What Does a Wedding Dress Have to Do with Writing? Everything!

by Judy Stone-Goldman on July 8, 2010

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This post was first published July 7, 2010, as a guest blog on Our Little Books, a great site that is “dedicated to producing educational, inspirational and fun little books” and encourages people to publish their own little book.

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Are you a saver? I am. I save mementos and heirlooms, feelings and ideas, and countless memories. My cache is great for reminiscing, but sometimes it becomes a burden. I was reminded of this yesterday when cold July weather sent me searching for my Christian Dior suit.

I loved this suit: lightweight wool, creamy white, big gold buttons down the front of the jacket, and a pleated knee-length skirt. This was my wedding dress in 1994, and at the time I couldn’t wait to wear it. Except I never did—the weather changed from June cold to July hot, and I had to wear a different dress. I stored the suit in a closet (tags still on it) and the disappointment in my mind.

Then yesterday I put the suit on—first time in over 15 years—expecting a resurgence of good feelings. But the image in the mirror contradicted my memory:  the suit (with me in it) was remarkably unattractive and outdated. The shoulder pads were comical, the long jacket ill proportioned, and the color unflattering.

My husband and I had a good laugh together, and then we asked, “What happened? How can this be so wrong?” Indeed, how could it be? How could the suit look so beautiful in our memory and so foolish in the present? And what does it mean that it hung like a museum piece, unworn for 16 years?

We all have things we save. Some are sweet reminders of a cherished past; some are markers for unfinished business. But what do we do when we lose our balance and forget how to surrender what no longer serves us? How do we overcome the roadblock we created with all that we’ve saved?

We can write. Writing brings images and feelings out of storage, helping us face what is held back. I ask, “What did this suit stand for in my life? What has been the point of holding onto it, unworn?” Then I write, answering my questions and letting new questions emerge.

Perhaps the suit was a fantasy about who I would be in the marriage, a “new me” in a “new life.” Perhaps leaving it unworn kept a dream protected:  once worn, the new would become ordinary, and the chance for a new beginning would be diminished. The more I write, the more I find layers to explore. Clothes, weight, achievement, marriage, aging—who would imagine one suit could hold so much?

What is in your closet that is unworn? What is in your mind that is hidden or burdensome? Consider this an invitation to explore what you still need and clear out what you don’t. As for me, I am ready to donate my Christian Dior suit to the local Goodwill.  Tags and all.

Questions for Reflection: Are you a saver or do you get rid of things quickly? What sorts of things have you held onto?

Writing Prompts: I have always been someone who (saves/doesn’t save) and I know _______  (then keep writing). When I think of letting go of _____, I feel _____ (then keeping writing).

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