Start small and carry a large trash bag

Trash bag postWhen you don’t know where else to start, go to a neglected place and bring with you a large trash bag. This applies to me more than ever tonight as I try my hardest to let go of self-destructive behaviors and trash from the past.

When you find that neglected place treat it tenderly but treat the trash like it’s burning a hole in your soul. Get rid of it. Don’t hold on to anything you think you might need, because you won’t. Don’t save something because it had meaning 20 years ago. Don’t keep it because it’s comfortable—whatever it is. Whether it’s an old habit that causes you familiar (and weirdly comfortable) pain or an old shirt that smells like a memory, dump it in the bag and don’t look back.

I did this a lot in the beginning, starting in the spare room and moving through the house. The closets with their broken doors, the dust-filled corners of the rooms, the garage full of junk and mouse droppings. I have before pictures of these neglected places. I get them out and look at them from time to time when I think I haven’t made any progress. They look a lot like I did back then, uncared for and treated with indifference. Not at all what we look like now.

It’s an easy place to start–or start over–so I go back there often when I need to take baby steps again. But it means something and the results are instant. All you have to do is bend over from time to time, grasp something with your gloved, dominant hand, and then just let . . . it . . . go. . . into the trash bag.

As you feel stronger, if you have a rubber mallet or a hammer in your house, you can start breaking apart things you always hated, like that old table, the crappy fake-wood office desk your sister gave you, or the faces you have been wearing for others; faces that keep others’ secrets, that tell their lies, wear their feelings instead of your own.

Then hoist it all over your head and haul it all out to the street. Even if the trash doesn’t come for several days and you are worried about what the neighbors will think, take it out there now. Next week no one will remember how long it sat there. If you do all of this, I promise, your biceps will be in the best shape of their lives, your core will strengthen, and you will begin to notice yourself again. Then before you know it you will be ready for the next big task.

That’s what I do anyway.

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