In the years when we paid off all our debt (>$72,000 CC debt) I was constantly transferring amounts on the interest free credit cards to help lower the amount of payments we had to make. I kept all those credit card statements, demand letters, letters stating cards were closed and it was quite a large file of documents. Seeing them again was a reminder of how hard those years were. Trying to work while being sick and trying to care for ageing parents and young children when we both lost our jobs. I used to listen to Dave Ramsay every morning - how I loved hearing those debt free screams! I often felt overwhelmed and wondered if we could keep our home. I'm so grateful that we made it through that time and I never want to feel that way again.
I also shredded all the papers to do with caring for my mum, her dementia, her identity theft that saw her have all her lifes' savings stolen, with nothing that we could do to recover it, declaring bankruptcy, lots of family & legal matters. All at the same time we were trying to pay debt and recover from illness. It felt good to just get rid of all that.
My papers and client files from the years when I ran my own business. I had mixed feeling about this. I had loved working for myself and the work that I did. I only closed my business due to illness.That was the beginning of our debt problems. It was a reminder though that owning my own business comes with risks that I don't need to take on right now - as frustrated as I can be with my current job. As there is no sick pay, holiday pay, long service leave or training leave. While I could go back and work for myself if I need to in the future, now is not the time. It was nice to remember many old clients as I shredded their paperwork. There are some that I still need to keep for a few years yet as they were children when I saw them, but not many. This paperwork filled a four drawer filing cabinet so a lot of memories there!
And the last pile of papers with strong memories attached I only got copies of about a year ago. My parents divorced when I was young. It was a bitter, nasty divorce followed by an equally nasty custody case. Both parents remarried. Three of my four parents/stepparents are alcoholics and the other parent had a problem with prescription pills. I had a breakdown in my late 20's and was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the abuse ( mainly emotional) of growing up with domestic violence. Last year, at age 54 I decided to apply for the court papers of both the divorce and the custody case. I'm glad I did. I learned things I did not know. That my father had tried to keep in contact with me, that my mother had deliberately tried to make contact very difficult. I learned a lot of details that confirmed things I thought. I don't blame either - I've had too many years of therapy for that lol! It is what it is. Reading the documents helped. I re read some of the them as I shredded them. Both my parents are dead now. I am estranged from my siblings and I like it that way. Shredding these papers felt liberating! Its over. It really is. I get to choose how I want to spend my old age and I am not going to spend it looking backwards - theres too much living to do!
So shredding a lifetime of paperwork was not only good because its freed up a heap of space, its good because it feels like letting go of it all. I can't wait till I have gotten rid of more 'stuff' and am living with just what we need and want right now. My mum was a hoarder. My grandfather was a secondhand dealer. So keeping 'stuff' in case you need it one day was bred into us. It feels great to walk away from that - the physical and the emotional.
All I want is to have 'just baggage enough'.