I have no plans to have any more children, so I thought it would be great to have a clear-out of baby furniture and create more space for the new. I could have tried selling it but I decided to donate it to the refuge that looked after me and my children. For me, it is my way of fulfilling a desire to “give back” and heal old emotional wounds. I feel really uplifted as the items will go to a woman and her three-month old baby, who have just moved out of the refuge and in to their new appartement. I consciously only gave items that were in excellent condition and gave them a good clean, so that they looked almost-new. There is really nothing more degrading than the feeling of having to accept other people’s old junk because you have nothing better. It is humiliating and is not good for a woman’s self-esteem, when it is probably at an all time low anyway.
I am extremely grateful to all the people who helped me when I was homeless, had no money, no clothes and the children had none of their toys. When I left my comfortable, large home five years ago, my children and I could take only the things that we could carry with us. I left my clothes and furniture all behind in order to literally escape. When you leave such a situation, taking any excess baggage just weighs you down and you just need to get yourself and your children to a safe place. Once we were in the women’s refuge, I was too terrified and traumatised to go shopping or to return to my house to pick up my belongings, not forgetting that my bank account had been emptied! For the first time in my life I felt like I was a refugee and it was a further trauma on top of everything else. I remember it was spring time and the weather suddenly turned warm and sunny. This was lovely but all I had was my warm, winter boots and I was uncomfortable. A very kind woman also staying in the refuge took pity on me and insisted on giving me her spare pair of sandals. I am by no means a fashionista, however I have to admit that I am a bit of a fuss-pot regarding second-hand shoes. So when a pair of old-fashioned, well-worn sandals were produced, my heart sank. I know I may sound ungrateful to some, but it’s just how I honestly felt at that moment that on top of everything I had gone through, here I was reduced to wearing someone else’s old, smelly shoes.
Luckily after just three weeks in the refuge, an apartment was found for me and the children to move in to. I was extremely relieved to have somewhere to call home, but of course we had nothing to furnish this apartment with and no money to buy anything. A friend of mine, Esther had already brought over some summer clothes for me and some toys for my children. She then emailed round a couple of contacts, who emailed round their contacts and made an anonymous appeal on our behalf. The response was overwhelming and within a few days people were dropping off items such as: wardrobes (with a handy man to rebuild them), kettle, cutlery, crockery, bed linen, books and toys. On the one hand I was so deeply hurt that I had ‘lost’ all of my former possessions, yet I could see the generosity and kindness in humanity by all these people who had donated their items to us. After a few weeks of living in our new apartment, the children and I still had no sofa. I was hoping that my lawyer would be able to get a court order for me to retrieve some of my things. However, once we came to court all that I was able to secure was my clothing and the rest of our items were supposed to be shared out a later date. I was disappointed as I had hoped to reclaim my own sofa and it seemed so unfair that my husband was living in an affluent home while the children and I had to make do with charity. However, shortly after this, my friend Lisa came to the rescue, hiring a van and dropping off two red sofas which she no longer needed. These acts of generosity certainly lifted my spirits at a really hellish time in my life, and I will forever hold these people in high regard for not turning a blind-eye to my situation.
Five years later and I am still using some of the household items that were donated to me. Interestingly, my ex never did give me any of our furniture back, he used this to try to punish me for leaving him. We never discussed who should get what, nothing was ever fairly shared out. In the end, I got to the point of realising that I would not be controlled or dependant on him for anything anymore. The prospect of creating a new, shiny future became much more appealing and I realised that I did not really want this old ‘stuff’ anyway. It was time to make a new home for me and my children, so that’s what I did!