Saturday, July 07, 2007

the purge

We have been slowly going through our belongings--making piles of "things to keep", "things to donate", and "things to throw away." I have to say that we are making great progress and I think at this point we might have tossed more than we kept. Today we went through the binders of papers and notes we had collected while at college. The result? A recycle pile three feet tall.

Two of the binders I went through were emails, notes, and journal entries from several years ago, while I was struggling through a painful relationship with a roommate and a boy. It was interesting reading back through that time and seeing how far I had come in terms of maturity and perspective. Who was that girl? I wish I could go back and show her the way out. Let her know that it would all work out, but that was a better way than the one she chose. It was painful to read through and remember how sad I was. Sad, and scared, and afraid of being alone.

I debated for a while over whether or not I should keep the journal. On one hand, yes, I really lived that, and I felt those things, and made those choices. On the other hand, why keep record of something that I would never want anyone to read? Even the entries and letters that were happy—declarations of love, memorable dates and activities—were still part of this overall unpleasant anecdote. Is it right to destroy forever that part of me? But what if I want to finally just let it go? I want to be free of that old me. I want to be able to edit that part of my life—to only pass along the end lesson instead of the painful process. I remember loving that boy. I read those old words and I remember writing them. I remember thinking that it was a love that would last forever.

Ann Brashares expressed my feelings, my exact feelings, in Girls In Pants:

“She needed to be free of him. She needed to get on with her life. Maybe even to fall in love again. She had a candidate in mind.

“It was easy to wish to let go of the torture and the heartbreak and the missing. It seemed easy, at least. But there was a catch. To let go of the pain, she had to give up the other parts, too: the feeling of being loved. The feeling of being wanted and even needed. The way he looked at her and touched her. The way her name sounded when he said it. And yes, she did still read those letters. Time for a full confession: She did.

“It wasn’t the suffering she willfully clung to. It was the precious stuff. But the precious stuff attached her, irrevocably, to the pain.”

So, I threw them all away. Every page. Every entry. Every word.

I know what love is. I feel it every day, and hope that I show it in return every day. I’m living a story that doesn’t have torture and heartbreak. My life is full of the precious stuff, and it was past time to purge the memories that could hold me back.

Would you have done it? Purged a journal?


Janssen said...

Last summer, when I was getting ready to move down to Texas, I threw away all my old journals. They were filled with the dumbest things; things I'd absolutely never want to show to another person and things that embarassed me to even read them to myself. I'm sure I threw away a few worthwhile things in the mix, but overall I'm not sad that I did it. I'm glad to be moving forward and to have only the memories that I choose my past.

chloe elizabeth said...

I have a whole post dedicated to exactly this topic. I erased all electronic copy, I deleted the emails and I burned ( know I'm a bit crazy) the actual journals. I have not missed them once. I think it's the lesson we learn that we need to remember, not the painful play by plays along the road.

Sarah said...

I think you were perfectly right to throw them away. That's not who you are anymore so why hang onto the sad. LOVE that quote from the Pants book. Love it. This is why I don't scrapbook boys...too much work put into a layout only to throw it away later? No thanks.