So I’ve been clearing out all the old stuff from my storage unit. Finding so many reminders of all the plans I once had.
The high-heeled boots I bought senior year of high school, right before the Halloween dance. My friends and I were all going to go as “sexy cops.” (I know).
My running “spikes,” as our cross-country team called our specialized lightweight racing shoes.
It’s bittersweet, to look back and remember all of the optimism I had towards my goals– goals I would never reach. Especially when I can recognize that some of those goals were pretty unhealthy.
Why did I need to wear high-heels? They were only making things worse, as I was developing compartment syndrome.
Why did I need to run? I truly loved it… but at the same time, I wasn’t truly listening to my body, and ran it into the ground.
So much pressure, to be thin, to be pretty.
So now I’m clearing out my storage unit, and there are just so many clothes. So many clothes, in just about every size.
My size 2 clothes– the last clothes I bought before my health issues spun out of control and a medication forced me to gain weight. At the time I thought it was horrible, but now I can see it was a blessing in a disguise. It took something overpowering, and dramatic, to truly break me out of that way of thinking.
Chronic pain finally pushed the obsession with being thin out of my head. There was no room for anything else; there was only survival, from one minute to the next. I’m not sure if anything else could have done that– not without it taking years.
But I’ve held on to my old clothes all this time. I loved them, because they were my way of telling the world, at 16, that I was an adult. (An adult that wanted to dress just like Buffy!).
My outfits, at the time, felt like works of art. Handbags, sweaters, dresses– everything perfect. My mom had picked out all of my clothes for me as a kid, and in the cutthroat world of high school girlhood, it took me a while to define my style.
Once I did, my clothes became my way of making a statement. I discovered that the better I looked, the more power I had in the social world of high school. If I looked perfect, it was harder for other girls to make fun of me. My clothes became my armor.
When I gained weight at first (right after high school ended), I held on to all my old things because I thought I’d eventually be a size 2 again. Then, once I realized I never actually wanted to be a size 2 again, I continued to keep them simply because it felt strange to part with them.
They’d helped me to define myself as an adult. At one point in time, they’d protected me.
And they’d been waiting for me for so long, like a lost bookend, marking where I could find the life I’d been waiting to come back to when things finally got better.
I wasn’t ready, until now, to let them go.
But I don’t need or want that life anymore. I no longer feel like I need to wear high heels in order to be a true girl. I don’t want to put on eyeliner every morning like it’s war paint.
And I don’t need to weigh 115 pounds, or to be able to see the outline of my hip bones perfectly, in order to be attractive.
I just want to be me.