I have these sweatpants; they’re way too big, they have a hole in the shin, and they have permanent stains from regular wear. I bought them about 14 years ago to support a fundraiser for children with brain cancer and they’ve traveled with me in each place I’ve lived.
A few weeks ago, during the Girl’s Circle that I was facilitating for the Central Nova Women’s Resource Center, we were discussing clothing choices and how the way we presented ourselves made us feel. We took time to consider the things we regularly wore and why, and my sweatpants were on my list.
Sure, they’re super spacious, comfortable pants, and they’re my go-to for when I’m at home. But I realized in that activity with the girls, that maybe, my sweatpants are a part of my past that I haven’t been willing to let go of.
You see, 12 years ago I was wearing my sweatpants when something happened that negatively shaped a large part of my life. That day devastated me, and it’s a memory I won’t soon forget.
While I made my list of regularly-worn clothing with the Girl’s Circle, I mentally scanned my closet for all the things I could likely get rid of; the things that I never seem to wear because they’re not “me.” As someone who’s quick to act once I get an idea, I went home and started going through my drawers to create a donation pile. I pulled out a few pairs of shorts, a pair of jeans, some boots, and a tank top. I also pulled out my sweatpants.
We all have things in our lives that connect us to memories; some good, some bad. It’s whether or not we choose to continue letting that connection to a material item rule our day-to-day thoughts. Can we continue to walk by that painting without remembering its origin? Can we dust off that old box filled with the past and display its contents with pride, or burn the damn thing once and for all? Can we get rid of the things in our lives that are keeping us angry, in pain, or hidden?
I drove to the Colchester Community Workshop this week and dropped off my bag of clothing. Someone else will soon be wearing a few pairs of shorts, a pair of jeans, some new boots, and a tank top… but not my sweatpants. They’re still tucked in my drawer.
I did not write this to say “and then I got rid of them!” and be the hero of the story. I wrote it to say that we all have skeletons in our closet (pardon the pun); some that we’re ready to get rid of right away, and some that will take time… And that’s okay. My sweatpants will still take time; I’m not ready to let them go yet. But I am ready to admit that they’re keeping me in pain. Maybe with this acknowledgment, I will stop putting them on when I’m feeling bad about myself or upset. Maybe with this acknowledgment, I’ll stop wearing them altogether, and maybe one day I’ll actually be able to let them go.
It’s okay to not be ready, and it’s okay to take things slow, but you owe it to yourself to be honest and acknowledge the things that are taking up too much of your space. Remember that you deserve to let self-worth, trust, and love fill the room instead.