Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cleaning Up and Saying Good-Bye . . . For Now

Packed away clothing + overly eager dogs

I am terrible at folding laundry.  The washing and drying of it is easy for me to do, but afterward I tend to let the clean clothing languish in a wrinkle-inducing pile.  Sometimes this pile sits in the dryer, slowly picked through by the Best Husband Ever and I, and sometimes I dump it into a basket and haul it back up to the bedroom, promising myself that I'll fold it later.  I hardly ever get around to it.

This cycle of habitual non-folding eventually led to there being vast amounts of so-called clothing draped about our bedroom.  I say "so-called" because, after sitting in a pile for a month or more, can the dust-accumulating laundry truly be called clean?  Probably not.  But, more importantly for us, the piles were ugly.  Ugly, and not conducive to rest or comfort or feeling good about our home. 

My change in weight over the past year does nothing to help the problem.  Clothes that fit me last November no longer do.  Shopping trips to Goodwill helped fill the gap, but I also didn't want to get rid of my smaller clothing.  After all, both my body and my mind would like me to slim down a bit.  When I do, I'd like to have those old favorite outfits on hand, rather than getting rid of anything that doesn't fit right now and having to re-buy smaller sizes as need dictates.  Part of my reluctance to get rid of these items is sentimental, and part of it is practical.  Put this dilemma together with the massive amounts of laundry that needed attention, and I turned into an overwhelmed mess, feeling paralyzed against taking action.

This weekend, I came clean to the Best Husband Ever over coffee.  I fessed up that I didn't know what to do about my varying sizes of clothing -- that I didn't want to get rid of it, but that keeping it around was unmanageable and impractical.  Plus, having to face too-small clothing every single day was not helping my mental state.  Thankfully, he was able to offer me some sound advice (he is the Best Husband Ever, after all).  He agreed that it's probably a smart move not to toss the clothes I'm too big for right now, but also said that the messy laundry situation was making him increasingly more frustrated.  For the sake of our mutual sanity, something had to give.

So I took action.  Armed with two large plastic storage bins, I waded into the clothing mire that had overtaken our bedroom.  As I had already culled my wardrobe of anything I wouldn't (or just wasn't) wearing regardless of size a few months back, I didn't have to worry about what to keep versus what to donate.  I just had to organize it all.

Where has all the unfolded laundry gone?
Into the bins went anything that I would like to wear but can't due to sizing.  Into the dresser or closet went everything that I'm currently making use of.  Several hours later, the bedroom floor was visible and every item tucked safely into its new home.

This was an incredibly difficult task for me.  Probably harder than I should admit.  Not just because it was monotonous labor, but also because it was emotionally taxing.  I felt like I was saying good-bye to a part of myself as I folded clothing into the bins.

Cleaned closetSo many items hit me with a painful punch of sadness -- the jacket that I wore to church the day the Best Husband Ever and I got back from our honeymoon; the tank top I finished my first triathlon in; the dress I wore to my sister-in-law's wedding; the t-shirt from the 5K race where I was the fastest female participant; the shirts handed down from a friend that accompanied me to work, yoga, on runs, and through my skinniest and most scary times.  I stopped my organizing crusade more than once to cry.

But my day of closet-busting was not only tear-filled.  As I stuffed the storage bins with too-small clothing, I also felt like I was making a promise to myself -- a promise to commit to health, to honoring my body and God and the people around me, just for a little while.  I felt like I was promising the part of me, the part of my life that I was mourning, that I would be able to open those boxes a year from now and put those clothes on and have them fit, that it's just good-bye for now.

I realize that sounds a bit superficial, but it's the best that I can express it.  Let me clarify -- both my sadness and my hope are not about the clothes, not about fitting into a certain size or being a certain shape.  It's about saying good-bye to the white-knuckled grasp of "health" that I had when I could last wear those clothes, and about hoping that if I can ever wear them again, it will be because I learned how to live the way I'm meant to.

Those boxes are a eulogy.  Those boxes are a prayer.  Those boxes are my sadness, and they are my hope.


  1. You can do it! Congrats and courage on taking this big first step.

  2. Lindsay and James CoNovember 30, 2010 at 4:22 AM

    big steps and big progress! Binge out those clothes! What a good husband, you are right. ;)LC

  3. You had me scared - I thought the bye for now was a break from blogging!!!This resonates with me! I actually love doing laundry and folding it so no problem there. However I have gained 20 lbs since moving in with Johnny. The last 10 lbs fairly recently. I have many, many clothes that no longer fit - I'd say about 90% of my wardrobe. This has lead to the same heaps and piles of clothes you described. Perhaps I need to do the same sort, organize, and purge system. I really like the plastic bin idea too!

  4. Stephanie (dancingwaDecember 3, 2010 at 4:48 AM

    This is a beautiful post, Beth. This line, "Those boxes are a eulogy. Those boxes are a prayer. Those boxes are my sadness, and they are my hope" is beautiful. So often, it's such a thin edge between these things. Such a fine line that we walk, to figure out what is balance and what we are gripping tightly.Thinking of you,Steph


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