Sunday, April 24, 2011

closet bulimia - oh, punny

Today was a day of purging. And not 14-year-old bulimia purging, either.

I had to clean my apartment, and ended up doing so much more than that.

Because of the move to Miami this summer, I have to sell basically all of my furniture and the majority of my other belongings that aren't exceptionally important. I have to show the apartment next week to some potential shady Craigslist buyers, which meant that, despite the rest of my house being generally acceptable for having company over, I would have to actually attempt cleaning my blackhole of a bedroom.

I am the first to admit that I am not a particularly clean or organized person - scratch that, my mother is the first to admit that about me. But I normally keep my apartment up to some basic standards of cleanliness. My bedroom, however, has always been an entirely different story. Somehow I manage to stuff the multitude of my belongings under the bed and into my closets whenever I know there's the possibility of people seeing my room, but it's never been truly clean - even since childhood.

And while my mother is the first to admit that I'm not a clean person, I'm the first to admit that she's most likely a hoarder. Unfortunately, it looks like some of her less-attractive habits have rubbed off on me. As I finally got around to cleaning my bedroom - boyfriend seated patiently on my bed, trash bags in each hand - I realized what I was going to be revealing to him. He's been basically living with me for the past two months anyways, and we're officially moving to Miami together in July, but it quickly became apparent that he had not figured the extent of my problem before then. I began emptying my closets, the mess in my bedroom multiplying by the second, seemingly impossible that my room could contain so many things and half the time look relatively normal. I filled bag after bag after bag after goddamned bag with clothes that didn't fit, had never fit, had been bought online during late night drinking binges maxing out my credit card, belonged to friends or relatives, were being saved for friends or relatives, had been worn once, or twice, but usually just once. Mostly, though, they were clothes that I had kept from high school and my first few years of college. Piles and piles of clothes that had been saved for when I would lose enough weight to be able to wear them again. Kept with the optimistic hope that if I filled my dresser and closets with clothes that were just a little too small, then it would encourage me to lose weight so that I could continue wearing them. I used to tell myself that I couldn't buy more clothes until I could fit into the ones that I already owned - though that doesn't work too well when you no longer fit in any of your clothes. And as I bought more clothes to fit my new body, I gained even more weight, bought even more clothes, and found myself further and further from being able to fit into those clothes that had fit 3 years ago, 2 years ago, even just 1 year ago. The only clothes that I kept neatly on hangers in my closet, didn't fit. The only pants folded perfectly and stacked symmetrically in my dresser drawers, two sizes too small. The rest of my clothes, the clothes that I wore day-to-day, lived in laundry baskets and cluttered piles on my floor. All of the premium storage space was reserved for the clothes I idolized, because they represented the me I was envious of.

When the boyfriend and I began discussing the move to Miami seriously for the first time, the first thing on my mind was "....we are renting a truck and taking all of my stuff, right?" It took me at least a month to come to terms with the fact that I would be leaving all of my furniture behind. Furniture that I had bought with my earnings from my first real job. Furniture that I had bought for my first real apartment. The things that I had bought in the past year were so much more than things, they represented my newfound independence and responsibility. They represented my ability to provide for myself better than my family ever could and overcome all of the bullshit from my upbringing. You would think that the sentimental value of that would be so much greater than that of my clothes.

I hadn't even bought most of my clothes. All of my clothes in high school were bought by a generous boyfriend. All of the clothes I had from my first two years of college were bought with excess scholarship money. I didn't earn these. They didn't hold any significant value when it came to representing my independence. They didn't really hold any significant value at all - they were all at least a year old, most of them two or three years, some older. Half of them weren't particularly in fashion anymore. Too much wear and tear on most to justify selling them to a consignment boutique. It's not like I was wearing designer clothes in high school and my freshman year of college. I shopped almost exclusively at Target, Wet Seal, and Forever 21. And I still do, because I'm cheap, and I absolutely do not care about quality because I would rather always have something cheap and trendy, than something timeless that will last.

And yet, I accepted giving away my furniture. I dealt with it. I contacted old acquaintances that I would normally never talk to, just to see if they needed furniture or home accessories. I made Craigslist ads. I even sucked it up and broke the news to my mom about the move sooner than I had planned, just so that I could see if she would want any of my bedroom furniture or even my car - the pinnacle of my freedom and independence.

But go through my clothes? Sort them into piles? Get rid of everything that I didn't wear on a regular basis? Possibly get rid of everything period and just get all new clothes in Miami?


No way.

Not going to happen.

Fuck you, the boyfriend.

These are my clothes, the boyfriend.

Why do you want me to get rid of my CLOTHES, the boyfriend?

I have Space Bags.

I have a suitcase set.

Fuck, I'll pay for the U-haul trailer so I can stuff my overflowing closets into it.

What do you mean we might not get an apartment with a walk-in closet?!

Yeah. I have a problem. So we sat. And we talked. And every time the boyfriend suggested we tackle the beast in my bedroom, I was tired or busy or goddammit can't you see I'm watching Law & Order and this is really goddamned important.

Eventually I came to terms with my overwhelming anxiety about the whole situation and snatched the boyfriend up, shoved trash bags into his hands, sat him on the bed and purged. For hours. I got one closet done, and was halfway through the second when I had my first breakdown.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH ALL THESE GODDAMNED HANGERS? WORST INVENTION EVER. THEY GET, THEY GET.... tangled, on things.... and, stuck together.... and I always step on them and break them and - and - and - FUCK IT. I'm done.

Cue frazzled, crazy person smoke break now. So out comes the boyfriend. Loyally following behind me, even though at this point he's probably risking his life because I've obviously gone off the deep end. Hands shaking, sobbing hysterically, gulping out mostly incoherent sentences in between drags off my cigarette.

20 minutes and 1 Klonopin later, I return to finish tackling the bedroom. I stand there, just looking at it. Looking at the 7 bags that have already relocated to the living room for the time being. Looking at the two closets that are already close to overflowing with my "to keep" pile. Looking at the vast expanse of bedroom yet to be "organized". I look at the boyfriend. He says I'm a hoarder. I look back at my room, I can't disagree, though of course I say that I do. I sit with him for a bit and again start crying. The two shots of vodka he had earlier are probably the only things keeping him next to me right now, in my completely unstable, hysterical state.

...The reason why I can't get rid of my clothes. The reason why I've kept them for several years, even though I haven't been able to wear them. The reason why I keep them folded in my dresser and hung neatly in my closet, is because I'm waiting. I'm waiting to finally lose this weight and be able to wear my clothes again. I keep them ready. Ready, because I'm supposed to be that size. I'm supposed to be that small again. If I give them away - if I get rid of them - then I'm a failure. As long as I still have them, then I can still lose the weight and wear them again. If I get rid of them then I'm giving up. Then I'll never lose the weight. Then it's so improbable that I'd ever be able to fit in them again, that I shouldn't even own them. If I don't have these clothes anymore, then I'm admitting that I'm... fat.

I eventually finished the bedroom last night. I finished sorting the clothes and bagging them up to be given to charity. I vacuumed and rearranged the furniture in preparation for the Craigslist buyers. The boyfriend and I discussed changing the furniture arrangement in the living room and dining room. I took a nap. I browsed the internet. I survived.

But that's just it. I didn't. I don't. Ever. I push every negative experience I've ever had deep, deep into the back of my head. I smile. I pretend. I act like everything is alright, to the point that I even fool myself sometimes. But the boyfriend was right. I am a hoarder. It's not because I'm lonely, which is why I think my mother hoards. It's not because I'm trying to fill some void with material things. It's because there's a piece of me in my things that I can't bear to part with. If I don't have those things as reminders of what I was, what I could still be, then I might forget completely. They're proof, that yes, I did used to be skinny. And yes, I could wear a size 3. And yes, at one time, perhaps I did have self-control.

I was updating my About Me on SparkPeople earlier. My old one was about wishing to drop the Freshman 15, and as I get nearer and nearer to graduation and adulthood, it seemed a bit a ridiculous to continue blaming my weight on dining halls I haven't eaten at in over a year. I realized that in keeping my old clothes, I was striving to return to how I was. I was putting my past self on a pedestal at the expense of who I currently am. And in so many ways, I am such a better person now than I ever was then. I decided that I didn't need those old clothes. That if I got down to a size 3, then I would buy new clothes to celebrate my successes, rather than grasping onto pieces of my past in the hopes of forcing them into my present. It's like having a child die. And keeping their bedroom exactly the same. Untouched for 20 years, desperately hoping that they'll come home someday - just as they were. Leaving those clothes hanging in my closets, waiting for the old me to come back and take them. But I don't want to be that person anymore. Instead of working towards what I was then, I want to improve on who I am now.

1 comment:

  1. Holy hell I really dig this post haha. I too was in this position in jan when we very quickly moved I had zero time and brought EVERYTHING in a uhaul (my distance was a smidge shorter than yours). Moving into a new place should be fun and liberating, not soul stripping. 4 dressers, 3 closets, plus trash bags and dry cleaning bags for days. I've parted ways with all manner of sizes and styles and stitches and it was painful. So job well done on powering through that horrendous task. I hope it fuels your fire for future success.