The other day I decided once and for all I was going to stop pracrastinating over what to do with my extremely heavy box of journals. I brought them down from the attic and have been going through them in baby steps – years and years of entries.
I had been journalling since I learnt to write as an infant, a habit which continues to this day. I journal differently now, to how I did back then. Then, I wrote about the events of the day and my feelings. Now, I do that but spend much more time writing about my opinions on topics etc.
So far I’ve managed to scrap some letters that were written to me back in school, and some old print-outs detailing my life outlook through digital tarot card readings. I’ve also scrapped one of my early teenage journals which were quite boring and full of the usual angst.
Seriously, I’d written everything in it from what I bought from the shops to what I thought about on mundane shopping trips with my parents. It still took some thinking about before I finally scrapped it, but, I decided I didn’t need it.
The rest…now that’s where it gets hard.
The rest are where I really started to journal my heart out and detail what went on in my day to day life.
To put it mildly, they are sickening and horrendous reads. Full of details of bullying, abuse and harassment I suffered for years on end. Full of the terrible names I got called at school ‘freak’, ‘back end of a bus’, ‘fatty’ ,’ reject’, ‘butt ugly’, among other things.
And full of the terrible way I thought about myself as a result of the non-stop abuse, a lot of it by people who I should have been able to trust the most. People who should have protected me as a vulnerable child, but instead, chose to join in.
I’ve asked myself why I would keep such stuff. The weight of that box is so much more than the physical heaviness of those books.
They are the weight of terrible burdens that lead to years of counselling and therapy. Burdens that lead to me being such a mess that I had serious identity issues and caused people I cared about later down the line a lot of pain and upheaval.
I guess what makes it so hard to let go, is that they are the proof of what was happening to me at a time when nobody believed me (even though, ironically, I didn’t want my journals to be discovered, and still don’t want them to be read).
They also have great memories in of going to visit my nan and my Uncle Gordy, going to Great Yarmouth with my parents and hanging out at the arcades, and other mundane things which made me smile.
But…here’s my logic: thinking from a zen buddism perspective, those days have been and gone. They are the past me. Even if they got destroyed, those things still happened, but I don’t need to hold on to those parts any more.
I am the me that’s right here, right now.
Looking back on those horrific journals is like looking back at a totally different girl. But I’m only who I am now because of what I went through at various times in my life.
Originally, I was planning to scan them and make them digital, then destroy the books. After all, I don’t think I want the energy of those books to be hanging around any longer, nor do I want anybody else to be burdened by them or their content should anything happen to me.
But reading through them has been much harder than I imagined, and I’m wondering what their purpose even is here in the present.
Minimalism is all about keeping what brings you happiness and is useful to you in your life at the moment.
These journals are nothing but pain incarnate, but a voice in the back of my head says, ‘But what if you write a book one day?’ ‘But what if you regret getting rid of a memory you had written down?’ ‘What if you want to look back at how far you’ve come?’
Well, the reality is, I don’t need to look back because I’m going ever forwards. When I look back it’s only for a glimpse, then I turn around and keep going, learning and growing, helping others.
The memories that are important to me will remain my my heart and that’s a fact.
A natural disaster could destroy those journals, and age could render them illegible. But the ones etched into my heart? Nobody can take those.