Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trip Down Memory Lane... treasures in the trash

I took on a project a few weeks ago - a daunting task really. Since my divorce in 1999 I've moved countless times but continued lugging with me a couple of file caddy's full of paperwork and adding to them with new court proceedings, debt collections, etc. It's the kind of stuff you wish you could just forget but can't just throw away. Well, this collection of crap er...paperwork was taking up a LOT of space in my spare room closet (4 boxes worth), not to mention that the past 4 yrs it has been added to with crap from my present husband/life. So I decided that it was time to go through it once and for all and either throw away, shred or file. What that meant was that I had to touch thousands of pieces of paper not just once but twice. Ugh. Daunting, right?

I can say it took a lot longer than expected but then again I wasn't on any time frame. This task became a journey into my past of circumstances and situations that I would rather forget. For the most part there was a LOT of financial stuff (credit card statements, bank statements, etc) that just needed to be shredded. There were also court proceedings from my very trying divorce. Paperwork that reminded me of what lengths my ex went through to keep me from getting anything that I had coming to me. This brought up all kinds of unpleasant feelings and memories. It was painful to go through this stuff. Boy did it feel good to shred it all! It was like cutting a ball and chain off of me. There was a 2-3 yr time period during my divorce that I was just at the bottom and wondered if I'd ever be happy again. I went through financial ruin, emotional turmoil and I made some really bad mistakes - mistakes that I don't think I can ever completely forgive myself for but that I have learned to live with. I make amends today still by being the best person I can be one day at a time.

In this mountain of bad memories there was a small percentage of priceless jewels - I had saved all my children's special awards from school as well as all the awards that I received from their schools for being Room Mom, special helper, etc. It reminded me that I was a very involved parent and helped smooth over the pain of my errors. The best prize that I came across was buried in a set of medical records for my youngest child. You see I was her foster mother when she was just 6 weeks old and she never left us after that. We formally adopted her when she was 2 1/2 - before that I wasn't allowed to change her name so when the time came she already knew her name so we changed her middle name and her last name of course. I also did not have anything from when she was a newborn. She was placed in protective custody within 24 hours after her birth as her mother was a known drug user and and the baby tested positive for cocaine. I picked up these medical records of her short 5 day stay in the hospital when she was born and read through each page (what I could decipher). She was 5 lbs 2 oz, 18 inches long. She was actually pretty healthy for a drug exposed infant with her apgar scores 7 and 9. I teared up reading what the mother said (lies) and how sad it was to have to leave this baby motherless. It made my heart ache. Within the pages was something I had somehow missed before - her newborn footprints. I can't tell you how happy this made me - to have something from those early hours of her life are precious beyond belief to me.

This made the whole process worth it. And now my house is all cleaned out of old, useless, paperwork and memories leaving only the treasures that I choose to keep in my home and my heart.

All the shredded crap going to the recycle pile to be made into something useful.


HomeSlice said...

i teared up reading it too, seeing those footprints. going through those things can be cathartic - like shedding skins - so i'm really glad you were able to get it done :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow. What an undertaking, Linda. How good to have it done with, and what a jewel you found in that paper haystack! Awesome.

Christina said...

Beautiful post Linda. I know that you feel there are things in the past you need to make amends for, but I hope you also know that there are many of us who would stand up for you any time and testify to the fact that you are a wonderful, caring and kind individual. You are not your past, you have changed and you are awesome.

I love the footprints, how special to find them amidst the bad memories. It just goes to prove that the past was not all bad, yes?