Saturday, January 10, 2009


FAMILY PHOTO (Spouse's side) What a motley crew are we.
While recently browsing through documents I'd saved on my computer, I came across stories, poems, and journal entries I thought had been lost when the computer crashed some months ago. Perhaps I hadn't been thorough in my searches or maybe I'd forgotten about saving them. I'd given some of the entries odd names - maybe to preserve my privacy - which is why I didn't recognize them. In essence, I'd hidden them from myself. I was thrilled to find some of the poems and stories but I wasn't happy to see some of the things I'd journaled - some of which might have been best left unread. But I did read them and have felt weighed down with remorse ever since. I wasn't sorry I'd written them - just sorry I'd felt compelled to keep them for so long and sorry I'd decided to revisit old issues.
I'd been searching for stories I'd written for my grandkids and one story about the great oak tree that stood in my mother's front yard for all the years of my childhood. While searching, I decided to clear out things I'd saved that I no longer cared about keeping. "Cleaning house" on the computer is much easier than cleaning one's physical house. On the computer, it's just a matter of hitting the delete button and voila!, the offending clutter is gone.
As I read things I'd journaled, I noted they were mostly negative. I had expressed thoughts about perceived childhood injustices, issues with my mother, heartaches and disappointments I'd experienced throughout my married life, and issues with inlaws (and out-laws). I'd also recounted the many times I'd felt unappreciated and misunderstood, as well as times I felt I'd been unjustly sanctioned or accused of things I was sure I didn't do - at least not intentionally.
There were letters I'd composed to people I felt had taken advantage of me and/or greatly disappointed me in the past. None had ever been sent - thank goodness. I'd never actually intended to send them. But as I read each of those letters, I felt anger rise within me and some of the bad feelings came rushing back as I was reminded of so many things that had caused emotional pain.
I was shocked at how negative my ramblings were, but I had needed an outlet for my feelings. I could say in my journal what I couldn't say outloud since it's never been my desire to cause family members, or others, needless pain. Most of the things I'd expressed were no longer issues. Some things had simply ceased to be important to me and had long ago been "forgiven" - even if the offending parties had no idea they needed my forgiveness.
Today I'm making a clean sweep of the negative thoughts I'd expressed and saved. I first thought I'd make a big deal of printing out all those things, then ceremoniously burning them. What a fitting end to all the negativity! When I thought about that further, I decided to not waste the paper and ink it would take to do it. It was bad enough to have wasted time re-reading all those expressions of pain. I'm going to simply hit the delete button and be done with it. There will be no ceremony, no bonfire, and no fanfare. I'm promising to let those things go once and for all.
I still think journaling is a good way to express oneself even if the thoughts one expresses are negative. But saving the negative thoughts forever and ever and re-visiting them is not so good, nor is it healthy. I want a clean start for this new year. DELETE!


Shellmo said...

What a great idea to burn them. I think journaling helps us to "vent" but it's a good reminder for all of us to document all the positive things in our life too!

Kady said...

Shelley - I thought that would be very cathartic. I deleted all those negative thoughts, but I do still have some on paper that I'd handwritten which I WILL burn. It just seems a fitting way to rid myself of the negative thoughts. You're so right - we need to document positive things too. And I have done a lot of that. I write positive letters to my grandkids that I'll share with them one day. I have those printed out and ready for a notebook.