I hate laundry.
I hate laundry so much that I have not made a concerted effort to really do all of it since January. Want to know how I know that? I JUST finished a load that contained the black top I wore on New Year's Eve. You know - this one:
So after 2 days and 9 FULL loads worth - I'm finally done! Hallelujah! Who on this earth owns that many clothes??? I own over 12 bras, 30 pairs of underwear (yes, I can go a full month without having to wash a darn thing), and about half of the local Lane Bryant's spring, summer, fall & winter lines for the past 4 years in a variety of colours. It's ridiculous.
You see, weight hasn't been my only issue in life. I also used to be addicted to shopping.
It's another unhealthy habit that was a symptom of my obesity. I used spending money as a way to make myself feel better about life. I like pretty things and have expensive taste, so I used shopping the same way I used food to feed the pain of loneliness or boredom or frustration. If I had a bad week, then a nice new shirt or necklace or pair of shoes would be just the thing I needed to make me feel better. I got a high from wearing my new threads. The smell of new clothes, breaking the tags off, the crisp way they feel on the body. I would buy things just to buy. As long as they fit (sort of) then that was good enough for me. I'd have good shopping days and bad shopping days. On the bad, I'd leave with nothing, fueling my depression because "nothing ever seemed to fit" and "I'm so fat and ugly". But on the good days I would walk out of the store, laden with bags, bursting at the seams to get home and re-try on my purchases. The problem was, the bigger I got, the bigger the clothes got, and the more expensive. A shopping trip to a plus store would easily rack up bills of $200 or more per trip, and I kept needing more and more to make me happy. My credit card bills were out of control and I was sinking fast - which was only making the depression worse.
A couple of years ago I had sunk to a new low. I swallowed every last ounce of pride I had and called my parents to help me co-sign on a bank loan to consolidate my credit card debt. At first, they denied my request. Since I live so far away and they would like nothing better than to see me move closer to home, they used the fact that I needed their assistance as an ultimatum - move home and they would help me. I was devastated. I couldn't move home - my life was now in Chicago. My job, my friends and my therapy were all in this city. There was no way that I knew how to start all over again after everything that I had been through to build a life here. So I stood my ground and told them that wasn't an option and feared the worst when they told me I'd just have to figure it out some other way.
I waited a week and then asked again. This time they agreed. They didn't like the terms, but they had talked it over and understood the importance and gravity of the situation. And with that, I was relieved of all my credit cards and handed a $10,000 bank loan with a 3 year repayment term. All I could think was "Oh God - what have I done?"
That was exactly 2 years ago in August - and I am incredibly proud to say that as of this August, I will have repaid that entire loan - one year ahead of schedule! I currently do not own ANY credit cards. I pay for everything up front - and if I don't have the money for it, it stays in the store.
Getting real with myself and my budget and spending habits was one of the hardest things I have had to do so far in my adult life. But I have to say now that it was doing that that lead me to believe that I could do this too. I am taking control of my out-of-control habits and lifestyle and turning them into something manageable and maintainable one day at a time. Counting calories is like spending money. Sometimes you have to borrow a little from tomorrow to pay today, but at the end of the week everything needs to line up to be that much closer to your goal. I am paying off big amounts in money and in pounds. And I couldn't be more proud of myself and how far I've come. Financial freedom is within my reach and so is a new and fit body!
Doing those 9 loads of laundry all weekend was an exercise in reflection for me. As I folded every top, every sweater, every pair of jeans, I thought about when I bought them, what I felt like then, how much money I spent to buy them. Most of the things I'm wearing now are from at least 2 years ago and from my one big shopping trip last year before I took my vacation to Paris. As I folded some of the sweaters I got just 6 months ago for Christmas and my birthday it was a little bitter-sweet knowing that they received so little wear this year and that I won't ever get to wear them again because already they're too big for me. I am officially DONE being that size forever. I've paid off that part of my "loan" and I will never have to do it again. For what I have lost I have gained 10-fold in knowledge and security and happiness.
I don't buy clothes anymore to make me happy. I buy clothes now because I need to (I'm shrinking!) and that's a whole different kind of happy than the one I was achieving before. I am actually looking forward to shedding my closet almost as much as I'm looking forward to shedding the weight. Since the clothing I own now ranges in sizes from 12-26, I am awaiting the day when it will all be one uniform size and I can reach in and pull out anything I want and have it fit and look beautiful on me. No more waiting to wear something until I'm that size. No more hanging on to certain pieces because I'm not sure if I'll need them again. No way. I'm not going back this time. And unless I can find someone here who is one step behind me and wants my hand-me-downs, I know I'm about to make a local homeless shelter very, very happy this year. I'll pay it forward any way I can.
And just for the record - here's that New Year's Eve number now...25 (almost) pounds lighter!
My first side-by-side!