Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Things Change…" Part Four: Out of the woods

Change continues.

Over the last couple of days, with the helpful and timely encouragement of my wife, I have gone through my clothes closet, which -- for many years now -- has been another of my "disaster area" rooms. Jumbles of shirts on hangers… piles of used and new clothes on the floor, waiting in vain for an organizing hand… hats purchased years ago with an eye toward a more "sophisticated" look, and abandoned when I realized I didn't like the way they felt on my head… lumpy heaps of TMNT t-shirt samples from various licensees… shoes worn once, perhaps twice… and so on.

I have a lot of "spring cleaning" of this sort to do in the house and in my old studio, and Jeannine wisely suggested I start here. It made sense -- it's the smallest room, and she saw that it would be quite possibly the easiest, for at least one big reason -- anything I decided to divest myself of could simply be tossed into a bag and brought to the local Goodwill Industries drop box.

So I tore into it, with somewhat ruthless -- but practical -- abandon. About half of the stuff I put into bags for Goodwill was brand new, never been worn… some of it never even out of plastic bags or off the original hangars. For example, I have over the last ten years bought many a four-pocket shirt -- guayaberas they're called, and also known as the "Mexican wedding shirt". Jeannine bought me my first one about ten years or so ago, in Portsmouth, NH. She'd seen it in a funky little clothing shop and -- knowing my fondness for pockets -- thought I might like it.

And she was right.

Little did she know that she was starting a fashion trend for me which would last up until about a month ago. Really, with the exception of a few formal occasions, I'm pretty sure that for the last decade I have worn four-pocket shirts exclusively -- light cotton ones in the summer, heavier linen or hemp ones in the winter. And they were extremely practical, as I tend to carry around a bunch of stuff with me that conveniently fit into those four pockets. They also didn't need to be tucked in, which -- given the weight I'd put on over those years -- was another plus.

But the four-pocket shirts are now fading from my life. I'm keeping a few -- they're comfortable, and I've discovered that with a few of them at least they actually look okay when tucked in. (You can't use the lower tier of two pockets, but that's okay). However, I suspect that over the next year or so those will disappear as well. They're just not me anymore.

And that's because in so many ways, I'm not me anymore. At least, not the me from before my "epiphany". Yes, I do retain much of my previous self, my long-established personality quirks, good and bad, my basic nature… but so much has changed. I am seeing life in such a fresh way. It's not entirely easy, although I see it as being very nearly entirely good -- I'm struggling with a lot of emotions that have been bottled up, throttled down, covered in dust for a long time. I've told Jeannine a few times that I feel like some kind of animal which has molted, abandoning its old, worn, dead shell for a new one, one which is raw and new and open to lots of feelings, both good and bad.

The new shell will toughen up over time, and this phase will go away. But my goal -- and I have pledged to Jeannine that I will stick to it (I mean, yesterday I literally got down on one knee, took her hands, and made this pledge) -- is that I will never let that shell get between us again.

My therapist (who I wish I had started seeing a long time ago, as he has helped me a great deal over the last two years) cautions me that these kinds of evolutions are not linear, that they can be more of a spiral path, and that I may from time to time come close to or even temporarily enter that foggy realm from which I have escaped. I believe he's right, and I will be on the lookout for those missteps. It's possible that I will make them.

But I now have great motivation to avoid them… and that, I think, will help me a lot.

So back to the clothes closet… into more than a dozen thirteen-gallon plastic drawstring bags went piles of shirts, pants, shoes, hats, and t-shirts. I even tossed in all except one of the "Signature Series" TMNT shirts that had been produced using artwork I'd done specifically for them. I did keep a few of the old glow-in-the-dark TMNT t-shirts from the early years, though I suspect they may not stay too long.

And the sense of freedom after completing this task was wonderful. I still have a long way to go -- there's a lot more stuff to go through and get rid of. But this was a great start, and I thank Jeannine once again for gently pushing me to do it. -- PL

P.S. The "Out of the Woods" title for this blog entry comes from two sources -- one, my great sense of relief that I have somehow managed to stumble "out of the woods" of depression and unhappiness; and two, for the beautiful creature in the photo I took yesterday while Jeannine and I were bicycling on our new favorite bike path. Jeannine spotted the deer, and alerted me to its presence… and the deer was nice enough to stay in one spot while I unlimbered my camera and got a couple of shots with the zoom lens.


Anonymous said...

Its a really nice thing you donating clothes like that. im sure a lot of people will be glad you came along to help them out. you might even spot a few people wearing retro ninja turtle shirts lol. very very cool.

again, i sincerely hope every day for you that you get happier and happier as the days go by. its a beautiful world out there so live it up!

GreenWillow said...

Peter I am so happy for you.
For what it's worth, your evolving self-reclamation is inspirational for me to follow. I think this means it's the *second* time you've helped serve as inspiration for my own personal evolution (the first being of course the Turtles who long ago got me drawing and writing again after years of not doing things I love.)
I think it's really intriguing that your therapist brought up the concept of spiral patterns in how we grow and learn. It's a model I've used for understanding my own path as well as my clients'. The thing to remember too, is that even though we may pass through the same, or at least similar rough patches, the path is spiral, not circular; it ascends as well as cycles so that each time we pass the "same" place we are doing so at a greater level of sophistication and with more and better tools to get through it.
Heh.. sorry about my long-windedness. All I really meant was to send you a virtual thumbs up.


DJB said...

Your newest under taking has motivated me to do the same. I have many clothes that could be donated. But I have a question, and hopefully it doesn't sound selfish. How about donating your TMNT shirts to me? I will gladly donate 2 brand new shirts for every TMNT shirt I receive! Win win situation?

Brookslyn said...


Thanks for sharing your latest adventure. I think a lot of people will be able to relate. When you were accumulating all that stuff in your closet (and I assume elsewhere), did you realize it was a problem but emotionally could not get rid of things or do you think your depression just zapped you of any energy to sort through it all? Just wondering.

Nacho said...

There is nothing better than donate the stuff that u do not want nor use anymore... in this way you help other and you feel lighter, fresher -i am doing a literal translation, so not sure if those are the right words-.

Powder said...

Its great to see you rid yourself of the past 'you' who you no longer wish to be. A fresh beginning is great for everyone. I gotta say +100 pts to you for being one of the few who thinks of others when getting rid of things (I'm referring to your goodwill donations). So many people just chuck the stuff. In a similar spirit, I had a cool idea maybe you could get into. IF you should ever choose to part with the (now very rare) glow in the dark shirts or any other TMNT stuff you should put them on ebay or sell them at mirage & have the money go to sea turtles who were harmed in the BP oil spill. Over the years I have put alot of money into helping turtles & even adopted a few all thanks to ads in the comics & other nods from Murph. I think it would be an awsome gesture. Instead of throwing them out due to resentment, you could help the very creatures that inspired their creation. Just a thought. Keep in good spirits, Pete!

From Mary's Pen said...

It's brave of you to go on this journey, let alone share some of it here... Though I suppose that's what writers do, we draw on our lives and in turn share. It's a rather strange existence at times, but by living it you have enriched so many lives, my own included.

Best of luck. Your wife sounds like a proper treat, and a very lucky woman.

Rejoicing in the day,