Monday, July 24, 2006


I have lived in my apartment since July 1997. That is over 9 years of accumulated material memories.

My mother is here and we have been sorting through things. Toss, pack, or leave for next tenant (Nerdboy).

As I was going through some drawers where I just shoved “important” documents over the year, I came across ticket stubs from trips I had made, cassettes (which I categorically tossed), old journals and old love letters.

The last two were weird to deal with. I opened the old journals and read pages filled with angst-filled entries. Even though on the one side it is great to see how far I have come, it was depressing to see how insecure I was back then, to see how things bothered me, how I let people and events have such a hold on me.

The love letters were similar. They were all from my first boyfriend when I was in Germany. He was the only guy who ever sent me love letters, or left notes from me. It seemed like I had collected every note he ever left, and every letter he ever wrote.

The letters shocked me a bit, because of the passion that was in them. He had written them to me while we were apart, and spoke of missing me, but being happy he loved someone so much that he could miss them like that. And he mentioned trying to find me in his daily activities: reading the newspaper, writing articles, watching the news, grocery shopping. And he wrote that he thought that this separation was doing us good, because it made us stronger.

And it gave me this knot in my stomach, because shortly after returning from that separation, I broke up with him. Whereas the distance made his love stronger, it made me realize that I didn't love him that way.

His letters reminded me so much of the letters I wrote my boyfriend while he was deployed. And it made me incredibly sad, because I thought about how I would have felt had my soldier broken up with me after he returned, how absolutely gutted I would have felt.

It made me feel like calling my ex immediately to apologize, even though that is water under the bridge now, not to mention that we have already discussed things in length over the years. It is just that now, I am better able to put myself in his position. We are still good friends, and he another girlfriend now, who is perfect for him.

My ex wrote me letters like that all the time, and those are the kind of letters than I would love to get from my boyfriend, but he just doesn't express himself that way. It just went to prove that you can't have everything. Although my ex was like that, I never really appreciated it, I took it for granted, because he lacked qualities that I found in my boyfriend now.

For a while I was kind of depressed after reading all those pages. It rehashed all those memories. And I decided to throw everything away. Every last letter, note and journal. I just never wanted to read that again. I had forgotten about all that, and I didn't want to be so vividly reminded.


Blogger Sarah said...

I have a journal that I typed every day in France. It's printed out and massive and I positively hate the thing. Sometimes I get the itch to look in it, and then I get all depressed; I too was insecure and stupid. I really want to burn the thing, but I'm not quite there yet. And sometimes I worry that if something happened to me, someone else might read it -- ugh. I hate that book...but I haven't quite mastered how you throw away a year of your life.

2:06 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I've been in the exact place you are-to the point that it's sort of eerie. Not that I can tell you about your life from a blog post-we readers only get snippets, but I literally got goosebumps reading this one. :-)

I can tell you this though: I've kept some love letters and I've thrown some away-I think it depends on the situation and what you took from the relationship.

But, the reason I kept those few letters was because I knew that someday they would give me a vivid picture of where I was in my life while I was with that person-few things can express emotion more than a handwritten letter-plus they're written in your relationship "language." It brings you back to that spot in your life and serves as a reminder of the good and the bad, and allows you hindsight that I'm not sure you could get unless you read a letter that brings you back to that moment.

It sounds like those love letters served that purpose for you-they gave you a moment of clarity that you might not have otherwise acheived if you hadn't read those letters after gaining so much distance from that relationship and entered another one. They showed you who you've become, and why that relationship didn't fit but this one does. Now that they served their purpose, they can be discarded, and you can have a moment of clarity about your current relationship! I'm certain Dr. Phil would approve of all of these things. :-)

Thanks for sharing this experience, I think that many women can relate to it. :-)

5:01 PM  
Blogger Stacy Kaye said...

Wow...that's interesting. I actually love reading back through my old journals, even if it was from a rough time in my life, because it reminds me of how grateful that I am where I am now. It always helps me to gain a new perspective on my life right now. In reading your entry it also makes me thankful for the entire folder I have that is full of love letters from my husband. It is from the year that we were apart, doing the long distance thing. I love reading those letters-well, emails-and seeing our relationship change and grow deeper. I just returned from an 18 day trip to Europe and for EVERY day that I was there I have an email from him to now add to my folder. I am thankful for the cards that he put in my luggage for me to read while I was gone. I think I will make sure to give him a big kiss and thank him for his thoughtfulness when I finally get to see him on Saturday.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

I can relate to this felt so cleansing to get rid of my old journals and letters when I needed to "downsize" and move to a smaller place. It really felt as though a load had been lifted from my shoulders as I left my old life behind and walked into the future...It reminds me of this picture by Mary Engelbreit

I was thinking of you--my mom is on a trip to Turkey (to include Cyprus). Her first time out of the country since college--I'm so proud of her! I hope your trip was wonderful--do tell about your adventures if you get the chance!


1:38 AM  
Blogger bee said...

9 years is a long time to live anywhere.
I think getting rid of things can be cleansing, but journals...they're tough to toss. :)

4:19 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Yeah I would have to say I am a "don't look back" kind of person when it comes to stuff like that (ie old relationships)...although there have been times I have regretted throwing certain items. At the time, it was cathartic but later on, I wished to have that little portion of my history back.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Jon and Billie said...

This is such a good topic! My hubbie and I have been going through the same thing: do we keep things from our past relationships? We both have pictures of us with our exes and some momentos....and we've been discussing whether or not we should keep anything. I don't want to be the one saying he has to get rid of anything, especially things that happened in his life, but I'm one for kind of looking over the stuff and savoring the memories, both good and bad and just moving on. Afterall...memories will always be with us forever. Sometimes it'll just take a certain scent and it'll bring back certain things. So we keep or toss? such a tough question!

4:09 PM  
Blogger KC said...

Just wanted to say sorry for all of the sitemeter traffic you've been getting from me lately. :-P

I tried to post a comment on here and it didn't post for awhile so I kept coming back and seeing if it posted.

Anyhoo, just wanted to let you know! :-)

4:27 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I get questions about issues like that on a regular basis. If you've got first boyfriends on your mind, you might enjoy an article entitled The Ghost of the First Love. Thanks for the interesting read!

12:59 AM  

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