THE NARRATIVE ARC

Moving to the Beach With My Ex-Husband — Till Death Do Us Part?

Packing and unpacking boxes takes me on a journey through my marriage and divorce

Martha Manning, Ph.D.
The Narrative Arc
Published in
8 min readMay 9, 2024

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Piles of cardboard boxes with strings of flowers
Photo by Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash

Damn boxes

I stand, knee-deep in the storage unit of our apartment. Having waded into the chaos with energy and purpose, I now feel trapped. It is the inevitable result of being in the midst of a big project. I’ve invested too much time and energy to turn back. But looking ahead at all that’s left to do, makes me want to flee.

At least 50 boxes balance precariously against and on top of each other. The farther I move towards the oldest ones, the more I risk a cave-in. But I have to deal with them. My ex-husband and I are moving to the beach in ten days, and it’s just not going to happen until I deal with this stuff.

All of this stuff.

These boxes take me to the past and the future, while I try like hell to stay in the present. I fight to quiet the doubts that crawl like a stock market ticker across my mind. How did I get to this moment? What does it mean for my future? What am I doing with this man who hurt me so badly?

The boxes sag and smell of damp cardboard and mildew. They have long lost their markings, so I am…

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Martha Manning, Ph.D.
The Narrative Arc

Dr. Martha Manning is a writer and clinical psychologist, author of Undercurrents and Chasing Grace. Depression sufferer. Mother. Growing older under protest.