burn the journals

I moved a couple of months ago, and my box of journals followed me. I’ve carted this box around for several years, unsure of what to do with it. A part of me wants to burn these diaries, all at once, in some ritual release ceremony. But if I do that, I want to read them first – and this would take a while, given the sheer number of them. And the fact that it would be an emotionally exhausting process.

Why am I holding on? I’ve written about this in a previous post, and I’m still facing the dilemma. For the most part, my musings weren’t happy. I certainly don’t want anyone else reading them. And I don’t feel particularly joyful when I look at that box; if anything, it makes me anxious. I think of it whenever I hear the safety announcement on a plane. What if I died suddenly? Do I really want my innermost thoughts just floating around?

the box

I know what it is. I have this sense, this hope, that the diaries might provide a clue. A clue about what, I don’t know. Maybe they’ll contain a hidden gem that will give me some heightened self-awareness. A lightbulb moment. A traumatic memory unlocked, the key that brings missing pieces together.

Or maybe not.

In my last post, I wrote about it being the time of a full moon and an opportunity for completion. That weekend, I found myself going for a long walk, unexpectedly winding up in my childhood neighbourhood. I walked past the apartment building my family lived in at two different times; once when I was 4 and again at age 8.

I felt both light and heavy. When we lived in this small place, my family had not been in the country for very long. So many years later, I could more fully appreciate the trauma and uncertainty that my parents must’ve experienced during those early years. My heart exploded with love for my mother and father, and my childhood grief that I couldn’t make them feel better.

I love that this building is still there, but I have a feeling it will be gone soon, as the whole area is being redeveloped.

Somehow the timing of all this feels pertinent. If the full moon a couple of weeks ago was about completion, we’re now in the birthing period of the new moon and total solar eclipse. Given that it’s Mercury Retrograde too, it’s the time for inner reflection. Whatever we’re intent on releasing, whatever new thoughts we want to implant… it’s a cosmically potent opportunity to do so.

The little girl in the apartment, the teenager writing in those journals, the woman on her spiritual search…what is she ready to let go of?

The need to apologize. The need to people please, the fear of rejection, the feelings of not enough, the ancient pain in feeling so responsible for others. Letting go of those physical reminders, those powerful words in written form, frees her to experience more of the real her: the woman unbound by old self-definitions. The woman who laughs more, who truly values herself and doesn’t needlessly worry about others.

Perhaps there is no more auspicious time to set those journals aflame. Instead of fearing what I might lose – my childhood, my identity – I can imagine the space created from releasing those (mostly sad) words. My being extends far beyond the letters on a page.

As I walked past my old apartment that day, it occurred to me that I never knew the building’s name. I went up to the main door. “Le Chateau.” The Castle. Seeing that made me smile. It seemed very fitting.

26 thoughts on “burn the journals

    • I totally understand! Since I wrote this post I realize I am not quite ready to let them go. Not that I plan to hold onto them long-term…I just want to make sure I’ve given them proper honour and attention before I take any action. Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂

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      • I know exactly what you mean. I can never throw any away until I have gone through them thoroughly because as you know once once you toss something it’s gone there no getting it back. As to why it is probably so hard to let go of to begin with

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  1. Visiting the physical remnants of our past tends to invoke nostalgia. Milan Kundera said ‘The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”’
    I hope you don’t burn your journals before reading them once, if not for that lightbulb moments, for self realiztion of your journey to the here and now.

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    • How interesting, I did not know that was the origin of ‘nostalgia’…thank you for sharing! I still have my journals and I’m not in a hurry to get rid of them now. Maybe someday, but first I must read all of them. I mentioned in a previous comment that taking them out of the box, and putting them in order and keeping them somewhere safe and sacred, could make a big difference in how I feel about keeping them. Thank you again, Aleya

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  2. Hi Aleya, I can relate to this, “The need to apologize. The need to people please, the fear of rejection, the feelings of not enough, the ancient pain in feeling so responsible for others.” It’s as simple as that. This is what we work towards transcending, and I am still working on it. 😉 However we do it, we’ll do it – one little bit at time, and however long it takes, and by whatever method/s. xo Much Love, Ka

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    • Hi Ka ❤ Yes, a little at a time, however long it takes. That is the best we can do as the layers reveal themselves. I see this pattern in so many of us and I am thankful to know so many conscious and kind women and men who are taking responsibility to be more compassionate to themselves and others as we come out of these eons-old patterns to learn new ways. Much love to you sister! xo

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  3. I remember standing at that crossroad myself many years ago and I did burn my journals. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I have to say if I could do it over again, I would have kept them. But this is everyone’s individual journey. There is no right or wrong, just different experiences. And again I have learned much from doing what I did.

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    • It is an individual journey and I realize I’m not quite ready to burn them anytime soon, or not as soon as I planned to. Mother Nature probably wouldn’t allow it anyway, as there’s a fire ban in the place I was planning to do it… I’m wondering if taking them out of the box and placing them in a more sacred-feeling space will shift my relationship with them. It’s not a beautiful box; it’s been through many moves and hidden in several closets over the years. In any case, now is not the time. Thank you so much for sharing your experience here! Aleya

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  4. I have mine ready to burn too! My sister also wants to do this with me. A nice bon fire in the fall maybe. Remove the wire or plastic parts.. I have collected some poems & drawings from the journals that I would like to keep.

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    • MM! I love the idea of a fall bonfire. I was thinking of doing it on a camping trip to the Island/Tofino this weekend… but it will probably have to wait. I need more time to go through them carefully and give them my full attention before releasing them and allowing them to transform into something else. ❤ Aleya

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    • Hi, thank you for your comment. I do see your perspective and for the most part it’s been mine too – which is why I haven’t disposed of the diaries for so many years. From the entries I have re-read, I’ve largely felt sadness and heaviness, as there was so much emotional pain, circular thinking, and feeling stuck. The journals do show me who I am and where I’ve been, but they’re also starting to feel like unnecessary weight. Once I have properly read them through I will know in my heart what to do. Thank you for the reblog too! Aleya

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      • Let me make this suggestion: turn the journals visual (draw mindmaps, drawr pictures, draw whatever pops into your head as you review them; if you get through that, then take the drawings (ONLY) and use the drawing to produce new writings and see how you were able to transform the old into something new). Good luck, and I hope to see some of that work posted so I can reblog it out to a larger audience for you!

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    • Thank you Brad. I was contemplating burning the journals on a camping trip next weekend, but because of all the wildfires we’ve been having where I live, there’s currently a campfire ban… so Mother Nature may have different ideas. It does feel like it is time to let them go, and I trust the right situation will present itself. 🙂 Hugs, Aleya

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  5. Sounds all very familiar to me, I have burned a lot of old journals / diaries and letters and came to the conclusion that the quote ” Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, because it is the present” is expressing the most essential truth about our concept of “Time”.

    Here and Now the point of view regarding my past experiences is constantly changing to one that is capable to see all the great learning lessons,as a result of them ; there is constant inner growth.

    Not long time ago I stumbled upon the great idea to write diaries as my fictionally (successful, enlightened, happy,grateful… ) future self , which I found very compelling.
    I found out , that doing this in a positive way, is unlocking a lot of potential .

    What do you think about this dear Leya?

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    • That is a great idea to write diaries as a fictional future self! I’m feeling more and more that the time is right to release those former words and create some new ones. So this is a good way to do that – telling a compelling new story, one that I’d like to live. I have burned certain letters and photos in the past and although that process was hard, those relationships transformed or resurfaced in new ways. So nothing is ever lost, it just changes form if we give it the space. Thank you 🙂 Aleya

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