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May 20, 2011 / Danielle

The Great Purge (Part 3) (A Meltdown)



I did it.

I got rid of some things.

. . . . and now, holy crap, I has the panic.

I mean, I’d already been working up to it; I’ve ‘long-term-loan-maybe-you-should-just-keep-it-if-I-don’t-end-up-missing-it”-ed several pieces to several deserving friends (sayonara cream-colored Odille dress, adios all-too-trendy white leather jacket), and given the less-loved dresses to roommates. I’ve had the majority of pieces sitting in a pile of “yup, you haven’t worn this in two years, what makes you think you’re gonna start now” shame and disgrace. And of them, anything I had worn in the past six months? Was something I peeled off in frustration, thinking “oh, why won’t you just fit right?”

I worked up to this; it wasn’t like jumping into a marathon after walking a block. It wasn’t as if I tied a blindfold around my eyes and shoved my hands into my pile of sweaters and groped around to see what I could find. I thought this through, and I carefully curated my collection of keepers vs.  . . . losers, I guess?

But all of that said – today, I finally marched down to the resale shop and sold seven of my things. (Goodbye, uncomfortable shoes; goodbye, mauve polka-dot cardigan. Au revoir and a bientot, Tulle and Target dresses that I never even wore.)

And right after that? I went store-hopping, and took back just about everything still sporting a tag.

(Whew. That was intense.)

And right now?


To be honest, I was freaking. the. eff. out.

But writing all of that . . . and looking over my current closet . . . I’m starting to breathe again.

I was panicking, though, dudes. Holy crap. What if I needed that cardigan? Oh my god oh my god that skirt and that cardi would have looked so good together! What if, somehow, those shoes became magically comfortable or my feet changed into Barbie-shape and oh god oh god I can’t deal with regret??

Never mind that I wasn’t wearing them, or they never fit right, or they just never pleased me when I put them on. I love my clothes. I’m that girl who loves her clothes. I don’t want them to be merely practical objects; they’re where I store my memories! They’re how I express myself! They’re part of who I am! Panic! Panic! . . . at the Disco!!

(And . . . scene. Sometimes, I think my offstage histrionics have something to do with how much I enjoy being an actor*.)

So. I returned four things and I sold seven. I have a pile of others left to go (it’s the wrong season to be selling winter stuff – I’magonna have to wait til August or so). For this, ladies and gentlemen, I netted a cool . . . ahem . . . $80.

Which, to be honest? Is kind of a lot of money, really.

Eighty bucks. Enough to keep me in groceries for two weeks. Enough to pay my utilities bill for a month. Enough for one fancy dinner, or two stellar nights at the bar, or 4!! batches of $20 sangria. (Choosy Beggars! I’m waiting on that recipe!) (And yes, umm, I didn’t exactly return my anthro stuff, so much as I exchanged it for this.)(I have visions of my fabulous California lifestyle, serving diced fruit and cinnamon rolls and keeping it all from bugs.)

Eighty bucks isn’t enough to move me cross-country, but it is enough to make me think more seriously about the assets I’m sitting on.

If I’m not wearing it, it’s just taking up physical – and psychic – space.

It’s just making it harder for me to appreciate what I do love, and harder for me to see what I do love.

I am panicking over it, it’s true. It’s hard to say goodbye. I’m still instilling this feeling of “if I don’t have all of this stuff, I don’t have enough”. And that’s just . . . not at all true. I am over a third of the way through this project, and I still have so much that’s underworn and unappreciated, and yet here I am squealing with anxiety over a mere eleven pieces of clothing I wasn’t wearing anyway (and when I try to tally up in my head? I have trouble remembering.)(Some of them have been in that bag a long while, yo.)

While moving through my clothing issues, I’m getting better and better about knowing what I wear; what holes there are in my closet (currently, only black yoga pants come to mind – mine officially died two days back). It doesn’t matter if a beautiful dress is gorgeous – if I’m only going to wear it once, I’d better be pretty prepared to throw down that $100 on a single night. (Something I’d never really do on anything else, with the possible exception of a once-in-a-lifetime play.)  I’m improving my ability to perceive what I’ve got, be creative with it, find ways of wearing it that don’t tire or bore me, and that help me to see all of the possibilities my wardrobe contains. And finally, finally, I’m seeing that I can acknowledge that I loved something, that it defined me at a certain time, and that now? I’m moving past it. I’m a different person. That’s not me any more.

But letting go of those things? I am flunking out.

I do believe I can move through this panic. I’m pretty sure there’s a stable shore on the other side, with a harbor of surety rather than doubt.  I’m proud of myself for bravely stepping out, and I’m rooting myself on to reach the perfect zen wardrobe, where everything is loved and nothing is extraneous.

But right now? Woof.

Getting rid of stuff without instantly wanting to buy more?

Well, there’s certainly a trick to that that I haven’t figured out yet.

It’s gonna be okay. And yes – I’ve a plan for the monies coming – I’m going to turn all my excess weight into a “Chicago Fun Fund”. I’ve got a couple of places to see and things to do before I leave town, and I want to transform my brave shedding of the unneeded into experience; to use my careful curation to fuel a fantastic summer. I want to play with my friends rather than keep things that are holding me down.

Baby steps, redhead. Let’s get you a glass of wine and a few deep breaths. And then keep moving forward.

*True story – my acting teacher actually said, as praise, “Was that a little over the top? Yes! Was it truthful? Yes! That’s just how Danielle truthfully expresses herself.”  Man, it’s ridiculous that I was born English – imagine the disaster I’d be if I’d been born Italian.


One Comment

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  1. Loren / May 20 2011 5:58 pm

    This is fantastic. Way to go girl!
    Baby steps are still steps. I know that this is silly and isn’t technically about ‘clothes purging’. But I listen to the ‘FLYlady’ sometimes.( I download her podcasts on iTunes. She has this whole affirmation sort of thing going on about ‘Finally Loving Yourself’ and taking baby-steps, ‘since your closet didn’t get this full in one day you don’t have to purge it all in one day’, and that saving EVERYTHING is ‘living poorly’.
    It’s a super corny fun little podcast, a little like listening to your aunts hosting a call in show. It might help you come to terms with your closet purge, her messages are actually really nice even though the music she plays on the program kinda drives me insane.
    Good luck with planning your trip.

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