Have you ever had a piece of clothing or jewelry you had to get rid of because of the memories it evoked?
Maybe the earrings from your ex-husband that remind you of the painful breakup instead of the happy years.
Or the swimsuit that is two sizes too small and reminds you of how your body used to look.
Or maybe it’s the beautiful scarf your sister gave you before she passed away, and rather than bringing you comfort it reminds you how much you miss her. You don’t want to get rid of it, but you have to put it away for a while.
For my part, I had to get rid of my a sweater that was my ex-boyfriend’s favorite. Every time I put it on after the break up, instead of feeling uplifted at how sexy he thought it was on me, I felt deep sadness that things didn’t work out. It was so painful that I no longer wanted to see it hanging in my wardrobe. I also have a “boyfriend box” with the pictures and tchotchkes that remind me of him – I don’t want them gone for good because there are some meaningful things in there, but it will be a while before I can look at them without feeling sad.
The point is this: clothing and objects hold memories. They have the power to evoke strong emotions. In other words, they hold energy.
Sometimes it’s joyful energy – I feel joyful every time I put on my favorite turtleneck because I know the color looks great on me and I always get compliments on it. It holds an energy of joy.
But sometimes it’s painful energy…or sad energy…or fearful energy.
About seven years ago, I decided to make a clean start for New Years. In the week leading up to the new year, I made a project of washing Every. Single. Piece. of clothing that I owned. Yep, it was a LOT of loads of laundry.
But I wasn’t just trying to get them clean of sweat and dirt. I had made a conscious commitment to stop letting fear rule my life as powerfully as it had. So I put every load of laundry in with the intention: “I am washing FEAR out of my clothing.”
Every time I put on a piece of the newly-cleansed clothing, I felt GREAT! It wasn’t just that it was clean…it was CLEANSED. It’s a big difference. I felt like I could go forward and make new experiences, new memories, and new associations because any residual fear and sadness the clothes had picked up was washed away.
Does it mean I never felt fear again? Of course not!!!! But rather than just going along with the old pattern of fear and sadness, I’d made a conscious decision to start a new pattern. And here’s the important part: I took action to support that decision.
The memory of that massive clothing cleanse came to mind last night as I was shedding my clothes at the end of the day and deciding what to put in the laundry bucket. Normally I wear my jeans and tops more than once between washings, and both my jeans and top were still well within reasonable limits. But then I stopped to reconsider.
You see, yesterday was not a normal day. In fact, yesterday was a very scary day.
I am currently supporting my mom as she goes through treatment for cancer. She is nearing the end of her chemotherapy regimen and, as expected, she’s been getting progressively weaker. Yesterday she had a medical incident while I was alone with her at her house. It turned out to be relatively minor, but that’s not what it looked like in the moment. And worst of all, while I generally pride myself on being good in an emergency, in this case I panicked.
The aftermath of those few minutes of panic stayed with me throughout the afternoon in the emergency room and into the evening as we returned home.
When it was time to shed my clothes for the day, my natural inclination was to check my jeans and turtleneck to make sure I hadn’t sat in any chocolate and that they still smelled okay, and then put them back in the closet.
But as I started to hang up my top, something didn’t feel right. It took me a moment to put my finger on it, and then I got it…the shirt “smelled” like fear to me. So much so that I didn’t want to place it in my closet and infect the clothes around it. I also didn’t want to turn to my closet next week and wrap myself once again in residual fear.
A week or two from now would I still “smell” the fear on those clothes? Probably not. But I know from past experiences that energy lasts even when I’m not consciously aware of it.
It was worth it to me to toss the turtleneck and jeans and bra into my laundry bucket and cleanse them even before I sat in some renegade chocolate.
I’ve made a note for myself so that next time I do laundry I will once again consciously hold the intention that I am washing FEAR out of my clothing.
Next time you have a particularly upsetting experience, consider the clothes and jewelry you’re wearing. Close your eyes and see if you can sense any of that residual energy on them.
If so, toss them in the laundry even if it’s not time yet. You can do the same with jewelry – put it under running water in the sink and imagine the fear/sadness/anger rushing down the drain into the earth where it can be recycled and turned into something new. Or, if you get good sunlight in your home, you can place your jewelry in a dish in the sun for a day and imagine the sun’s rays blasting away any darkness that might be hanging on to the beads and baubles.
Why not do everything possible to start cleansed and clean for a fresh new day!
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