“I fucking DID it,” I yelled over the phone to my sister as I collapsed onto the seat of my car, sweaty and relieved. After twelve years of bearing the judgy burden that was my purity ring, I had finally cast it into the fires of Mordor, a.k.a. my local pawn shop. My loins needed no keeper, and I had been ready for what seemed like an eternity to release them from their garnet-hearted, white gold shackle into a freedom where they were no longer secret and indeterminately safe. Don’t misunderstand me: it wasn’t like I was seconds away from auctioning off my virginity on the internet or anything. In fact, that wouldn’t even have been honest advertising because I had actually “lost” it years earlier.
Even after I broke the number one rule of Southern Christian Women’s White Club and was therefore excommunicated by my own compulsive contrition, I held on to that little sphere of influence. I let it fester in drawers and jewelry boxes, gathering dust and still occasionally pulsing a flare of ancient slut-shaming script in the dark hours of a random morning. She was still powerful, still awaiting her Mistress’ call, and still yearning to be found and worn again in an altar-call-of-the-soul moment.
No such moment would occur, though tempting the whispers of social acceptance were, purring their promises of praise and congratulations upon the day I would wear white and be walked down the aisle by one Master only to be given as a gift to another. Instead, this Mistress would find something more powerful, something so great that all the housewives in the world would quake with fear inside their stuffed suburban homes. Yep, I drank the delightful Kool-Aid that is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I boldly went where many white millennial wanna-be minimalist women have gone before, to the holy lands of The Container Store, and decided to make space for the abundance that I knew was coming my way.
This meant that I would have to hold every item that I possess in my tiny hands and ask said items whether or not they sparked joy in my heart. For the most part, I went through this process with ease and relief. I got rid of half my closet and sold a shit ton of furniture. I said goodbye to the copious amounts of items that no longer served me, graciously thanking them for their unethically produced and one-wear-only experiences. It wasn’t until I got to my jewelry stash that my tidying joy ride came to a screeching halt. My purity ring reemerged with a vengeance from underneath my graveyard of plastic accessories, and I stopped flowing. “What do I do now?” I thought to myself. “Oh yeah, hold it in my hands aaaannnnnddd ….. does it spark joy?”
My heart ballooned and slowly rose to fill my throat. Not a spark in sight—and strangely, it didn’t make me feel better. I began to feel worse. I kept repeating the ritual over and over again, as a hypothetical child I might know once repeatedly hung upside down on the monkey bars with her right arm outstretched, trying desperately to use the force to move various objects. No cigar. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t raise a feeling of acceptance or clarity from the dead. I wasn’t that girl anymore, and maybe I never was.
You would think that I then triumphantly marched to the pawn shop and sold the ring to relieve my anxiety, but you would be wrong. I went a few times and tried to sell it, but I always started sweating and feeling like I would regret it or that I was doing the wrong thing. It hung like a weight in my pocket for months. I fantasized about taking the stone out and doing something ironic and cool with it, or using the money I would get from the exchange to buy some kinky lingerie. The indecision began to eat away at me, and I needed some backup. I returned to the pages of Marie Kondo. She reminded me that the whole point of this tidying practice was to honor all of our things and to thank even the ones that no longer serve us as a guidepost for what we do not want, and then say goodbye, with gratitude and respect.
I closed the book and walked back into the pawn shop for the last time, said a prayer to the universe instead of the tiny god I used to believe in, and whispered a genuine thank you for showing me that all that is gold does not glitter.
top photo: Lord of the Rings
More from BUST
Whatever Happened To Those Girls Who Signed “Purity Pledges”? Hint: It’s Not Good
Exposed: The Gift Of Virginity And Purity Balls
Sex Ed In A Christian High School