As part of my "Don't Break the Chain" initiative, I decided to pull out boxes of old papers and finally get them organized. It's something I've been putting off for a very long time, and now I remember why.
The early stages weren't bad. Copies of recent utility bills, most of them paid, don't have a lot of sentiment attached. Same for the car insurance statements, miscellaneous bills, pay stubs and old check registers. Filing those is tedious, but hardly traumatizing.
Soon, however, I stripped away the layer of bookkeeping topsoil and started to uncover all too many failures and disappointments.
There were the emails from an old friend who is no longer a friend. I'm reminded of how much I loved his stories about the theater and his zany life as an actor. We parted company many years ago, and I am sad to be reminded of that loss.
I found stories I had written as part of a memoir class and writing group I once belonged to. Something went wrong and I no longer felt welcome. I miss the group and I miss the writing they inspired me to do.
Dry investment statements reminded me of when I had cash to invest and it made me regret giving up dabbling in stocks. I didn't make a fortune, but I did better than most, but somewhere along the way I lost faith in my ability to choose well and I quit. I sold most of my stocks to buy my house. It's a fair trade, but I miss playing the market.
The weight chart from Curves reminded me of when I had both the free time and the energy to work out faithfully once every day (sometimes 2 or more times a day). Now I have a membership in a gym I have not visited once since I joined over a month ago.
The stacks of documents from my lost court case and the files from my lost business cut deeply, but much less so than the reminders of family members with whom I have little or no contact.
Digging through the never-ending stacks of yellowing receipts, creased bills and bent photos, I am reminded of why I prefer to forget the past. Sometimes it's just too painful to face, and a heck of a lot of work besides.