A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Clothes

I spent several hours today ordering clothes online from L.L. Bean. I've ordered things from them before but not for a couple of years. Even so, they have inundated me with their catalogues. For the past couple of days I've been pouring over one of them trying to decide what to get and how much to spend. My mother encouraged me to go to an actual department store but because I am overweight I have little desire to see myself in mirror after mirror. I had to face the fact that I have not been exercising anywhere near enough in the past two months, hence my weight is still what it was then. But the clothes that I do have are so shoddy that I pushed myself to commit to getting some things. I know I will not look attractive but at least I'll be color coordinated and presentable and, most importantly, comfortable. I should have the clothes by the end of this week, so if any of them don't fit I'll be able to return or exchange them in time for the trip. I must admit while it lasted it was kind of fun to pick out clothes, to weigh which color and style I responded to, to make sure all the clothes I chose would go together.

Even when I was slim I never was very careful about what I wore. The main thing was always comfort. Once every year or so my mother would take me with her to Manhattan to shop at upscale department stores. She, unlike me, was careful about clothes and wanted to pass her love of good clothes onto me. I would go to please her but I remember knowing that I didn't want to become fixated on appearance. I would go but would grit my teeth in the changing room (she would often come in with me). I found shopping exhausting and really I think she did too, but the reward was the carefully chosen clothes we would come away with and a sense of accomplishment that we got through our personal disagreements and compromised. I think these outings were in some ways more important to her than to me.

My mother grew up pretty poor. Her mother made most of her clothes to my mother's dismay. Nana would be perfectly happy with a bargain from a thrift store (as would I) but my mother took after her father in this, they both admired fine clothes, store bought clothes. When my mother got older and began to work, she would go to her favorite stores and carefully select well-made, moderately expensive clothes, a little at a time. As she got older and my father made more money, she bought more clothes (and shoes). Sometimes I would sneak into my parents bedroom when they were at work and look through my mother's closet at all her brightly colored (but tasteful of course) dresses. Now she still has a couple of closets full of clothes but her style has changed. Much of her clothing is casual now that she's living in Florida. She often dresses up her outfits with fancy scarves or heavy jewelry, though on the whole she never overdoes it. I've come to respect her style. She always looks nice and comfortably so.

Because I am determined to go to church tomorrow I decided to look through the clothes that I do have to see if I could muster up anything half way decent to wear. I looked in a storage bin that I haven't looked at in years it seems. I found old but still wearable t-shirts and pants but nothing that could be considered even mildly dressed up. Then I looked in my closet and discovered I had some very nice things but all one to two sizes too small. I did find two long sleeved shirts, one of which I will wear tomorrow, along with two short sleeved shirts and two pairs of pants. The final thing to consider was what shoes shall I wear? Lately I only wear sneakers but under a pile of stuff in another closet I began pulling out shoes. A pair of cowboy boots that I bought out west when I was still in my twenties but didn't get around to wearing. I tried them on and they still fit and were comfortable. Two pairs of high heels (also from my twenties) that fit but happen to be the wrong color for tomorrow's outfit. Two pairs of moderately dressy boot/shoes, a bit scuffed, wrong colors and a very clunky pair of slip on shoes that I got at the salvation army sometime in the past six years. Not the greatest assortment. I'll be wearing pants so I think I'll try to get away with wearing the brown cowboy boots. Hopefully by next Sunday the L.L. Bean clothes will have arrived and I won't have to struggle so with all of this. I still need to get a pair of decent shoes to go with the new clothes which decidedly lean in a blue direction. For that, I will shop locally and if I'm lucky I'll find a moderately priced pair.

The final step will be buying light weight socks and some inexpensive jewelry, maybe a scarf if I can find one. I guess I'm set on changing, trying to put the bar a little higher. I really do want to recover and a big part of recovery is self-care. I want to reverse my reclusive tendencies by being more welcoming and more willing. Dressing decently says to people that I'm approachable. And I haven't dressed decently in a long time. I still have holes in my socks. I still will sleep in my clothes and not change them for several days. I still have to push myself to take care of the clothes I do have by washing and drying them and putting them away. I know all of this is a side effect of schizophrenia. I was several years into it, it's not surprising that it is taking me several years to get out of it. So I'm taking small steps.
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