I am officially banned from every shopping mall in this city.
Now, you're probably thinking, Ah, Savia has gone overboard on the Christmas shopping. Not so. Savia finished her Christmas shopping in early November because she hates malls and people at Christmas time. They give me mall rage. Also, I have this thing that if I see something that reminds me of someone, I buy it right away regardless of what time of year it is, because chances are once you go back for it later, it is invariably gone and you're kicking yourself that you didn't buy it in the first place. So, shopping for others is always done early. People hate me for this, so please feel free to join them.
Ironically, after all that early shopping to avoid crowds in malls, I decided to shop for myself right before Christmas. A lot. Because it finally sunk in that none of my clothes fit. They are all four sizes too big. It took awhile for this to hit me, because the last 30 pounds came off incredibly fast and my brain hasn't had a chance to catch up to my body. I have this really warped body image where I look in the mirror and see myself the way I used to look and don't really notice that my clothes are hanging off of me. A few weeks ago, I started wading through my clothes and putting the ones aside that didn't fit anymore. This is what I came up with:
And I've even added a few things since I took that picture. I don't think the photo does it justice - it's insane how many clothes are in that pile. It's an entire wardrobe. There have to be at least a dozen jeans in there. And everything else imaginable, too - work clothes, casual clothes, formal clothes - you name it. I've barely worn some of them.
It was really hard to put a lot of those clothes in the pile. Part of me wants to hang on to them "just in case." But another part of me keeps telling myself, "Let the past go" and "It's time to move on with your life." I can't hold on to this stuff. It feels like it's weighing me down just by being here. There is a lot of baggage in this pile. Clothes that I bought when I started the really toxic abusive job, clothes that I wore before I had my own sense of style and just bought everything plain that the Gap had to offer in black, tan and grey. Clothes that I wore before I really discovered who I am. But I kept wearing these clothes for years because they were there and they fit, even though they were not what I would buy if I were picking things out for myself today. Part of it is my upbringing - when you grow up poor, you feel as though you have to a) buy everything on sale and b) wear everything you buy on sale forever and ever until they fall apart. Because otherwise, you're being wasteful.
Anyway, after trying on everything I owned, I finally got the hint and realized that I needed a whole new wardrobe. I could count on my fingers and toes the items that were left in my closet after The Great Purge. (It was a little like those poor victims on What Not to Wear, when Stacy and Clinton desecrate their wardrobes and leave them with nothing but some empty hangers a credit card.) And since I'm starting from scratch, I finally get to buy clothes that reflect who I am. In the course of a week, I spent more than $1,000 on clothes. When I tell people about it, they look at me like I'm on crack, and I tend to agree with them, because it does sound nuts. I am still trying to get my head around it myself, because I've never done anything like that before. But I needed to do it because I was just tired of making do and wearing clothes that made me feel bad about myself. It was like I was waiting for the weight to come back by wearing them and keeping them around. It was time to turn over a new leaf and have my external self show the world who I really am, instead of hiding behind this old baggage.
However, in case you're wondering if I've totally abandoned my frugal roots, you'll be reassured to know that there were only four items that I bought that cost more than $40 in all of my shopping trips. They were a winter coat ($75), leather boots ($70) designer shoes ($50), and a blazer ($54). But don't let the low prices fool you - I managed to find some really funky, original nice pieces because I know how to bargain shop, and most of my stuff was picked up at Winners on super sale. So, yes, even my indulgences are frugal.
I'm not looking forward to getting my credit card bill next month, but I know it's worth it. Because when I look in the mirror now, I see the me that I've always wanted to be. And while part of me is scared that this external representation is temporary and that if I blink or look away for too long, somehow the weight is all going to come back and nothing that I own will fit and, and I will have lost myself once more, and and and... But then, I just take a deep breath and think, none of that matters, because in this moment, this is it. This is me.