The best piece of advice I heard when I lost my job was this: “Guilt wastes precious time. Guilt’s twin, false ‘productivity,’ eats hours, too. I hate to break this to you, but you did not quit your career to organize your closets…”
I have steadfastly maintained that I will not clean out a drawer or re-organize the clothing I no longer wear. The closet represents a step back into the life I left. I should seal it with duct tape and plastic, shroud it in darkness, or simply lock the door and lose the key.
The other day, seeking something besides yoga pants or riding britches, I ventured into my closet. As I scanned the racks a strange thought came to me. By not cleaning out the clothes or locking the door, I am keeping this option alive in my mind. “I could always go back to that life. I have the wardrobe, I can be that person again.” The last, huge, step to becoming me, is losing that niggling doubt and admitting that I will never wear that Chanel suit again. “When I become famous and appear at book signings, I will need these shoes and handbags.” No, when I appear at an event, I will appear in whatever “suit of armor” I choose that day, not the cast off vestiges of the former me.
The closet and its contents served a different purpose. Now it is wasted space, a museum housing memorabilia from the past. The hangers represent the threads and strings that bind those curiosities from the past to the corner of my mind that hasn’t fully embraced my sense of self.
I started on the left and worked my way, hanger by hanger, around the room. Three piles grew; one for things to just plain throw away, one for things that I have worn in the last year and one pile for things too good to merely toss. It’s hard work, cutting the strings and letting go of the doubt.