The Shedding Instinct

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

I’m shedding. Though I’m sure some people would say I’m molting.

Flying By Night novel

But in any case, I’m shucking off huge chunks of my old life, whether I like it or not and whether I initiate it or not. It’s just happening.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Before my daughters were born, I went through an intense urge to get everything ready for the new baby. It’s called the “nesting instinct,” and I’d read all about it and knew it was coming.

But what’s this? It’s not an “un-nesting instinct.” Not exactly, anyway. I don’t have an empty nest, and it’ll be quite a while before my nest is empty.

There’s a bit of the need to fix things up and decorate and get everything just so, but it’s in odd ways. I can decorate but I can’t buy new furniture or knick-knacks. The instinct is so strong that I physically cannot make the purchase. I can buy flowers and birdboxes and build a new patio, but I can’t buy anything else for my walls. Or dishes. Or even linens. Nothing, really, to put into the house. Not even a new Goddess statue, for Hestia’s sakes!

I can buy clothes…but nothing that reeks of the office. Flow-y stuff. Soft skirts and silky blouses and satin shoes with beads and sequins on them. A feminine touch. Dresses. The kind of dresses I think of as perfect for dinners out or fancier social gatherings in my home. Or someday, just for one man…at home…candlelight and wine…me in a flowing dress with no hosiery and likely no shoes or panties and very little jewelry but a definite sparkle in my eyes. That kind of stuff I can buy. Oh, yes.

But not suits. No. No suits. Or conservative attire for office dinner parties. Or designer clothes for the sake of designer clothes. Or anything expected of me. No, I can buy only things I love, things that fit my new style.

There are certain upscale restaurants that have lost their flavor. I mean, very upscale restaurants, but they remind me of my old life and I just have no interest in dining there or being seen there. None.

Maybe this is normal. While I was going through my divorce, there was a strong survival instinct to keep something intact for the kids. So they wouldn’t have so much changing around them. That’s why I struggled to keep the house. I wanted something to be “normal” for them.

And then the next step was creating a place of my own, with my own decorations and my own identity, and with whatever color I wanted for whatever walls. A home that reflected me and reflected my tastes and reflected my new life with my girls.

So why this? Why now?

Things are just now evening out and getting into a routine, and things are good. And yet….

It’s like huge chunks of my old life, chunks I didn’t even realize were so much a part of everything I took for granted around me, are falling away. I should probably be more upset by this, but I’m just so stunned that all I can do is blink and wonder what’s going on.

My guides keep telling me, “Prepare, prepare, prepare!” I got inklings of this last summer. Then stronger ones in the fall. Over the past couple of months, it’s ratcheted way up, and I’m a little worried about where this instinct will carry me next, especially since my very intuitive kids are feeling the winds of change, too.

The scary moment today was when I passed up a chance to go with Aislinn to Tuesday Morning, Inc., over in Sandestin, one of my favorite places for buying upscale stuff for the house at a huge discount. I had—gulp—absolutely no interest. I tried to talk myself into it but just couldn’t. She and I actually walked through two home decor stores I adore and a trendy clothes shop but I couldn’t muster the slightest interest. Okay, I did pick up a kitchen trivet with a symbol for harmony on it but I put it back down. I have trivets with Celtic knots already and others with Dutch hex symbols for Pennsylvania Pow-wow magick in the kitchen.

So standing in the middle of one of these stores full of so many things from my old life, plus so many of the kinds of things I’ve put into building my life since, I realized how disconnected I felt from things I’ve always been attached to, things I’ve hung onto but don’t fit wherever it is my new life is going. Like a too-expensive sweater that just seemed to say country-club all over it.

I thought about how my divorce counselor, a gifted psychic in his own right, had told me that in just a few years, I would have a new man and a whole new life and everything was going to be so very good and so full of joy and prosperity for us both and I’d looked at him doubtfully because I couldn’t even fathom ever being with any man again.

I put the sweater back on its rack, and the thought occurred to me…how many suits are hanging in my closet? I never wear them anymore.

They’re just not me anymore.

I’ve worn two or three suits in the past year, and then only when I’ve had to brief Generals and their equivalents…and even the last briefing I did, I wore a velvet skirt with a Goth-ish blouse, sequined flats, and a Goddess necklace, and nobody questioned my expertise on the subject. No one said, You’re not wearing a suit so therefore you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

The suits I’ve worn for my entire career don’t fit me anymore, regardless of the size. The dresses I used to wear to the Ocean Club Restaurant just aren’t me either. I think of those clothes and they’re more like a hologram of who I am…or even who I was then. They were the expectation and not the real thing. And now that I’m dressing more like the real thing and immersing in my own style, I’m shedding the trappings of the old life.

Previously, I would have decided to clean out my closet and donate suits that no longer suit to the local Goodwill store. For 10 years or more, they’ve always been thrilled to get my old career clothes. But the last time I dropped by to donate a car-full of things I no longer needed or had room for, the woman at Goodwill spied the pentagrams on the back of my car and told me they didn’t need any of my stuff, thank you very much, and she’d haul it to the dumpster if I left any of it. So I donated it to the Methodist Church down the street and they were very happy to get it, regardless of its heathen origins.

But this time, my inner guidance says not to donate my old items to charity, but rather, to sell them. There’s a special purpose in the future, and I’ll need a little extra money to finance it.

Maybe it’s the healing center I want to start. Maybe it’s for hypnotherapy school. I don’t know.

I know only that I’m shedding the last remnants of my old life and getting ready for something completely new…and wonderful. That last part is probably the only reason I’m not in hysterics.


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