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I’m a statistic: just one of millions of women who have a failed marriage as a chapter in their life story.
I am also one of millions of women who discovered that having your heart ripped out of your chest can be a great way to learn how strong you are and to discover a whole new life waiting for you on the other side of the pain.
This is the story of one small thing I did to help me move from living in the past to walking confidently into my future.
Twelve years ago, my now ex-husband moved out of the house we shared. He didn’t take much with him, so that left me in the house alone, staring at mementos of our shared history.
There was the paint color we’d chosen together. There was the couch his parents gave us. There was the bed we’d shared. Everywhere I looked, I saw reminders of my failed marriage. Just walking through my house made me feel miserable. It was like living in a haunted house; everything around me whispered “you failed,” “you’ll never find love again,” “you couldn’t even do this right.”
One day, I finally had enough of being shamed by my stupid sofa, and I took action to reinvent my home living space.
Since I was on an out-of-work, divorced woman’s budget, I found some old paint in the garage and decided to just go with it. I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea, but I painted my vaulted ceilings black. Yes, black.
Then I painted an accent wall in peacock blue.
It was a hot mess.
The black ceiling was harsh and oppressive, and the blue wall looked like someone had projectile-vomited blue raspberry Kool-Aid all over it. But, hot mess that it was, it was also the best decision I could have made!
Making such unlivable changes to my space did two amazing things. First, it broke the space (and therefore me) free of the old story. Looking at the new paint colors might have made me feel sick to my stomach, but at least it didn’t make me feel sick in my heart. I was no longer looking at the same space, and that meant I was no longer looking at the same life.
Second, because it was so horrible, it gave me the opportunity to reinvent my space with intention. Free to shape the house anew, I bought paint at Home Depot and transformed it into a feminine retreat full of soft pastel colors—lavenders and pinks and sea-glass green. I sold all my old furniture and I bought all “new” furniture on Craigslist, including the most wonderful vintage turquoise velvet sofa. I turned it into a no-boys-allowed paradise—a space where I could heal. It was perfect.
I know a lot of people find choosing a paint color or changing things in their house terrifying. But if your whole world has just fallen apart, picking a paint color is a relatively small risk, with the potential for huge reward.
It is certainly easier than finding a new place to live. It is less destructive than drowning your sorrows at the bottom of a bottle of whiskey (mmm, whiskey!). And it’s less painful than confronting the fear that you’ll never be loved again. Best of all, it really can work magic. Because, even if you don’t break out that paint roller with the intention of starting a new chapter in your life, changing your surroundings can help to give you a way to see the world with new perspective.
I painted my ceiling black, it was ugly as f*ck—but the world didn’t end.
So, why not take a risk and see what a little change of view can do for you?
I don’t know if paint and pillows can change the world—but I do know that they can help change your world.