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dissolving threads

March 25, 2014

The plum woolly sweater (that I will be giving away shortly) sits on the chair next to me. Somehow it seems connected to my sudden craving for (1) milk chocolate (none in the house), and (2) Twitter (I’ve made it 49 hours, but would like to get to at least 84 hours).

Earlier, I wrote something about unloved gifts, but I put it aside because I did not discover anything new.

I want to matter to someone. I want the people I matter to, to take the time and make the effort to figure out things I actually want. If they could help me get those things, and they actually did help me get those things, that would be excellent. If they couldn’t help me get those things, could they at least stop giving me things that I don’t want?

I don’t want to write a rant about gifts that were disappointing, because I could write a book about that. And jeez, who’d want to read it?

The deeper, more interesting question, to me . . . Spouse doesn’t remember giving me the plum sweater (although he does remember that he likes it, whenever I wear it). And Spouse usually does not read my blog. So when I wrote the earlier blog post, why did I feel compelled to write that “I want to like the sweater!” before I went on to say, “but I don’t like it because Reasons”?

Why do I need reasons? Why can’t I just not like it?

Before writing the earlier blog post, I knew the plum sweater was too itchy, and I felt conflicted about wearing it, but I didn’t know that I felt “muted, unlovely, and prickly” in it. I write that, and it seems like if a friend told me that, I would counsel them to get rid of it, but when it’s for me, I still feel conflicted.

Some part of me feels I don’t have any right to not like a gift, no matter how I feel about it. That not liking a gift (even one that makes me feel terrible) somehow makes me a bad person.

Which is actually a really convenient thing for me to feel, given how many terrible (or just incomprehensible) gifts I’ve received from family members.

If it never occurs to me that the process itself is somehow flawed, but instead I assume “the problem” is me, I’ll try harder to like the unlikable.

As I write that, it echoes oddly in my mind. Is this somehow connected to people trying too hard to like me, because they find me unlikable? But feel if they acknowledge that, that would make them a bad person in their own minds, so instead, we all have to pretend that we like each other? After a certain point, I would have actually preferred my parents to be honest with me, and just admit they don’t like me. But they kept insisting they loved all of us equally, when they clearly didn’t.


Hoarding comes about when people suffer more traumas than they have coping skills to handle appropriately. In a way, might hoarding metaphorically be a way of clasping relics of one’s traumas to one’s chest, refusing to let go of them? Hurting yourself, but in a way that’s familiar, and therefore comfortable?

Is giving people gifts they don’t want and can’t use, but raising those people to think that their lack of appreciation stems from being a Bad Person (which is apparently a fixed quality), somehow related?

I still feel guilty about giving away expensive jewelry my parents gave me. I could’ve sold it, and I kind of wish I had. But at the time, I felt compelled to make it go away as quickly as I could; selling it would’ve required steps I didn’t know how to take.

Also, if my parents wanted to give me money, they could’ve just given me money. (My parents have almost never given me money.) Because money can be spent on anything.

I perceive that I have a blind spot right here, but I don’t know what it is.

Maybe this is related to why I haven’t been able to bring myself to sell my wedding dress? I’ve wanted to, for at least the last four years, but somehow I can’t move forward on it. It’s a pretty dress. But it doesn’t suit me. It didn’t in 1993, and it certainly doesn’t now. It’s also not what my mother would’ve chosen if I’d been the daughter she wanted; but it was something the daughter I was would wear. That is, it was a compromise.

I . . . never really liked it.

Wow. That was incredibly difficult to say.

My wedding dress anchors my whole closet. And that may be a big part of my problem.


Generally I don’t hoard things. I had all those years of therapy — I process my feelings (often incredibly slowly), I write about my feelings, and I can usually manage to give tangible things away when I need room in my life.

I would like to say, I would like to be able to say, I value people over things. That’s obviously what a Good Person would say. But I don’t think it’s true of me.

I don’t think I value things over people, though.

I think what I value most of all is . . . experiences. Feelings. Insight.

Other people can give me things as gifts, but the experiences and feelings those gifts have often engendered have not tended to be satisfying nor enjoyable. And there has been no insight anywhere.

I need to rewrite my poem so that it reflects the experiences I wish I’d had at my 30th birthday party. (Which will require magical realism.)

I need to have more experiences, including enjoyable ones. I need to have more enjoyable feelings more often.

I learn by doing. What I’ve been doing, for years, is what other people are comfortable with: I’ve been wearing that plum sweater for 8 years? 10 years? I’ve been looking at my wedding dress in my closet for 21 years.

I’ve been holding on to the wrong things. And maybe that has precluded me from finding the right things.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2014 12:53

    Oh my gosh! I definitely had similar feelings with my high school graduation dress! My mom helped me find a dress. I was very half-hearted about it. I was ignoring my unconscious desires to wear a nice suit.

    In the end, it was a gorgeous bullet-grey dress that went down to my ankles. It hung off one shoulder. When I looked in the mirror, I knew that the dress looked good in the body I had. But I didn’t look good in the dress or body I wanted. I was being the Dutiful Daughter that my mother raised me to be.

    I got many compliments on the dress–possibly because it was the first time many people had scene me in actual Girl mode. People who look at my grad photos can’t recognize me. But when I point out who I was, they all note that I look deeply and profoundly uncomfortable.

    I eventually gave the dress to my mom because we both came to acknowledge that I would never wear it again.

    I still go through wardrobe cleanings where I remove clothes that I haven’t worn in a year or so. It feels good to let go of those abandoned clothes and make space for new clothes.

    • March 25, 2014 13:57

      As I wrote the post, I realized I have Feelings about my own h.s. graduation dress (for different reasons than your story), but that’ll have to be a post for a different day.

      I’m glad you were able to send yours on its way relatively easily.

      Thinking about how we react to/feel about colors in our environment… is starting to seem like a Really Important Thing that (maybe) Everybody Should Do.

      • March 25, 2014 14:07

        Thanks. Me too.

        Yeah, I’d like to do that more. I am trying to be more mindful of my actions. This is a good way to try that!

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