“Does this item bring you joy?” The phrase has become ubiquitous ever since Netflix launched Tidying up with Marie Kondo. Participants on the show work with organization expert Marie Kondo to sort through, toss, and organize their stuff. The results are extraordinary, and have apparently inspired a rush on container and organization stores.
While not closely following her techniques, I’ve been finishing up a process I started last year when I sold my house. Sorting through, listing for sale, and getting rid of stuff accumulated through mine and my mother’s lifetime.
Like many divorced women, I fought to keep the house in the divorce. I wanted my son to have continuity and didn’t want to bring further disruption into his life. But, after a few years of managing everything on my own, I realized it was too much for me. I sold it and haven’t looked back since.
While learning to let go is an integral part of divorce, it can be a struggle to apply those lessons to other aspects of our lives. No more so in the area of our relationships. As friends in married couples abandon you during a divorce, afraid that it’s contagious, you may cling to those that stick around. But – do they bring you joy?
In the process of further cleaning out my closets, a la Marie Kondo, I sat down one day and took a good, hard look at my Facebook friends list. Do these people bring me joy? The high school friend who only posts humble brags of her kids’ accomplishments but never likes or interacts with my posts? Gone. The former co-worker, or the college friend who only invites you to multi-level marketing parties? Deleted.
It’s not a cruel thing to let go of people whose presence on social media doesn’t bring you joy, sometimes it can also protect your mental health. I’m a rape and sexual assault survivor, and after her rape one of my friends has become an outspoken advocate of survivors. While I admire her work, at some point I simply couldn’t take the endless stream of memes and shares on my Facebook page. An option that I used, and you can, too, was to mute her for a while. I didn’t want to end the friendship, but I needed to protect my mental health.
There are many reasons to prune your followers on social media, from cutting the list down to a manageable size to protecting your mental health. But, in Marie Kondo-ing your friends, keep in mind the give and take to friendship. You might have undoubtedly taken more from some friends when struggling or going through the hard times of divorce, and it might be their turn to rely upon you. Instead of rushing to cut them off take into account your bandwidth and see if you can set boundaries around the support you’re giving them.
In real life, with the limited free time available to most single moms, ask yourself who it is that you really want to get together with. Are you meeting that old friend for coffee because you look forward to your conversations, or because you feel guilty for saying “no”? There is nothing wrong with phasing out old friendships in favor of spending time with those with those who match you where you’re at now.
If you’re on the fence, consider whether or not the friendship is a two-way street. So many of us dealt with relationships during marriage that only flowed one way. We put in all the effort, we tried to hold it together with hope and a prayer. It can become a habit that’s hard to break, even after divorce. But if all the invitations to get together come from you, if you are the only one who contacts the other person, and all communication flows one way, it might be time to cut that tie.
Joy, support, love, and laughter, all things that you should find in your home and your friends. I’d urge you to try Marie Kondo’s philosophies out on more than one are on your life, that we may find joy in all of them.
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