Lately I have been working on getting rid of stuff that I no longer love, use, or need. Sometimes, the process is exciting and fun. I love getting rid of clothes. I find it easy to pull uncomfortable or ill-fitting clothes off hangers and toss them in a pile for donation. I take pleasure in pushing old bills and bank statements through the shredder. My kitchen cabinets have been cleared of spare glasses, plates and serving platters that hardly ever saw the light of day.
When it comes to sentimental items, however, the drawstring on my proverbial trash bag cinches right up. I can’t get rid of the letters from my 5th grade best friend! What if I want to re-read them some day? If I get rid of something someone gave me, does it mean I didn’t appreciate it?
There’s a lyric I lived by for a long time; Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. I found it romantic to picture myself as an old woman, reading through my box of love letters and reminiscing on my youth. Yet I kept that box of friendship and love letters for nearly 20 years without reading a single one of them, or even thinking about them.
It’s true. I had a shoebox full of old letters, starting with my 5th grade pen pal and ending with my first and last long-distance boyfriend. Last week, I finally sat down to sort through the box and determine if any of these letters were worth keeping.
As it turns out, what my friends and I wrote about when I was in 5th grade, middle school, and even high school, was pretty lame to look back on. To be honest, I didn’t even read all the letters after the first few. I considered how my 5th grade pen pal and I lost touch after a few years, and how many of the people whose letters I’d kept are no longer part of my life, and I actually don’t miss them. That sounds kind of mean, but I don’t intend it to be. The truth is, people move on.
Of course I did not throw away ALL the letters. I did keep a handful – those from my very best friends, which, just by looking at the envelope, I can recall the excitement of getting a fresh letter in the mail and tearing it open to see what it said. I also kept the love letters, though it was a little weird to read them now, so many years after having parted ways with the writer.
So that’s one less box of “stuff” on the shelf. Now to get sorting through the boxes of get-well cards and birthday cards that I’ve kept since 1986. I plan to scan anything that had truly significant meaning to me and discard the rest.
At one point in life I thought it meant something to hold on to all these items, but the reality is, all this stuff just weighs you down! I just keep telling myself how much better I will feel once I’ve gotten rid of the detritus in my life!
2 thoughts on “Writing off the Past”
I have been seeing a man with EEC and it’s the first time I’ve been in a relationship with someone that has an atypical appearance. I enjoy his company and I think he’s a doll. But people in my life (friends and family) haven’t been terribly supportive. I’m sure a lot of it is well meaning, but they come across as a bit offensive. The questions are never directly terrible but I think you get what I’m trying to say. In fact, sometimes they ask downright personal questions about our relationship! Things I don’t think they would normally ask.
How do I approach these situations? How do I tell my family (politely) that it’s none of their business? I don’t feel it’s my place to have to explain to his appearance everything he meets a new member.
For some reason I didn’t see your comment until today.
This is a tough one for me to answer. Since I am the one with EEC, I don’t know what kinds of questions people ask my partner or my friends about me behind my back. I know people have been curious about my hands, or my scars.
I’d think the best thing to say to people (if they ask) is that he was born with a syndrome that affects hands, feet, skin, eyes, teeth, etc. (You don’t have to list everything, but you get the idea). Tell them that he has overcome a lot of obstacles to get where he is today, and that it has made him a stronger person, and that is one of the things you find attractive about him. Anything beyond that is really nobody’s business unless he chooses to share.
If people ask you questions that are personal or make you uncomfortable, you don’t have to answer them. Tell them they’re overstepping and that it’s not their business. In time, and as they get to know him, your family should be able to see past his differences and appreciate him for who he is.