I was a hoarder of clothes. Clothes protect my skin from the cold and the sun, from other people’s judgments, from a fear of not actually owning and deserving everything I have, from concerns about losing everything I care for.
A few weeks ago, I was able to successfully downsize and moved downtown to a little 1890s loft with brick walls and pigeons sitting on the windows. The loft is absolutely lovely, but it had one downside – it’s tiny.
I found the moving process incredibly stressful, as I was losing 2 closet spaces filled with shirts that no longer fit me, pants that are out-of-style, and gifts from people I am not particularly attached. I felt guilty throwing any of these things away, but I had to, in order to downsize 500 sqft to an apartment with no wall separation between rooms.
I have always felt a strong sense of emotional attachment to my clothes. When I was in college, and when my mother lost almost all of the family cash we had, and I knew investment immigration was no longer a possibility in a country that I have lived in for the most significant years of my life; when my parents fought like cats and dogs and my mother told me my father will leave us with nothing, and when I thought I would need to drop out of college and go back to China with my abusive family; I felt like an 1800 woman, who’s only posession are her personal belongings. That’s when I started becoming deeply emotionall attached to everything I owned.
A deeply emotional reason for letting go.
That’s when I discovered the Ann-Marie method. There are many great things about her book, but the most important takeaway for me was to find a deeply emotional reason that I wanted to declutter. I decided that I wanted to declutter because I wanted to feel free, I wanted to cherish the limited time I had in life, and I want to eliminate the sense of gulit I felt whenever I saw a piece of clothing I have not worn for years.
I wanted to be that person who can put on a black scarf and a trench coat and walk out the door, to grab some tacos with friends, to go on a jog with my dog, to read a book in Center Park. I wanted to feel like a 20-something that is relaxed, full of life, energetic, emotionally balanced, ready for an advanture, and not constantly drowning in my emotional and physical clutter.
Self-compassion and forgiveness.
So I started putting things away to donate, give to friends, throw away. I finally did it, I got rid of everything I didn’t need. I cried many times when looking at the things I had, a sense of self compassion washed over me, as I said goodbye to the past, and got myself ready for the process of forgiveness and letting go. I forgave myself for all the things I had obtained over the years to build a fortress around me, I forgave myself for not living fully, but living in a constantly dissociating state as a concept of a person. I let go of the people who tried to hurt me, whose words I carried with me in all the clutter I obtained in an attempt to protect myself. I thanked myself for being here this whole time, things came and go, and I am still alive and here for myself. And sometimes, that’s enough.
Even writing this, I feel such a sense of relief. I felt as if I was not just decluttering my clothes, I was throwing away my crutch. I am slowly acknowledging that I am safe now. Even though it felt scary, it was time to move with the few boxes I have to a place I didn’t know. Deep down, I knew I would never be fully ready, but with self-compassion, I was able to take a few key steps. Because I am safe now.
Are you a “collector” of your past demons? What do you feel ready to get rid of now? Please leave a comment and thanks for hanging out with me.