You see it started a long time ago when I was a little girl. Mama, cussed and fussed and beat and I never really felt loved. But when I was in about the 5th grade, Mama started bringing me bags of clothes home on payday Fridays. I could always expect a new outfit, sometimes even 2 or 3. In 7th grade when my friends were wearing jeans and t-shirts to school, I was wearing pantsuits with long maxi coats. (It was the 70's might I add.) That's why I'm not a big fan of jeans today; they were not a big part of my childhood.
It was a very unhealthy relationship. Like she took me shopping for my 8th grade graduation and got me everything I asked for, but she didn't come to see me walk across that stage. So I began to equate clothes with love. I measured my mothers love by the amount of clothes I had in my closet. And I carried that sickness into adulthood.
But for me, I thought the sharper I dressed the more people would love me. Shoot, maybe there was a part of me that believed the clothes would love me too. The clothes became my validation and I began to love them more than myself. Clothes became my God.
But then I started to notice that once I was home away from the limelights there was an emptiness, a void. And nothing in my closest could fill that hole in my heart. So the lonelier I was, the more I shopped. I would stay out of the empty house, shopping. I shopped not just for me but I shopped for all the people in my life, thinking they would love me forever because I was the best gift giver on the planet. And the sickness grew like a cancerous tumor.
|8 years old St. John Jacket I wore 3 weeks ago|
OMG! It was hard. But then life began to make it simple. The bottom dropped out of my finances. Speaking engagements dried up, I lost my book deal with Hyperion, and there were days I found myself with no food in my refrigerator.
So out of just plain old necessity I started selling my fancy clothes, handbags, shoes and jewelry. Before I moved from my fancy 3 bedroom apartment I had turned my house into a store. I eventually sold all of my furniture and moved into a studio. When it was close to the move date I gave over 50 garbage bags of clothes away.
|St. John Sale My House!|
But I can tell you, what I thought about my clothes meant nothing in the face of homelessness. So I sold and sold and sold some more. When my laptop died last summer I sold 3 Chanel handbags for $500 each to get my Mac Book. These handbags were $1500-$2000 each. But it had to be done! The first half of this year I was at an all time record low. I hadn't been this broke since I was 17 and first put out on my own.
But now, things are sort of picking up. My speaking engagements are starting to book more and my bracelet business is doing good. If I get a couple sales a week that helps to keep food on the table. But even as things start to turn around for me, I will never return to that place of yesteryear.
Now I'm at a place where I'm even letting more and more go. Right now there are three garbage bags of clothes waiting to go to Dress for Success in my hall. And a young woman I've been sowing onto since she was 10 left my house today with about 12 pairs of new shoes, Gucci, and on and on, and 2 garbage bags of clothes. And thanks be to God, she wrote me a check. She says there is no place on the planet, other than my closet, where she can get what she got for the price of two pairs of shoes in that bag. She sees this as one way of helping me because I've been giving her clothes since she was 10. And it is. Some people just take and take and never give back.
|Wearing 7 year old SJK a month ago|
Nothing comes into my space without something going out. If I see some new earrings I want, I find something in my jewelry box that I never wear and I trade them in or sell them first.
And you know what? In the end, I discovered that I look just as fab in the old St. John Knits in my closet as I do with all the new St. John I just had to have years ago. And all that gift giving, well it stopped because I couldn't keep it up and in the end, I learned who was true and who was just hanging around for a wonderful gift.
But I believe the most important thing in this journey was learning to love myself. And loving me put me in a place to receive real love in my life. People who will love me whether I'm naked or clothed. When you know what love is, you can receive love and give love.
And Mama, I realize now, this was all she knew how to do. It was her brand of love and it was all I knew... And I thought because I knew it, it was right. But it was faulty thinking. Thank God I learned what love is in my lifetime. And now that I've evicted clothes from my heart, it all belongs to God.