Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Purge of '08

44 Hangers.

That's all I have left.

44 hangers, filled with:

2 wool jackets
6 skirts
6 fine-gauge sweaters
1 semi-casual dress
3 camis
8 sweatshirts and athletic t's
3 long-sleeved, fitted t's
6 short-sleeved, fitted t's
2 button-up shirts
2 cardigans - one handknit
1 vest
1 pair dress slacks
1 pair jeans
3 misc. shirts

It sounds like a decent amount until you take into account that all of the fitted shirts really are on their last legs, and won't make it through the winter. The sweatshirts are only still there because I have to have something to wear, although I really haven't worn them in years. Half of the skirts are summer skirts that I won't be able to wear for more than another month or so. In addition to the little left on my hangers, I have a few pieces of exercise gear, a sock drawer (happily full of handknit socks) and a mostly-empty undie and pj drawer. Granted, I have a rather full drawer of lace shawls....but that's not exactly the most practical of abundancies to have.

You should also know that there is now one large plastic bin full of 'memory clothes' that I will never be able to wear again heading down to the basement today. It's full of things like high school musical t's, homecoming dresses, dresses made by Mom and other things that I can't bare to part with - but really don't need to see on a regular basis. There are also three garbage bags full of clothes waiting to be taken to the Salvation Army.

So what happened? Why the gigantic, and rather severe purge of my closet and drawers? Why leave myself with so little to wear?

Two nights ago, I had a conversation with my acupuncturist about my tendency to hold onto things when I really should let go. I had worn my wedding ring - the one chosen for me by my husband - to the appointment on a chain around my neck. I haven't worn it on my ring finger in almost six years, having grown too large to wear it during my first pregnancy. I was too proud to resize it, just knowing that 'soon' I would be able to wear it again. My acupuncturist - always one to notice details - had noticed the ring and had asked about it. (Normally I wear a ring that I purchased last summer as a replacement. Before that I borrowed one of Mom's rings.) I finished my tale as she finished working on me. When she was done, she looked me in the eye and asked me to think about what I was doing to myself by carrying such a heavy weight around my neck.

She went on to talk to me about feng shui (sp?), and about how our environmental often reflects our state of mind. Look to find where some one's clutter piles up, she said, and you often find clues to what's bothering them or holding them back. She told me that it goes both ways - if you clean up your home, keeping only what you really love and/or use regularly, you can often create the change needed to resolve emotional stuff.

By the time I made it to the coffee store where I relax after my appointments, I had made a few big decisions, and yesterday I took action. I took the ring to our jewele for an estimate on resizing, I decided to gift a sweater I had made last year, and I faced the closet. It took all of yesterday afternoon to empty the closet and drawers, and then it took until this morning before I could box up and get rid of the carnage. Yes, it hurt. I had to force myself to get rid of things that I truly loved, but hadn't been able to wear in years. I kept reminding myself that most of those beloved pieces were already ten years old and hopelessly out of date and were not likely to work on my post-baby shape even if I did manage to get into them again. I was ruthless because it was needed.

I called a friend in near-panic at one point, and she promised me that we would have a wonderful time shopping when I was ready. My husband assures me that I will feel better in a week, and I know he's right. Fortunately, I had a knitting and chair massage party to go to last night, which was definitely needed after such hard work.

I'm not writing about this to either wallow in self-pity or evoke sympathy. Rather, I am hoping that this does allow me to truly let go and move on. I need to take my life - and my health - day by day, and I need to make sure my environment sets me up for success. That means I have to stop setting artificial goals, buying clothes just a bit too small, using my ring as an incentive, leaving old clothes in the closet to remind me of my glory days, or denying myself clothes in general because I 'don't deserve' nice things just because I'm no longer a size 8. This is not a way to live...and obviously I haven't been. Once the dust has settled, I know I'm going to feel so much better. It definitly feels as if I've done the right thing.

Plus - and this is a post for tomorrow, so long as I get a picture - one very, very happy thing has come out of all of this already. One of my handknit sweaters found it's true home, and my knitter's heart is singing today because of that.


Paula said...

You will definitely feel liberated when you look in your closet and only see the clothing you can wear and LIKE wearing. Plus, it is easier to maintain a tidy closet when you have fewer pieces of clothing. Your acupunturist hit the proverbial nail on the head! Congratulations on a well-done purge!

Shelda said...

You GO, girl! She's right (she usually is), and I bet you feel much better, quite soon. Maybe you'll inspire me to get on with the yarn flinging!

Jenn said...

I'm glad I could help give your sweater a good home! I love it and will cherish it always... And I'll always smile when I wear it because I'll think of my BKB!!! ;-)

Thank you!

Kate (Cathy) Johnson said...

Your acupuncturist IS wise! You will indeed feel better, and you really make me think about some of the stuff I've hung onto, too. J.'s been helping with this, cleaning out the attic, getting rid of stuff, and helping me to see that I don't need to keep things that are hopelessly out of date because "I might need them." But I have a long, long way to go...

I'm proud of you!