Thursday, August 19, 2010

Throwing Away - Breaking Free - Susannah

I'm going through old stuff while the kids are in Florida visiting their dad. It's some stuff I've been dragging around with me for years: journals, college notebooks, old letters. I'm filtering through pretty quickly - tossing a lot...I just don't feel the need to lug it around anymore, yet it feels a little painful and "a lot scary" to let go of it. I consider what this letting go means to me right now...and I notice that it depends on what I'm putting in the throw away box.

Many of the journals make me cringe from the cotton candy, overly emotional writing .... and I am gladly getting rid of them. I am not a great writer of journal entries. I know this about myself: I write much better when there's a real person on the other end who will be receiving my words. (In fact, as I write this entry, I occasionally have to pretend that I'm writing to Bob or Devon or Mari or Aaron or Ann or Tammy....) In my box of papers, I found a letter from David Rossburg...this guy I had a huge crush on when I was a camp counselor in NJ the summer of 1987... Even David wrote, "You are an awesome letter writer!" .... Still, I may keep a few of these embarrassingly dull journals - like the one I took with me to Europe in 1990 after I graduated from University of Cincinnati. Despite its cringe factor, that journal is priceless for what it represents to me - something along the lines of the bliss of breaking free.

When I toss the old college papers, I'm tossing out validation from professors who wrote nice things about me and my writing, and throwing them away is a little unnerving. It still feels really good to read those comments from 22 years ago! But with each paper I pick up, it gets easier to put it in the cardboard trash box. (My friend Tammy is my personal bonfire coordinator. In fact, she just wrote me an email which ended, "Start piling the fodder for the bonfire!")

I did find a paper I'm saving, though. It's one I wrote for Professor McEvoy's Ed Psych 300 course in 1991 when I was a grad student at WVU. It's called "Reflections on Ballet and Jung." Here's a quote: "I am still in the process of "coming to selfhood," and this process deals with bringing what is in the unconscious to the conscious level of the mind" [Dr. McEvoy added "and expressing it in some form of identity.] God! Even then I was introspective and interested in living the symbolic life, curious about the subconscious and unconscious patterns that might be playing out in my life. In the paper I consider my relationship with myself about ballet and wonder "why I had to break away from something I loved." I share that "quitting ballet was a trauma in my life, but it stirred me up enough that I began confronting not just the 'dance issues' within myself, but many other issues within my psyche which I had yet to realize existed." I could have written minute ago....replacing the words "ballet" and "dance" with words like "divorce" and "bankruptcy."

I cried when I read Dr. McEvoy's comment to me: "I find this paper remarkable - you have taken great jumps and are well on the way to fullness and individuation - there are many expressions of the self and dance still may remain one for you (but it should be this - an expression of the self), but if not you will realize others - as Campbell would advise - follow your bliss!" Of course, the comment, itself, is so kind and "unprofessorlike," but more than that, I noticed that I simultaneously felt awe and sadness for the young woman I was...awe at what I knew and felt intuitively even then, and sadness that I was the last person on Earth who thought this was "remarkable."

So...I'm 43 and at another breaking free moment in my life, and I've been feeling some very familiar feelings... feelings that result from the universe pretty much prying the death grip off some of the things I have held on to so tightly...and really they're not things as much as they are what those things represent to me -- it usually comes back to some sort of limiting belief I have about myself ... usually along the lines of "Who I am is not enough."

So this breaking free and throwing is freaky...

and it is freeing...

and it is absolutely remarkable ...

1 comment:

  1. You are clearly writing "to" in the way that suits you, because this feels real and true and familiar to me too. "Prying the death grip off" the old things that hold us...yes!

    I had a thought the other day -- wondering whether affirmations have become so popular because we are not being affirmed by one another as you were by your professor(s).

    I keep to returning to be ourselves, being real. In this piece you affirm me! All those feelings. The movement. The freakiness.

    Thank you.