Saturday, May 21, 2011

Note to Self: Stop Hoarding

Trouble has been brewing in our bedroom for quite a while. Not in the bed area, thank you, but in the dresser, closet, closet floor, top of the dresser, and now the floor all around the dresser. The problem is that my husband and I are both clothes hoarders. I'm the "I will probably wear that again when I go back to work in several years/ This has never fit but it would if I just lost three inches off my shoulder width/ I have never once worn this six-year-old $100 blouse but it's too expensive to just give away" kind of hoarder, while my husband is an emotional hoarder, as in "I can't part with this faded old t-shirt that I haven't worn in 4 years because it says physical therapist on it and I am a physical therapist."

So, over the course of the past five years of marriage, our clothes hoarding has gradually turned into a big, fat mess of clothes that are too numerous to be contained in our closet, dresser, and floor. Our once-clean bedroom that is supposed to be an oasis of calm in what can be a loud and entertaining home has turned into a place that is barely functional. I dread doing my husband's laundry because I know there won't be room for his clothes, especially his 27 white t-shirts, once they're folded. That's not cool.

Enough is enough. Today, I lovingly demanded that we separate the wheat from the chaff and whittle our wardrobes down to what we really wear and what can reasonably fit in our home. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. As I went through the piles of clothes on our closet floor, I tossed into a plastic bag anything that we hadn't worn in over a year, needed major altering to make it work, fits funny, or is something we are keeping for emotional reasons.

I'm not gonna lie. It was hard to gather up my work shoes for donation. I used to have a thing for heels, and I loved my shoes. They come from an era in my life when I gave presentations at medical schools, when I was a road warrior, when my work day began at 3 a.m. so that I could catch the first flight to Los Angeles, work a full day, and catch a red eye to Washington. But you know what? At the end of the day, those shoes are just shoes. They are nothing more. They are NOT me, or a part of me, and they are NOT a memory, though they may trigger memories. It was freeing to throw them in the donation bag and have a little more space to breathe.

Don, on the other hand, took a bit more convincing. I understand that he has fond memories of grad school, being a graduate assistant, and working on cadavers. But donating this t-shirt that hasn't been worn in two years will not mean that he is donating his experiences or memories. It finally clicked and he was able to pack up half of his side of the closet. There were a couple of meaningful items, including a tie his father bought him when he was in junior high, and we took pictures of it to document it and then added it to the bag.

When all was said and done, we packed up over 200 items to be given away. That's a lot of clothes, y'all. And to make sure that we don't find ourselves in this same situation a few years down the road, here are our new ground rules:

1. It's okay to give gifted clothing away. The fact that someone bought something and didn't give it with a gift receipt does not mean we have to keep it, especially if it doesn't fit or isn't something we need.

2. We're only keeping clothes that fit us right now, other than maternity clothes.

3. No more duplicates. I only need one black pencil skirt.

4. No making up meaning for clothes. Clothes are just clothes, they are not people or memories.

I feel like I can breathe again in our bedroom.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it kind of freeing? Ryan said he never, ever gave away a single item of clothing before we got married. I don't get attached to clothes, so I try to get rid of something each time I buy something new, but that's a bit hard to do. I also say yes every time a charity calls asking me to donate clothes. It makes me clean out my closet. But, giving away my maternity clothes was the hardest thing for me.