Earlier in the summer several years ago, I drove to my parent’s home for the second time in two months. Arriving on their porch, I felt very cautious, ever hopeful about the unexpected intersection of our lives after more than a decade of being out of communication with my entire family of origin.

My mother greeted me as her fake, happy imposter, the self she masterfully crafted for many others to love and experience in public spaces. I knew my window of opportunity remained brief. She guided me to the attic of the house, which never ever felt like a childhood home. I stood there in the stuffy heat, the acrid smell of moth balls permeating the air. She handed me clothing she no longer needed or wanted. The items included dresses from my past: a bright yellow, shimmering bridesmaid’s dress I wore for my cousin’s wedding, the Laura Ashley wedding gown, hat, veil, and hoop from my first wedding.

I suddenly realized I was supporting my mother’s decluttering. At that moment I felt happy to do so without the full awareness that my actions supported my own continued journey of liberation. With a full heart knowing I performed an act of kindness for my mom, I began to silently forgive her. She thanked me and astonishingly offered no explicit instructions on where the items should or shouldn’t go. I loaded the clothing in the cargo section of my minivan.

I pulled out of the driveway with a beautiful blue sky, white puffy clouds above me, the sunshine filling my whole being. These outfits from her past and my past briefly accompanied me as I discovered deeper layers of strength for who I had been, who I could become as a whole person beyond failed marriages. Anchors began to form inside the center of me that included agency, a fuller awareness of self-love, self-acceptance, forgiveness.  I would never again be a better or worse half of any other person.

Within days, I donated all the items except four, which I quickly forgot about during the intense whirlwind of navigating the final stages of a divorce, settling into a new home, re-launching my business, and caring for my troubled teen son.

A couple weeks later, I laughed when a feng shui convergence happened in my minivan. While traveling to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver’s license, maiden name restored, I realized that the wedding dress, hat, veil, and hoop graced the cargo section, a stack of divorce settlement papers rode shotgun, while the soundtrack from “A Star is Born” played loudly through the sound system.

Wasn’t this every little girl’s dream moment?

I felt like a character in a romantic tragedy comedy movie.  I could hear the audience whispering to one another, What’s she going to do next?

The situation made me remember the Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn’t belong.”

Yet every item told the story of a past, a future unfolding through terrified nights and a thousand courageous, brand-new actions by day.

In my imagination I waved the white flag of surrender as the younger versions of myself quieted their begging. The internal battle became a gentler scuffle of my younger selves making faces at one another. My Adult Self began to grow strong enough to love, accept, and value my many inner children, including Terrified Tammy, Resentful Renee, Jealous Judy, Pity Party Patty, and Inspired Ivy. I dropped off the wedding dress, hat, hoop, and veil at a local charity. I continued driving, happily anticipating meeting delightful strangers while standing, legally emancipated, in the long line at the BMV.



The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.