I really wanted to keep the armoire.
For years, it lovingly held things I cherish: family heirlooms, fine china, and other beautiful possessions that brought me joy. Its stoic strength was a source of comfort to me and I wasn’t ready to part with it.
I’d lie awake at night envisioning possible Tetris moves, willing it to somehow fit into the small space. Standing upright, laying on its side, facedown…but no matter which way I spun it, it wasn’t going to fit.
Or, if it did fit, it would mean giving up something else, and that just wasn’t going to happen. I’d already whittled down my possessions to the bare essentials, and I simply couldn’t bear the thought of parting with anything else.
My decision to leave with only the belongings that brought me joy came straight from the Marie Kondo* playbook. If I didn’t love it, it wasn’t coming along for the ride. But because space was now a limiting factor, I would have to leave behind some things I loved as well.
Last week I threw away my old yearbooks. I haven’t cracked them open in 23 years and it’s unlikely that I’ll find it necessary to recall the details of my 1995 high school senior talent show. Besides, most of us hadn’t even become who we really are at that point. We were half-selves at best, still testing our limits to see how the world worked, filling our heads with hopes and grandiose plans.
I also said goodbye to several boxes of mementos: love letters, blue ribbons, certificates of achievement, and other trinkets that brought a smirk to my face for an instant — that is, before I remembered they would only be returned to the black hole in the closet if I kept them.
My book collection was next and I rationed myself to keeping just one box, which meant each selection would have to be worthy of re-reading or referencing again and again and again. By far, that was the most difficult downsizing exercise. It nauseated me actually.
I even tossed out some baby teeth that I found in an old yellowed envelope. (Gross, I know. And don’t ask me how I got them back from the tooth fairy either…I can be pretty persuasive.)
As I was sorting, purging, laughing, and crying my way through the old memories, I wondered why I’ve been carrying this ridiculous crap around with me all these years. What had I gained by hanging on to them?
Nothing came to mind.
They filled space; that was all. And space was a luxury I no longer had. As a self-care designer, I’ve preached that sometimes we have to let go of things in order to make space for new things to come into our life. This was my chance to put that wisdom into action.
But saying goodbye to the armoire was much more difficult than I expected. I wanted to force it to fit.
Because that’s what we do when we aren’t ready to let go: we force things to fit even when we know they don’t. We file down edges, saw off legs, and disassemble beautiful things until what we loved most about them is lost.
The armoire is beautiful, yes, but like so many beautiful things in my life that once fit perfectly, I’m ready to release it to someone else who will not find it necessary to alter it.
And that makes me happy.
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