In the classic scary flick “The Exorcist,” when young Regan McNeil’s mom wanted to banish the devil from inside her daughter, she had to call in the God Squad. The result was all sorts of profanity, a generous helping of projectile vomit, and several unpleasant deaths.
Once the devil was cast out, Regan and her mom moved to a new city; after all, who wants to live where the devil once did? Unfortunately, not all of us can afford a change of locale after a traumatic experience, like, say, a breakup. Short of jetting off to Bali and drowning your heartache in fruity cocktails, the quickest way to exorcise someone from your heart is by ridding yourself of all the bad juju—and debris—that a rough breakup can leave in its wake.What You Should Pitch
Any and every gift he ever gave you that required you to feign a painful look of gratitude should go straight into the garbage. The uncomfortable acrylic thongs, any breed of stuffed creature, and that fugly “Chanel” knockoff he tried to pass off as authentic—all goners. Unless he’s a Crème La Mer man, all of his toiletries should be immediately gathered and tossed.
What You Should Keep
Some people toss every souvenir of relationships past, but let’s be practical. Those diamond earrings might be an ugly reminder today, but, honey, in five years you’ll be happy you hung on to them. There’s no reason to throw out (or give back) any gifts that you loved—especially if you can hock them for vacation money. Just keep them out of eyeshot and eventually they’ll lose their power.
The exception to this is the engagement ring. Etiquette is hazy, but most experts say that the ring should always be returned, regardless of who did the dumping. Bull crap. In this case, the heartbroken takes all. Unless it’s a family heirloom; in that case, karma dictates that you return it regardless.
Photos are another item that many of us make the mistake of trashing. At some point in life, you might get nostalgic (or just want to remind yourself how fine you looked), so either archive or tuck them away in an envelope somewhere.
What You Should Give Back
At all times, keep in mind that you might have left some things at his place and behave accordingly. As tempting as it might be to slash his $2,000 Thom Browne suit into ribbons, try to maintain your sanity and return anything of real value. Example: he let you borrow his Wii or his convertible—give it back. All he left was his favorite t-shirt mixed in with your laundry? Screw it. Who doesn’t need a new dust cloth?
How you go about making the swap depends on your comfort level. If you’ve had one of those mythical, amicable, mutually agreed-upon splits, then by all means, rally your team of fairies and unicorns and meet him for coffee. You can catch up and get your stuff back. But if the sight of him might cause you to go off the rails, there’s always the USPS. If it’s too big to mail, set a time for him to come pick up his crap, and try to keep your mouth shut and tears in check when he gets there. (Under no circumstances should you sleep with him!)
Once all the reminders are tossed, tucked away, or returned to their rightful owner, you can get to the business of healing. And scrubbing that pea soup off the wall.