Tackling Tidy

Read “Making a Marriage Magically Tidy” by Hellen Ellis in the NYTimes. It’s delightful and made me laugh out loud several times.

She references Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which was my recent inspiration for the Great Purge of Spring 2017. I read the book a couple of years ago, but could never quite put it into practice. I just wasn’t in the mental space to do it successfully, but after a year of cleaning out the emotional junk in my closet, I finally felt ready to tackle tidy with confidence and grace.

I spent hours trying on every single article of clothing in my possession. I shed many, many tears. It was a cathartic cry, less about the chore of doing the work, but more about the emotional labor I was doing and what I’ve been living with over the last year.

I stared at the scene horrified. It was a physical manifestation of all my body image bullshit that I worked so hard to eradicate.

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This was the purge at its worst. At this point I was on the verge of tears asking myself, “What have I done?! What am I doing?!”

I held onto “someday” clothes, “skinny” clothes, “I’ll get back there one day” clothes. The perfect jacket that would look uh-may-zing, if only I were a size or two smaller. The jeans that would make my backside look great, but put me into forced starvation while wearing them. The clothes I used to wear that served as personal reminders that my body could in fact occupy significantly less space.

On the flip side, I was also holding onto “what if” clothes, “drown me out from the world” clothes, “I just don’t care” clothes. Jeans two sizes too big, an insurance policy should I ever put on any of the weight that I’ve lost. Oversized sweaters to help me retreat within myself rather than conquer the world head on. The clothes that lack a point of view, perfect for when you’re indifferent and want to remain hidden.

I thought about Kondo’s words as I evaluated each item:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

I parted ways with startup swag from companies I worked at or dreamed of working at one day. I said goodbye to dresses I wore on dates and special occasions that now felt dated and far from special. More importantly, I discarded all of my “fat” and “skinny” clothes because those labels simply do not apply. No more “what if” or “someday” because I’m dressing for now, today, me, here.

What I’m left with are clothes that adorn my healthy, strong, capable body.

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It took me a year of letting go of guilt, stress, weight, and bad habits to survive this tidy tornado. After all was said and done I discarded more than 5 trash bags full of stuff and donated 5 or 6 bags full of clothes. I consider this my final act in my year of radical transformation. And although I’m still very much on a journey, I’ve arrived at a milestone that gives me real pause – clarity, tidiness, and most of all, joy.

1 Comment

  1. I love the Modern Love column and particularly the article you’re referencing, but I think I love your thoughts here even more!

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