This post was originally written Spring 2012. I never posted it. I remembered this draft over the weekend thanks to our yard sale. I decided to review it after tweeting with friends about the emotional memories of clothes. I still haven’t accepted myself completely (hence the whole perfection challenge). But I think this may be worth posting, after all.
I hadn’t realized, until this week, how many emotions get woven into the fabric of our clothes. How many memories could live in a single T-shirt, how many past wounds could be forgiven by merely giving the clothes away.
This week, I’ve gone through the process of purging my closet, my dresser, and most importantly, my attic.
I hadn’t wanted to sign up for the neighborhood yard sale at first, saying it was an awful lot of work. But when I told Ethan that excuse, he scoffed, “Nothing is a lot of work compared to what you people do for fun!” Obviously, I have no more excuses and I am preparing for the sale.
We’re clearing clutter, attacking problem areas in the house so we can keep things tidy more easily over time. It’s a stress-reduction program, via yard sale.
To my surprise, it has also been a mental and emotional clutter-clearing experience. Most of this pysche-purging is surrounding clothing.
Seven years ago, I dropped 60 lbs in 6 months. I kept it off for two and a half years. I felt like it was my right weight, that it was the closest I’ve come to my ideal shape and size. Everything fit me. I could yank clothes off the rack and know they would fit and look fabulous. I became, for about two years, a total clotheshorse.
Inevitably, as is the way of things, I gained back 30-40 of those pounds in the intervening time. When those “skinny clothes” no longer fit me, I packed them away carefully. No shoving clothes in garbage bags like I do every spring and fall. I boxed them. I folded them. I probably cried as I packed them up. And they have been neatly stacked in my attic for years. Waiting for me to lose the weight and get back into them. Waiting for my duathlon training, or a trainer, or this diet, or that test result – something… anything – to kick in and let me lose the weight again.
Beautiful clothes, trapped away. Waiting.
I’ve held my current shape and size for four years, and I’m just now coming to terms with it. I’m no longer looking for the next big idea, the race, the self-flagellation of imperfection and a weak will. Self-acceptance is not easy – any women will attest. It gets tested – often. I’ve examined with mindfulness the feelings I have surrounding my weight. Feelings of helplessness, anger, failure, contempt, guilt and shame. And with this inner urgency to love, forgive and accept myself and my body – to be a little kind to me for once in my life – I’m getting rid of my “skinny clothes”.
As I launder, sort and fold, hang and iron these clothes, I notice a lightness inside me. I notice a sense of relief.
Sure, I might be that size again. And certainly my budget will groan at the expense of having to replace this fine wardrobe. But I think about all of the guilt and shame woven into these clothes, and I don’t want to wear them again. They have been a tool of torture for me, silently sitting in their neatly folded packages.
As I remember the once I wore this dress, or the ways I wore that skirt, I enjoy the memories of what I did and who I was with – not what size I was.