“You’ve got to get rid of it. It’s a miracle you even remarried.”
My friend Hope, a brilliant life-coach and stylist, was helping me cleanse my closet of every piece of clothing which no longer served me and the life I crave.
Once we were done, and more than ½ the items I’d had hanging in the closet were in bags to be donated, Hope asked…
“So is that it? Anything else?”
With a big sigh, I crouched down, slid out a huge Chanel box, and lifted up the heavy, full-length beaded gown.
“Wow! What’s that!?” Hope exclaimed.
It was my Oscar dress.
Back in 2004, the documentary I co-created and co-starred in, Super Size Me, was nominated for an Academy Award. To get ready for the big event, I appeared on a makeover show called “How Do I Look?” and was given a gorgeous beaded gown. The host, Finola Hughes, co-star of the cult hit and personal favorite Staying Alive, called me “red carpet radiant.” I thought I had hit the big time!
We didn’t win that night, but Morgan and I went on to premiere the film in over 20 countries, got married, had a beautiful little boy together, and then, separated and finally divorced. What a roller coaster ride…and through it all, I kept that dress.
I didn’t keep much from our marriage besides the kid, the memories, my engagement ring (which was stolen in a burglary 5 years ago), and that dress.
As I held the dress up for Hope to see, I realized how heavy it was: physically and emotionally.
“Why are you holding onto this dress, Alex?” asked Hope.
A dozen reasons jumped to mind, but none of them felt good enough:
- It was a hand-beaded designer dress! I only wore it once and it was worth at least $1000.
- I should save it for another amazing event some day
- I should save it for my daughter (BTW, I’ve happily decided not to have more kids)
- It was a huge moment in my life – how can I give this dress away??
- It looked amazing on me!
But something deeper was hidden in the folds of the tissue-wrapped silk and beading:
I was holding onto an unexamined belief that
I’ll never make anything that great again…
that the best contribution of my life was behind me…
that this dress is the best I’ll ever be.
Then I decided that these ideas were bullshit and it was time to say goodbye.
I asked my friend Kate Northrup, author of Money: A Love Story, who also teaches Feng Shui for Financial Freedom, what she thought of keeping this dress, under my bed no less?
Kate wrote back:
“Anything that’s no longer a reflection of who you are and who you want to be in the future needs to be released ASAP. This includes old clothes, furniture, and anything else that’s not up to par with your current reality and your desired future.”
Hope and I talked about all of this, sitting on the bed together, touching and admiring the craftsmanship of the dress.
A few weeks ago another group of girlfriends gasped when I told them the dress was still under my bed. “It’s a miracle you even remarried! Talk about bad relationship mojo!” They were right. But I just wasn’t ready.
Now I am.
“It’s time.” I said, finally.
I’d wasted endless, worrying energy thinking about the dress and what to do with it. Ultimately, I’d done nothing, feeling lame for being lazy and indecisive.
It had all gone on too long, and it was time.
This Monday evening, I walked the heavy Chanel box to a resale shop in SoHo, filled out the consignment form, and walked out. I left the store feeling strange: light, yet a bit sad. A little empty.
I had scheduled a date with a good friend, and we met for a glass of wine to celebrate our lives. She toasted the dress, and we plotted our future triumphs.
The dress was beautiful.
It will be beautiful on another woman.
I hope it brings her incredible good fortune, whoever she is.
The dress itself, truthfully, means nothing. But it held an energy – a broken promise – and regret within its threads.
Moving forward often requires letting go of the things to which we cling. The heavy, the outdated, the old.
An entire identity – beliefs, myths, and unspoken agreements – attached like white cat hairs on black velvet.
That dress was a constant reminder of a younger woman’s dreams. Some became a reality, and some were shattered.
Now it’s time for a more mature woman’s dreams to take flight and come true. A dream dressed in fine new cloth and new energy.
Join me in saying goodbye to the one thing that’s keeping you tied to the past in a way that no longer serves you.
Maybe it’s a dress in your own closet (or under your bed!) Maybe it’s a way of eating, a way of being with people, a town or home you live in, or a job or relationship you’re still in after too many years.
Toast your glass high to the dress.
Let it go.
Let’s fly forward together.
Let’s create the life we crave.
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