On throwing away old love letters

While cleaning out my closet this morning, I found a small, taped-up plastic container that contained a bunch of handwritten letters, email print-outs and Hallmark cards.  I hadn’t thought about this box in a few years.  In fact, it had gathered a fair amount of dust while tucked away, forgotten, in the back of my closet.

When I saw it, however, a flood of beautiful, bittersweet memories immediately surfaced.  My heart sank and sang simultaneously.  I had mixed emotions about even opening it.


Inside that box were love letters written to me by several ex-boyfriends — the ones who lasted more than a few months and could readily express their feelings in beautiful, simple prose.

I held onto these letters, emails and cards not because I was clinging to each of these relationships.  No way.  All of them ended for solid reasons.  Rather, I wanted to preserve them as souvenirs of happy times in memorable relationships and a reminder that I could give and receive love — and, I could receive love in a way so powerful that it inspired these men to put into words how I made them feel.  (So yes, there was some ego in holding on to these letters.)

My love life has been in a serious dry spell for the past several years, probably ever since I tucked this tiny box away in my closet.  So re-discovering this treasure was a great reminder of my capacity to love and what having love reciprocated felt like.

I couldn’t resist reading a few letters this afternoon.

However, before I got too swept up in the past and before I could start dwelling on and questioning the past several years, I taped the small container back up and tossed it into the garbage.

Surprisingly, there was no pang of attachment with this action.  These tangible things just don’t serve me.  The significant memories and lessons of these relationships are with me, even if they stay buried in the subconscious until they prove useful to the present.

Tossing those love letters into the garbage was just another form of saying goodbye to the past, and cleaning the slate for the present and future.

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