I live in my grandmother’s house. I know just how everything sounds, smells, feels; I could walk through the house blindfolded and never hurt myself. I spent time here as a baby and a child, lived here as a teen, and finally came back again when my whole world fell apart. But I never thought the house would be mine.
It’s not that I never thought my Nana wouldn’t pass. She was 92 and, quite frankly, ready to go. Her mind and wit were sharp but her body was weak and her heart had been missing my grandfather for over 20 years. She had told me numerous times that she had seen all she wished to see, tasted all she wished to taste… She was done with life. While that confused me, I somehow understood.
And so it happened that four years ago my Nana passed. It broke my heart.
The four days later my own mother passed, and I’ve never been the same since.
I don’t really have any words that can accurately explain the moments, days, months, and years afterwards. I remember small things, pieces of feelings, little snapshots here and there. I don’t even know how I got to four years later. And then suddenly, the day beore my 36th birthday, I “woke up” and saw things for the first time in ages.
I’ve been living in a fog. I’ve been neglecting myself. I’ve been ignoring my own needs for way too long out of grief and sadness about things that I have no control over. When they died, I sort of let myself die, too. Looking around my house, specifically my bedroom, I saw nothing but devastation.
“Stacy… what are you doing?”
It was a real question. I honestly wanted to know.
Sure, I had hidden it well. But if you opened my own bedroom closet you would see nothing of my own. It was full from the bottom to the top, side to side, of all of my Nana’s things. And, therefore, my bedroom was simply covered with my own clothes.
It was then that I decided my birthday present to myself would be a closet.
So I opened that closet. I took down all 23 boxes of her shoes, and I cried. I took out all of her clothes, and I cried some more. I took out the knick-knacks and the papers, the files, the boxes, the rubberbands and the pens, the calendars, the boxes of hair and the baby shoes, the pillows, the blankets, the towels and the purses.
I took it all out.
And then I crawled right into that empty closet, sat down, and cried.
It was gutteral and piercing – I didn’t even recognize the sound as my own until I put my hand on my chest and physically felt it rumbling and leaving my body. If I could have seen it, I imagine it would have been inky, angry black and rotten, a combination of smokey regretful fumes and putrid grief-infused oils dripping with an acidy sadness, wrapped in a beautful sheer sheath called pride.
It was like a ghost had left my body.
I sat there still and quiet on the bottom of the empty closet floor, feeling as empty as the closet itself and bit afraid of what I had just done… and then I thought about simply closing the sliding doors and never coming out ever again.
I looked around at my room. It was in shambles. “So this is what you think of yourself, Stacy? This is what you think you deserve? Don’t you think they would want better for you, for you to be happy? Go make yourself happy.”
And so I got up out off that empty closet floor. I lifted a beautiful dress off my bedroom door hook. I gently placed it on a hanger. And I hung it inside my closet.
A feeling of free overwhelmed me and I was suddenly inspired. I decided that this closet was only to be filled with things that served me well and made me happy.
So I went through all of my clothes, shoes, and other personal items and got rid of everything that didn’t serve me well. I was left with three shirts, a pair of pants, and three pairs of shoes. It was frightening.
The next day I donated all of the things – both mine and my grandmother’s. As I cried tears of both freedom and sadness I couldn’t help noticing the connection between my closet and my life. Purging things that did not serve me well sounded like a great idea. And so I did it. Just like that.
It’s been a few weeks since the great closet and life purge. I remember feeling very scared that once I got rid of all the things that I didn’t need that I would never be full again – both my closet or my life. But the truth is that once I stopped holding on to everything out of fear of having nothing, it suddenly became much easier to find the things I actually needed and wanted.
In a few short weeks I’ve rebuilt my wardrobe on a shoestring budget via the local thrift stores – the same stores I donated all of our belongings to. Which means I see our stuff lined up waiting to be sold as I shop for new, better fitting, happier things. It’s not easy. I almost cried when I saw someone buying my grandmother’s shoes, but I know that those shoes will serve someone else much better than they will serve me sitting in my closet.
I’ve also rebuilt my mind. Nothing stays there that I don’t want anymore. I question everything that enters the same way I would an article of clothing making its way into my closet. Does this look good on me? If it doesn’t, it doesn’t come in. End of story. I don’t do anything out of guilt or pride or fear anymore. And it feels amazing.
People are constantly telling me how nice I look lately and commenting on how I just seem happier. It’s true. I am happier. Putting effort into the things that make you happy rather than all the things that are weighing you down (things that aren’t even yours!) will do that to a person.
And I remember that each and every time I open my closet. Which is at least twice a day now, in case you were wondering.
And that is my #sundayconfession