My Closet and I Have An Understanding, and So Far We’re Getting Along Just Fine

How I came face-to-face with my cluttered past, one piece of clothing at a time.

Jill Reid
Jill Reid
Jan 1 · 4 min read
Photo from Depositphotos

It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I was pretty much oblivious to the problem, until the day when I finally had to admit it: My closet simply didn’t have any more room.

Every time I opened the door, the truth was staring me in the face: I wasn’t using most of the items stored in that limited space.

It was time for a reckoning with my past.

First, I Took Full Responsibility For The Situation

I guess as long as I could fit more things in that tiny room, that’s where they needed to go — to take up residence.

But I didn’t realize my closet was simply accommodating my tendency to hang on to everything. I’d even added extra shelving to store sealed boxes that hadn’t been opened in years — boxes that no doubt held meaningful treasures… if I could just remember what they were.

It was as if I believed I could magically expand the walls, push the limits, and keep it all forever.

But like a restaurant sign clearly indicating the limits of maximum occupancy, one day it happened: I couldn’t shove anything more into that space.

My closet was done with me.

So We Came to An Understanding…

… a meeting of the minds, a pact that would work for both of us.

Admittedly, the terms of the agreement were not easy for me. But under the circumstances, I had to admit — it seemed reasonable, even logical. And it was up to me to compromise to keep both of us happy.

Because my closet could do no more.

After a few rounds back-and-forth, it was decided. On the last day of every month, we would spend extra time together. And on that day, I would fulfil my end of the deal by removing the items that no longer fit, had never been worn, or had been waiting years to see the light of day.

I was sure I could do it. But as the first agreed-on date approached, I became anxious. My heart was racing, my mind generating a hundred excuses to turn around and go do something else.

Afraid to open the closet door, I stood there, hoping the phone would ring, or the Amazon driver would make the delivery I was waiting for — anything I could use as an excuse to reschedule.

But guilt wouldn’t let me leave. So I took a deep breath, flipped on the light switch, and stepped inside.

I took a few minutes to take it all in, scanning the brimming shelves and the bowed, over-weighted rods, trying to determine a game plan.

Where would I start? Hats, purses, belts, sweaters? I became dizzy and light-headed. Should I make an inventory of everything?

It Seemed An Impossible Task

The thought of vetting all the dresses, pants, jeans, blouses, jackets, sneakers, boots, purses, and my sacred collection of heels seemed a monumental, even unreasonable, undertaking. How could I possibly let go of all the evidence of my past?

I hesitated, wondering how I could have agreed to just such an idealistic cleansing. And then I remembered what brought me here in the first place.

I had everything I needed — and I wasn’t using most of what I had. It was time to let go. So I designed an approach that would encourage me to stay true to the pact. Baby steps to kaizen my way through it.

I began with the upper rod on the left side — a full-length bar stretching from front-to-rear, and overloaded with memories and bad choices.

The first victim was a sequined cocktail dress I had worn on a cruise 18 years ago. I’d completely forgotten about it, until I unzipped the black plastic storage bag. Sadly, it was obvious the dress wouldn’t fit me anymore. And although the excitement of wearing it for the first time on a special vacation with my husband was still embossed in my memory, it was time to say goodbye.

I laid the dress on my bed, then went back in for another gruelling extraction.

On that first day in my closet, I laughed, I cried, I reminisced over all the articles of clothing that were no longer part of the real me.

The short black satin tuxedo jacket that had seen only one New Year’s Eve. A salt-and-pepper pleated skirt I had worn to a job interview in San Francisco (I got the job), the blue strapless leather dress, custom made for me so many years ago — the one that raised my mom’s eyebrows when I wore it to my aunt and uncle’s 50th-anniversary party.

I could go on, but frankly, I don’t think my emotions can take it just yet.

It Was Exhausting

But I felt we had done good work together. In fact, my closet seemed a little more friendly and inviting.

We’re still in the early stages of our new relationship. But I have a good feeling about it because there are a few things my closet and I agree on:

  • A closed door is good for both of us.
  • Nothing new will cross the threshold without a thorough and well-researched need that cannot be satisfied with the current inventory.
  • Neither of us mentions the dresser drawers.
  • And my shoes are off the table. Some are imported, so they have diplomatic immunity. The others receive blanket sanctuary. No argument — and it’s not up for discussion.

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Jill Reid

Written by

Jill Reid

Writer|founder of Pathway to Personal Growth/Editor of Real Life — Tips for Living a Healthy, Positive, & Purposeful Life —

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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