced Introvert: Evolving Not Dissolving Post-Breakup (space2live)

So Your Love Isn’t Shiny and New Anymore, Now What? (space2live)

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

First One Over the Wall: What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over (space2live)

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  1. […] Reframing Emptiness: Gaining Perspective When a Relationship Ends […]

  2. Karla November 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your insights I needed to read this today I feel better. You never know the impact you have on others lives. Keep doing what you’re doing. May the blessings of God be upon your life.

    • Brenda Knowles November 12, 2013 at 8:22 am - Reply

      Oh thank you for contacting me. I’m so glad my words resonated with you. The best part of writing is connecting deeply. Peace and strength to you.

  3. Julius Babyetsiza August 29, 2013 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Wow, it is like you read Adam J Jackson’s 10 Secret of Abundant Happiness—The Power of Attitude, and put it in practice to the dot.

    Cheering you is a true saint of “Reframing Emptiness: Gaining Perspective When a Relationship Ends” which he shares in his awesome autobiography, “Destined To Triumph”—Part Three: The Wife Who Melted A Golden Wedding Ring Into A Tooth. I invite you to read “Destined To Triumph”, hit: | |

  4. Divorced Kat (@1stYrDivorce) April 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    I am still living with my ex husband. I cannot wait to move on (we’ll both move to new places), but I am terrified of exactly what you described. The moving guys coming, and us finally saying goodbye for the last time. Thank you for this perspective of emptiness creating space for opportunity.

    • brennagee April 11, 2013 at 11:40 am - Reply

      You will survive.:) The day was a blur for me. No time for long goodbyes. That worked for us, I think. We had already cried many hours over the ending of the marriage. This was the final action. The heaviness sits in a corner of my heart and I feel it still, but now, a little more than a year since he moved out, we have both set up our new lives. We are, of course, forever connected through our children. We are both growing in our new space.:)
      Strength and peace to you.

  5. Tara April 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Love this! At the beginning of last year, I wrote a post about the emptiness/space in my own house. I closed it with this thought: “Another word for ’emptiness’ is ‘space’, and space is a great thing to explore. Within it, I hope to bridge the gap between ‘hole’ and ‘whole'”

    It’s good to get creative with the space… much healthier than shoving something into it to fill the void.

    • brennagee April 11, 2013 at 11:30 am - Reply

      You and I are on the same wavelength. Thoughtful writing – hole to whole. Love your philosophy about evolving post-divorce. I absolutely believe you can self-discover and grow when you see space instead of emptiness or a gaping void. I’ve seen so many scramble to fill the spot of a partner. I know I needed time to breathe and spread out. There are definitely times of struggle but overall I’m reveling in the openness.

      I’m happy to hear from you Tara. You’re a meaningful connection.:)

  6. Debbi January 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    I like the “allwayssunmended” statement, “You have big blooms, they just need a little more room to spread”. I totally agree. I think the results of that will spill out positively to the people around you. What you have right now already does.

    I have too much space…which is possible, but I also try to read, meditate, watch movies, write, walk, cook, even simply peruse cookbooks, creativity books, and whatever lies in the creativity bins sitting by my couch, waiting only for me to look down and pick a subject, book, or project.. I have a drawing book sitting on a shelf waiting to be used and a tablet to use it with, but I need to acquire the proper, basic pencils. I am throwing myself into changing careers. The amount of time that requires would be overwhelming if I was simultaneously working. This week, I finally painted a silver collage frame black that had been in need of it for two years.

    Though I have a long road, I am getting better at using my massive amount of free time to grow instead of looking at the amount I have as being an overwhelming abundance of loneliness. I’ve had a little encouragement and support from an insightful and awakened blond girl with a winning smile in turning back onto the path when I freeze from the abundance of time.

    • brennagee January 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Right, there is a difference between being alone and loneliness. You can get to know yourself or long for attention, activities, things. All the free time you have is the perfect chance to explore,learn and tickle your creativity. You are doing productive work as well with your job search. This is your grow time. What do you most want out of this time? Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate all feedback! 🙂

  7. Connie K. January 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    I am so glad you came, hug, tears and all. It’s the stumble that makes the meaning of the dance speak.

    What is your favorite color ;)?……

    • brennagee January 14, 2012 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Connie your class was just what I needed. It showed me that I can be happy even in the middle of difficult times. I think it’s the mix of music, movement and community that makes your class so incredible.
      I love so many colors… pink, teal, lavender, burnt orange, the creamiest creams.:)

      • Connie January 15, 2012 at 9:33 am - Reply

        I see you in all those colors, but I think I’m going to pick lavender for your belly skirt!!!! 🙂 🙂 yes, lavender!

  8. brennagee January 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I think Jeff and I are growing in turns. I love your blooming branch analogy. I’m looking forward to blooming all over the place.;) Thanks for reading and commenting.:)

  9. allwaysunmended January 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I really liked Jeff. He seemed nice and fun. I am sad for your parting, but happy that you two had so much together while it lasted. Funny thing about two people growing; sometimes they grow together, sometimes they grow apart, and sometimes they do both in turns. But no branch blooms to its fullest potential when it always has another running parallel. You have big blooms, Brenda … they just need a little more room to spread.

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