The Life-Changing Magic of Throwing Shit Away

 Let Oscar hang on to that for you.

Let Oscar hang on to that for you.

Before I moved in with my now-fiancé, I rented a storage unit to keep a) furniture that wouldn't fit into our one bedroom apartment b) doubles of things I'd need in case it didn't work out and c) half a dozen cardboard boxes filled with my most precious memories. Now that we're three months away from marriage, if we ever break up I'll have much bigger problems than needing a new dish rack. So, we cleaned out the storage building, make a big donation Salvation Army, and lugged those boxes to our shared home.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to indulge myself in these treasured memories. I started with the scrapbooks I’d made during high school and my early college days. (It seems I stopped scrapbooking right around the time I was old enough to enter a bar.) I winced a little as I looked at the posed high school photos of myself pretending to have a good time with girls I barely even liked. I remembered how exasperating it was just to get through each day until I could finally leave my hometown.

Then, I found an e-mail, which I’d printed and glued to a bright colored page, with the subject line: Where we stand. It was not a love letter. My chest tightened as I read the e-mail, where a guy who wasn't even my boyfriend detailed all of the reasons he was dumping me. There were many. I wanted to delete it directly from my scrapbook. Why would I hang on to a break-up e-mail for SIXTEEN YEARS?  

I felt sad as I flipped through pictures of myself at parties when I knew I was miserable. At My 27th birthday, I’m smiling brightly even though I remember showing up two hours late because I was too depressed to get out of bed.

My moleskin journals were so much worse. My loneliness is palatable in those black notebooks which seem to be exclusively about my disappointment in myself and stream of continuousness anxieties about what in the hell I am doing with my life.  

In some ways, being diagnosed with depression is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I’ve had some hard times, but they were mostly good. I wish I could have enjoyed them all as the happy person I am now. Antidepressants haven’t made me a different person, but they all me to see the world without a dark filter.

As I went through the boxes I decided to only keep something if it brings me a good memory. I held on to actual love letters, any pictures of my family (even if I look terrible in the photo) and some of early press clips. In the end, I had three trash bags filled with shit that doesn’t make me happy. We all have enough bad memories to go around. We shouldn’t allow them to take up space in our life.