The paper part very nearly took me down. Going through nine years of forgotten papers, nine years of a life in a rather stuck place…I spent over a week in paper purgatory, ignoring emails and life, swallowed whole by my not yet tidy house.
Singing & Shredding & Swearing
“Let it go, let it go,” I sang over the shredder, watching the statements from a traumatic and unexpected surgery disappear.
“Let it go,” as all documentation from my car accident, all correspondence with lawyers who took more than their share, the doctor’s statements of the chronic pain, a war fought, but not won.
The helplessness, the feeling of being overwhelmed, knowing that I was the only champion of my cause and I was already exhausted from pain, from the effort.
A bill from nine years ago, forgotten, the guilt. Articles on diet and exercise, neglected. Let.
Pay stubs from a job I hated. It.
The resume for the career I never followed, never wanted, the student loan bills piled up, the different versions of myself I had tried on, cast off, forgotten, piled up around me, clamoring for my attention. Go.
The kind well wishes in cards when my dad passed away suddenly, eight years ago. Instead of feeling the kindness and love intended, I’m drowned anew by the unexpected grief, the shock.
Let it go.
The weight lifted just over a week later, after the last old credit card was in pieces, the last memory dealt with and released, the last lingering of guilt for the past shredded away, goodbye. It’s not just about the massive waste of paper taking up space in my life, overfilling drawers in my small two-bedroom condo, where space is so needed. It was the heaviness of those battles fought, but not won, the hard lessons, choices and mistakes, sitting in indecision, “just in case,” drawing my emotional energy in what should be my space of peace and rest.
At the doctor’s office, the nurse hands me a document summarizing the visit.
I shriek, backing away, practically throwing the horrible paper back at her.
“It’s for your records,” she protests.
Do I really need documentation of a cold? “If only you had a solid slip of paper from that one time you had a cold. Then we’d let you go,” they’d say. Aw, too bad.
The receptionist hands me a receipt for the same visit. No! I give this back, too. The receipt at the grocery store, the junk mail in through the door, the army of paper trying to march back in like a zombie movie. NOOOO!
I throw it ALL away now. Immediately. Done. With. Paper.
No matter how much you love it, do not print out this blog post. It will get filed away, forgotten for years. Unless you are taking it directly to a publisher or agent. That would be okay.
I’m lovin’ it…It was worth the ‘weight’. Oh, no, that was the OLD papers. It was worth the ‘wait’!!!
Haha! I know what you mean!
So true! Thanks for the inspiration, Laura! If you could see the stacks of depressing paperwork taking up all surface space (all three dressers/night stands) in my bedroom right now. And the thousands of emails I think I may need to “reference later” (even though I haven’t in the past five years so why would I in the next five) weighing me down.
Katie, you can do this! It’s not easy, but it is WORTH IT!
I think I need to go back and do it again already.
I am using this Spring break to start the process of cleaning out my drawers and getting rid of all the paper too. It has just overwhelmed me. All the unnecessary clutter. I need to lighten my load too. Love your new adventure……
Thank you, Lauri!
How did the Spring Break tidying go?
I’ve been thinking of you. <3
I have too much paper too Laura!!! Ugh! Cleaning is so easy without clutter!
How timely — just discovered your blog through Tiny Buddha email. Yesterday our car hood got run over by a bus backing up (luckily we were not inside). Started the insurance reporting process, went to the file drawer to discover policies dating back 6 years but not the current one. Minor panic attack — averted when my husband went online and found it there, in effect, just not documented in a drawer. Tonight, I shred all those old, utterly worthless insurance policies! Cluttering up my filing cabinet and providing no solace or practical help when I actually need them.
Sorry to hear about your car, but so glad you were not inside! I was also surprised to notice how many “documents” are online with no need to take up our precious space. Hopefully you feel a little lighter and I hope everything is taken care of seamlessly for you with the car.
Laura! Wonderful post! I have to agree that it is VERY FREEING!!! Marie Kondo’s books are AMAZINGLY simply and super helpful! Indeed, when we lighten our load it enhances the light in our life!
I went through all my paperwork last month. It took forever and my shredder almost went on strike but it felt great when I was done!
Haha, Judy, My shredder kept going on strike, too! I had to take breaks. But that was probably better for my sanity anyways. So glad to hear it went great!
Laura, I love your article and will indeed try to take your advice…I’m piling up memento’s and other vary dox for many years. Till now hadn’t the real use of the stacked PAPER, so it should GO asap.
Yes, Vlatka, get rid of that paper! 🙂