My Exit Strategy

It’s been 6 months since I moved in with him and I think I’m ready to get rid of my storage space. It’s an evolution within. When I moved into his house September 4th, it was on a hunch that this relationship could work. But it was just a hunch. So, to be safe I rented a 10×10 cubical in a cement building with metal doors where I put most of the stuff that had been in my one-room apartment. My storage space was my exit strategy. If things didn’t work out living with him, I had another life in a box waiting for me to start over someplace else.

It’s not that I’m cynical about relationships. But things do end. In 2009, when my marriage of 32 years ended, I found myself unprepared to start over single. I struggled to become a whole person again. More than a decade later, in the summer of 2020, even though I could feel myself falling in love, I wasn’t ready to put all my eggs in his basket. I wasn’t ready to put my security at risk again. Because things fall apart. My husband died. Everybody dies. It’s a Law of Nature. Having a storage space with my stuff in it made me feel like I was prepared for whatever might happen. 

Billie Best writes about her evolution within.

My storage space was a back-up plan for the possibility of failure, like the cloud is a back-up plan for the files on my laptop. I was backing up my life. Failure comes in many forms. Accidents happen. Illness happens. Death happens. Infidelity happens. My storage space was the placebo that gave me a sense of certainty about the future. Uncertainty wasn’t as frightening because I was renting a little room where 4 lamps, 5 chairs, a table, a desk, a bed, 2 end-tables, 7 boxes of books, 4 shelves and some kitchen dishes sat in the dark, waiting to make a home for me again.

Another internal conflict I’m coping with is my new philosophy of minimalism. Downsizing has been a persistent theme in my life since 2016 when I sold my house. Getting rid of my possessions was painful, then it was exhausting, then it was exhilarating, then minimalism became my new lifestyle. Shedding stuff and disengaging from materialism set me free in a way I could not have imagined until I did it. Now I find the idea of owning stuff oppressive. Having stuff in a storage space gnaws at me. Even if it’s some sort of security blanket. And that brings me to the question: Does a placebo work if you know it’s a placebo? Probably not. I see how having that storage space is a game I’m playing with myself. Do I really need to pad my life with stuff to feel safe? No. 

So, here I am at the 6-month marker in this new relationship re-evaluating my exit strategy. I can feel myself evolving, making choices about how to live a simple life, embracing the uncertainty. This love is no longer a hunch. It’s a work in progress. And my new exit strategy isn’t about holding on to stuff, it’s about letting go. I don’t need stuff to remind me who I am. I’ll be okay without it. My security is a state of mind.

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How to Use an Exit Strategy to Win at Life

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6 thoughts on “My Exit Strategy

  1. Dear Billie, Sad to say, maintaining some kind of exit strategy (like money in the bank) is just plain being smart about things – especially if the relationship is other than marriage (but even so…)

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