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Cleaning out my closet

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By Emily LaForme

Lately, I’ve been trying to clean out my closet. The metaphorical closet in my head where I’ve stuffed any unresolved hang up over the years and left them there to rot in the back of my mind. The kind of stuff that you start thinking about on really long drives or sitting by the ocean at night, which I did a few weeks ago on vacation.

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A lot of times in life, I’ve shoved things aside so I didn’t have to deal with them and confront the issue at hand.

Like I said, lately, I’ve found myself getting to a really good place in my life and I’ve felt a lot of personal growth, and part of that is acknowledging some of the hard stuff.

I had a best friend for years, from middle school up until my freshman year of college. She was always a good friend, probably one of the most loyal friends I had ever had, and when other friends may have let me down, she never did. She also was the friend who had a metaphorical closet that was overfilling and bursting at the seams with unresolved hang ups, and it all came to a head when she moved in with my family after my freshman year of college.

She was at a point in her life where everything seemed to be crashing down on her and she didn’t know how to get herself out of the mess she had found herself in. That was also a time when I was at a pretty low point in my own life (and, no kids, I’m not saying that college will do that to you), and I think we both lost sight of things because we were so focused on our own baggage. Anyway, she decided to leave, abruptly, and she checked out, causing a lot of hurt feelings that she probably had never intended on causing in the first place. I, of course, was so devastated that she was choosing to leave that I didn’t pay attention to the why, which was because she felt like she had truly hit rock bottom. Instead, all I heard and felt was that she did not want to be with us anymore.

On the day she announced she was leaving, resulting in emotional chaos from everyone, I stopped speaking to her, and haven’t spoken to her up until a week ago. That was almost four years ago. I had been so hurt by everything, that I had shoved it aside. I was sad for a day, and then I simply shoved it way down into that closet where I didn’t have to deal with it anymore. I had a matching tattoo with that girl, and in order for me to not deal with everything, I covered it up with a different tattoo so that I could tell myself in my mind that everything had been resolved. I deleted photos. I did whatever I could to virtually erase her from my life. If there was a reminder of the loss that I felt, I was going to hide it to the best of my ability.

It wasn’t until resolving other hang ups in my closet that I realized I still had this big one. I had never just told her how her leaving had made me feel, how her cruel words in a moment of desperation had ruined a good thing. Now that I’m older and see she finally is in a good place just like I am, I began to understand where she was coming from those years ago, and it felt a little silly to not clear the air in order for us to both move on at peace with one another.

So I emailed her, and I told her exactly where I was coming from and I wished her well, and you know what happened? I felt a weight come off of my shoulders that I hadn’t realized was always sitting there, even before I heard her reply. I did get a reply, and she cleared the air on her side of things, too, and you know what happened? We both ended up able to catch up and we both feel a lot better, all because we cleaned out our closets. We both apologized for our wrongs, and we both admitted to this pain that had never gone away.

I don’t know that we’ll be friends again like we were, but we have a bond that has held up even after all of this time, and we both feel better, and sometimes I think that is more important than anything. It took me acknowledging that I had been in the wrong, too. I was not the victim in all of this, and it took me looking at the bigger picture from all sides to see what I hadn’t before. Sometimes, we have to lay down our pride, our emotions, and our own faults and just let things go, and it becomes a greater reward than you had anticipated. There is a way to let things go without forcing them to gather dust and cobwebs in your mind and your heart. There’s no greater feeling than finally finding peace with something that has been hanging over you for so long, and now we both have it.