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It started…well…a long time ago. When we were in the process of moving from WV to IL. Was it then? Or was it even farther back? Before we left MO for MD? Somewhere in all of that…Yes, considering the move to MD and the ensuing yard sales…I would say it started in 2006 then…if not farther back…the process of letting go of things. The yard sales were when I let go of the baby clothes…everything that was not irreparably stained or torn I had saved, from both children, except where I donated things to people who were really in need.
Despite all the things I have given away, sold, donated and just plain throw away in the ensuing years, there is still so much sitting in my house that I simply do not need and do not use. Why do I have these things?
The panic of OHMYGOD, we are moving into R’s house…like, every single bit of us and our stuff, not to use his basement for storage until we find another house, but as in this is now our one and only home…has been hitting me deep and strong since Sunday afternoon…Monday night was the worst of it for me…we were all tired. I was hot and irritable (PMS is always so much fun anyway). We were all coming down w sinus issues. Blah. Blah. Blah. Thank goodness R loves me as much as he does and that he knows me as well as he does. He took me home and we went to sleep. He would not let me stay up and fuss. I needed the sleep, badly.
But my brain, my brain, who knows so much more than I do, my brain who holds on to details the likes of which I find incomprehensible, rolled on and on. My brain was making choices, planning, separating, mentally packing, making lists.
Yesterday, when I was able to pry my loving offspring off the couch and away from the tv, we went to our house. My first duty was something I had started the week before because the Veteran’s had called asking for donations. I fear these charities will be sadly disappointed next year when they come calling, as there will be nothing left for us to give. But this year? They shall continue to receive an amazing bounty from us as we go through…everything.
It’s my closets. It’s always my closets w me. When I first entered my junior/senior year of high school (remember I took both together), I had barely anything. I had more notebooks of my writing than I had clothing or anything else put together. My grandmother sent me some bras and I can still remember looking at them and thinking…it looks like a harness…and not in a good or sexually intersting way…it looked like something you would put on a plough horse or a mule…ah, the memories…snicker…
Yesterday, standing in first one closet and then the other, I had some very major break-throughs, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Oh, the things I had been holding on to for no reason.
I had clothing for jobs I am never going to take again. I had khakis for one set of jobs. I had black slacks for another set of jobs. I had dressy outfits hung up together for another set of jobs. I had blouses for office casual. I had business professional outfits, which I haven’t worked since I was an intern as a teen-ager. I still have clothing from my wedding and my honeymoon w T. Ok, so I kept the dresses. Just a couple. I like them. I wear them. Even though I have yet to wear the dress I was actually married in again since 1990 whatever—it’s still beautiful and still me … I will wear it this summer, because I like the dress. The past year or two, I have looked at it and thought, I could wear it, but today is not the day. Yesterday I looked at it and thought, why haven’t I worn this dress recently? It took me a second to recall it was ‘that dress’.
I decided I would go through my closets ruthlessly. I kept only the things that are essentially me. Ok, so I tried to narrow down my jeans to twenty pairs, but that is simply not going to happen for me. It’s under thirty and that will have to do. I did get rid of every blouse that was not me, or that made me think of AR or anywhere else. I got rid of every top that I had a twinge of this doesn’t look right. I stripped away detritus where I had not really been cognizant there was detritus. I went through every single hanger, every piece of folded clothing. I went through jeans, slacks, skirts, sweaters, sweat pants, stretch pants, shorts, lingerie, socks, pajamas…every single drawer, every shelf, every closet.
I can honestly say that I think every item of clothing I have on a hanger can fit into one single small closet now…w the stuff that is not hung up needing only a few shelves. This is my entire wardrobe…all four seasons, plus maternity clothes. I even went through my shoes. No less than six pairs of shoes are being donated this round…anything that makes me the slightest bit uncomfortable is gone. I touched my sweaters and thought every single turtle neck must go…except for one, but that is made out of a silk-cotton blend and if every I devolve a sweater, this will be the one. I believe I now own more cardigans than I do pullovers. Scary, isn’t it? When I moved from MO to MD, I had two, maybe three HUGE plastic containers full of nothing but sweaters, plus the odd box of sweaters here and there as well. With cardigans, I probably have twenty sweaters, maybe. Twenty…out of originally…hundreds? Who knows…
It was so interesting to go through everything without the emotional attachments with which I have been approaching this process. This time I went in specifically…this shirt is me…these pants are not me…this sweater is me…this skirt is not me. No stone was left unturned.
One particular piece really brought it all home to me. This very beautiful lacey patchwork skirt, with little bells on the ties. The elastic has long been overstretched on it, but it also has a tie at the waist. I wore this skirt when we boarded the cruise ship on our honeymoon. I loved that skirt. I still love that skirt. I took it off the hanger, tested the waistband. Looked it over. This skirt really is me. But…it isn’t serving me right now. I haven’t touched it since the cruise, except to move it. I know I won’t wear it. I put it back on the hanger and started through the rest of the skirts. Then I stopped. I came back to that skirt. I looked at it. I really looked at it. I was keeping it only because it reminded me of a time when I thought I was happy. Before the ex opened his mouth and ruined that whole cruise for me…I don’t even remember now what it was…but somehow it was my fault that things weren’t perfect…that was the whole relationship. Everything was my fault, even though all he spoke were lies. That is what that skirt represented to me. In truth, that lovely skirt, with its wasted waist band summed up that person I once might have been but would never have a chance to be. The person he did not ruin. The person I allowed to turn and walk away. I made the choices…I chose to believe…not believe in him, just to believe him. I chose yesterday to lay that whole episode to rest and let it know some peace. That chapter of this life is over. The mistakes I made there and the lessons I learned there still reverberate through my life now, but I am not the same person and I do not react the same way. I am a different person now, someone who can take that step back and know it is me reacting and if given a second or two, logic and reason can reign, or at least be introduced.
I am grateful…although I am sometimes upset by admitting it…for all the pain and the misery and the agony and the fear I went through w the ex-husband. It is over now. It is done and gone. Now it is finally laid to rest, never again to be mourned.
Funny how things works out. The little things, like a skirt, that can characterize an era of a life. Now it, like so many other things, is gone from my life. I am not making room for new things to come in to fill up the space that these things have left. I have made room for a new life, a new energy, a new wondrous fulfillment—which does not require that every little space be filled or that every item lost be replaced.
As I let that one simple skirt slip into the bag along w the other donations, I felt the scar tissue in my heart shift and drop away. I felt the first cool breath of fresh air on the newly healed spot there, the bright pink flesh. It is a good feeling, that strange wistful pain that comes when the old and not so wonderful slips away to be replaced w the new and unmarred wonderful.
Despite everything that went away yesterday…and I am telling you, between clothes, throw pillows in my bedroom (the pillows are from a couch that I haven’t had in four years) and just a touch of the linen closet, I do not feel hollow, or empty, or in need of a shopping trip to refill the shelves or anything like that. I feel so full…so perfect…and completely satiated and satisfied. It is truly incredible. I have more than I could have ever asked for these days. The holes in my soul that I have used material items to fill and to fulfill no longer require such drastic measures. All of that need is gone now. I am happy. In ways I honestly never dreamed possible.
I have thirteen 30 gallon trash bags ready to be donated to the Vietnam Veteran’s Association this week. That was all gathered in one day…and that is not even everything. I have already started the plans for the next charity that calls to request donations, simply because I don’t think I’ll be able to get rid of as much as I want to get rid of before the VVA comes to collect what we have ready this week.