I’ve been preparing for the colder weather by decorating and cleaning.
This has included going through old papers deciding what needs to be shred. Some of the things I’ve come across, like a term paper from 20 years ago, have given me a good laugh. Yesterday, however, I came across some that document loss – of job opportunities, of time, of plans for a family.
Reading them was like reliving the painful experiences over again.
Cancer left more heart-centric feelings than head-centric memories. I had no time to think of it during; only survive. I was blessed to be cured of cancer, but the treatment took its toll not just on my body but on my life.
I’ve come across old calendars.
They remind me I was constantly “in the hole” at work using the Family Medical Leave Act to take time off without pay after using up all my paid vacation time and paid sick time for my medical appointments. It seemed like the only time I spent with family and friends was when they accompanied me to doctor visits. Weeknights and weekends I used for resting to recoup the energy I expended from working.
All work and no play took its toll, physically and especially mentally.
It wasn’t long before I had the most serious manic-depressive episode I’ve ever experienced. I wish I could go into more detail, but it was so severe I only remember waking up in a psych ward with no memory of the four months prior.
When I ask about those months…
My husband gets a faraway look in his eyes and starts describing my mother going crazy like Shirley MacLaine in the movie “Terms of Endearment”. When I ask my mother she does start to sound like Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” and tells me that it’s probably a good thing I don’t remember. My best friend who visited me in the hospital she can’t even talk about it; her eyes fill up with tears. All of them say ‘We weren’t sure we would get you back.’
What is Past is Prolong
My husband has encouraged me to throw out the old stuff and let the bad memories go. He promised I could rely on him, my family, and friends to be my memory. So with that, I promised in return that I’d toss it but ‘Wow – it is freakin’ hard!’
I am really relating to the people on the television show “Hoarders”.
As I’m purging the past, I’m keeping these things in mind:
- I’m making space for new positive memories and experiences.
- CTRL+ALT+DELETE. Take control, consider alternatives, delete what doesn’t work!
- Can I get this elsewhere (the library, online, from a friend)? If yes, discard!
- If I died what would my loved ones do with it? Try to minimize possessions!
- Do I already have one? For example, a VHS taps and a DVD of the same movie? Consider discarding both because I can probably get it at library or on Netflix!
- Can’t decide? Place in a “save for later” box. Things still in the box 6 months/1 year from now can then be purged.
- Think of others who would make better use or appreciate more things I am not using (like clothes, shoes, purses, blankets, toys, etc). Feel good about helping others less fortunate and donate them to a local St. Vincent DePaul or women’s shelter!
- And most importantly, in addition to singing the theme song from Disney’s movie “Frozen” while I clean I am reminding myself to let go of
- my attachment to things
- hurts (real and perceived)
- things that make my heart feel heavy
- old plans and desires
- the past!!